Mike Spencer - Columbus State Community College 50th Anniversary

Royce Carpenter was admittedly nervous. In her late 20s, she was returning to Columbus State not only as an adult student, but one with a husband and three children at home.

Those pre-game jitters are long gone now. Carpenter makes her living as a sign language interpreter, after earning her associate degree in Interpreting and Transliteration from Columbus State in 2000.

"Columbus State showed me that it is never too late to find your passion," Carpenter says. "The program prepared me for the demands that an interpreter faces in the field. I've been interpreting professionally for 12 years, and the work has taken me to places I never expected. I've interpreted all across the U.S., in foreign countries, on cruise ships, and at shelters. My day could start at a business meeting and end as a mother delivers her baby. People of all ages and backgrounds share a common desire and need for accessible communication."

"My day could start at a business meeting and end as a mother delivers her baby. People of all ages and backgrounds share a common desire and need for accessible communication."

Along with running her own interpreting business, Carpenter is an adjunct instructor and sign language interpreter at Columbus State.

"This profession has also allowed me to teach what I love," Carpenter says. "Facilitating communication between human beings is an incredible way to spend each day. Interpreting is not only personally rewarding, but it also provides skilled practitioners with secure employment."

Carpenter teaches alongside her former instructor, Tina Perry, whom she refers to as "a tough cookie."

"One day we arrived in class, and there were four deaf individuals signing so fast I thought my head would spin," recalls Carpenter. "Tina just as quickly introduced us to her mother, father, and two aunts. She said she expected every one of us to work hard and do our best because all hearing impaired and deaf individuals—just like her family members—deserve interpreters who are passionate about what they do and the people they serve."

Carpenter's interest in interpreting also hit close to home. She has a dear friend whose son is deaf, and she wanted to be able to communicate and interact with him.

"Tina's family's visit taught me that all deaf people, not just the young boy I knew and loved, deserve capable and dedicated interpreters," Carpenter says. "And I vowed to become an interpreter that deaf and hearing consumers could trust to communicate their thoughts and sentiments."

Images: A Year in the Life of Columbus State