Tom Hoxsie with the Grand Traverse Industries L’ISN Program had the pleasure of working with Samantha Trout through the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District. At that time Sam was learning American Sign Language on her own to improve her knowledge of words to communicate better. Tom introduced Sam to Wendy Williams of the L’ISN Program. During this partnership, Sam became curious about schools for the Deaf and Wendy shared what she knew of Michigan’s School for the Deaf.
Sam was interested in learning about the Michigan School for the Deaf and requested a school tour so she could experience the learning environment. Sam flourished during the tour. When she saw the conversations occurring and experienced the welcoming nature of the students, her eyes welled up and she said, "I have access to everything. No one is telling me to wait, I'll just tell you later."
Sam invited Tom and Wendy to a student-led Individualized Education Program. We gathered with several local agencies, including the Disability Network of Northern Michigan. Sam stated that “I want to know more; I want to know the words that you already know so that I can understand.” This understanding would be possible with American Sign Language. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. We all appreciated Sam’s passion and drive to continue learning and growing. Sam was on her way to the Michigan School for the Deaf.
Sam's school experience was wonderful, but like with any student, it had trials. She struggled at first and wanted to quit— she nearly did. However, she stuck with it. Two and a half years later, we participated in Sam's graduation ceremony in which she would receive her diploma. Sam received numerous scholarships, awards and was recognized by many who were in awe of her determination and grit. When Sam received her awards, she presented to the audience entirely in American Sign Language. Sam furthered her studies at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute where she graduated this past summer.
Disability Network Northern Michigan warmly congratulates Sam on graduating from the Michigan Career and Technical Institute and on winning the Michigan Rehabilitation Services Student Champion Award. We look forward to Sam’s future as she continues to break down barriers and promote personal empowerment!