Michelle King, 2009, General Studies, is a third generation TWU graduate, so it seems very appropriate that she is on stage at significant university events. Michelle interprets in sign language for those in the audience who may not hear. Among other events, she has been the interpreter for numerous Commencement ceremonies, for the visit of Dr. Maya Angelou in 2013 and for the November 2014 Inauguration of TWU’s new Chancellor and President, Dr. Carine Feyten.
When it came time to enroll in college Michelle never thought of any other university. This decision is not surprising considering her historical family ties: Mom, Betty Sue Grandey, Class of 1971, from Texas Woman’s University; maternal grandmother, Rudine Owens McAlister from Texas State College for Women; and paternal grandmother, Esther Ubben Grandey from College of Industrial Arts. Michelle thought she might study education, as they had, or perhaps business. “But like so many other 18 year olds, I was not focused on school at that time in my life.” Instead, she joined the workforce.
While the decision to learn sign language interpreting is usually an emotional one for most people because of a person that they know, the decision for Michelle was more practical. “I worked at Voertman’s Bookstore as the office manager and we had a number of deaf clients. My boss thought it would be good for public relations if we could advertise someone fluent in sign language. Little did I know you do not become fluent in a semester…”
At age 21 she enrolled at Collin College and after taking her first sign class, she realized that this would be her college goal. With the encouragement and mentoring of one of her teachers, Henry Whalen, she realized that she had the skill to do interpreting and finished the program with high marks. With confidence and a new-found love of learning, Michelle eventually did enroll at TWU to pursue a bachelor’s degree while continuing to be employed and raise a family. Although she was a non-traditional student and took most of her classes online, she did come to campus from time to time and found it just as beautiful as she remembered from childhood visits.
“I had fabulous professors,” shared Michelle. “I can look back on my classes and say I never had a teacher that didn’t take the time to know my name or make time for me or was not passionate about teaching. Dr. Stephen Souris (professor of English) comes to mind particularly, as it was through his classes I truly learned how much I enjoy reading and analyzing a piece of literature from every angle. I thank him profusely for that.”
About her graduation day, Michelle remembers how exciting and hectic it was. “I was so excited and going a million miles an hour in many different directions. Would I be able to obtain enough tickets for my loved ones? Would I trip crossing the stage? In hindsight, I wish I had decorated my cap, worn fabulously fun shoes, paused a little longer for that picture my mom was taking, and signed ‘I love you’ up to the audience towards my husband, parents, kids and friends.
That family that is so special to her consists of husband Dan, an A&M grad, and three children, Haley 17, Alyssa (called Lulu) who is almost 8, and Derek, age 6. They live in Aubrey, TX. Michelle treasures all the sporting and extra curricular activities in which the children are involved as well as the annual family trip to College Station for an Aggie football game and the occasional trip to Disney World or the trips to great granddad’s place on the Gulf to fish.
Providing sign language interpreting services for universities and agencies on a free-lance basis has provided Michelle with experiences she would not have had otherwise. ” I’ve been exposed to a wealth of information, information I would not have chosen myself. I am a lifelong student and even though you only retain a small percentage of what you interpret, I do feel my brain was exposed to it and I’ve grown from that experience.”
But this is not her primary employment. Each day Michelle goes to work at Lone Star Ag Credit in Denton as a Sr. Loan Administrator. She highly values the team of people with whom she works and likes making the dream of being a part of the agriculture industry come true for her clients.
TWU wishes Michelle all the best and looks forward to seeing her interpreting the next big university event!