Home to the only four-year Interpreter Training Program (ITP) in the state, Troy University has also recently hosted its 6th annual Alabama Interpreter Metamorphosis (AIM) Conference.
AIM is unique in that, with the help of faculty members serving as mentors, it is completely organized and run by the students within the ITP.
Wesley Sunday, a junior interpreter training major from Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, helped to lead this year’s conference.
“It’s the only student-run conference of its kind in Alabama,” Sunday said of AIM.
The conference began Friday, March 20, concluding on Sunday, March 22.
Scheduled were eight speakers holding workshops on topics from “ASL in Healthcare Settings” to “Law Enforcement Interpreting Basics: an Overview of Skill Sets Needed,” according to the AIM schedule.
Sunday said that the notable speakers included Adam Bartley, who traveled from D.C. to speak about law enforcement interpreting, as well as Fallon Brizendine, a deaf interpreter who runs her own interpreting service.
“I was in charge of contacting them and asking them about the workshops that they would like to run,” Sunday said. “And I’ve pretty much been keeping up with my committee members and the presenters.”
The committees of students finalized every detail of the conference, from reserving rooms to getting hospitality items such as food. Students were also involved in interpreting the speakers.
“For me, I got to contact some really awesome people — future employers, hopefully — and it was a really unique experience,” Sunday said of the benefits of AIM.
“The conference is designed for the interpreting students actually in the ITP and training to be interpreters,” he said of how it benefited other students involved. “Most of them get the chance to interpret the deaf speakers and practice their voice to sign skills and sign to voice.
“And the ASL students —they get to see the interpreting profession, people that work in it and what our work consists of. And there’s also workshops designed to improve their ASL skills as well.”
Sunday said that he transferred from a state college where he was taking ASL classes after recruiters from Troy contacted him about getting his interpreter’s license.
“I don’t have a specific environment I would like to work in,” Sunday said. “Maybe education or video retail service. I also plan on going to a grad program to hopefully gain a further degree in interpreting and interpreting study.”
“Our vision in the program is to try to provide students with as many experiences as possible, and part of that is the ability to network and organize a conference of this caliber so they can take those skills with them once they graduate from our program,” Judy Robertson, a interpreter training lecturer and one of the mentors over the conference, said.
“The conference is not only designed to have the students run it; it’s also designed to give a safe space to our student interpreters,” Robertson said. “Our senior-level students are providing the interpreting during the conference. It’s an opportunity for the students to see what they can do while getting feedback from mentors.”
“My favorite speaker was Sherrette Estes,” said Sarah Thompson, a senior interpreting training program major from Opp. “She presented on business ethics and life after the ITP.”
Thompson, who hopes to work as an interpreter in a school setting after graduating, said that her favorite part of the weekend was the entertainment Friday and Saturday night with ASL Idol and a comedic routine by Wink, a deaf performer.
“I learned a couple of things,” she said. “The first is that I can’t separate professionalism and skill; both go hand in hand. The second is it’s important to know who I am and what I can contribute before interpreting.
“I felt that this experience really allowed me to test my abilities and opened my eyes to new opportunities.”