Neuroscience/American Sign Language

Janki Shah

“I love it at SMC! The faculty and everything. The classes are so small, and every professor gets to know you and help you along.”

“Just now I’m taking an American Sign Language (ASL) class with Professor Rita Tamer, who is a great teacher,” says Janki Shah, who emigrated with her parents from her native India in 2008. “I’m a pre-med student, and I needed to learn a foreign language, so instead of learning Spanish or French, I decided to learn ASL. I have a close friend who is deaf, and I always wanted to talk with her. Learning any language is hard,” Janki continues, “and ASL grammar is way harder than English. But because Dr. Tamer makes it so much fun and teaches so well, I’m getting an A in that class.”

Janki foresees a time in her future when ASL may indeed come in very handy. “I’m in my first year of studying neuroscience, and hopefully, I’ll be transferring to UCLA. In neuroscience, you encounter a lot of people whose speech or hearing—or both—are impaired. And I think that knowing ASL will help me communicate with them, so they won’t feel so isolated. I’m studying in my field,” she continues “because it’s not something that many women get to do in India. Only men are supposed to be able to do certain things. But in America, you can study whatever you want. And my parents are very proud that I’ve decided to become a doctor.”

With her US citizenship imminent, Janki plans on making yet another untypical move in her future. “I’m thinking very seriously about joining the military when I graduate,” she says. “This country has already given me so many opportunities, and I would love to be able to serve the needs of the American people.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.