Grandparents inspire ASL teacher

Rebekah Harrell
Feature Editor 

Melissa Cochran has been teaching ASL for 20 years. She moved to Oregon in summer of 2017 from Armillio,Texas with her husband, Joel, and her two daughters Kenzie and Bree. 

“My brother-in-law and his wife moved up here 10 years ago. We have been coming up here during the summers and fell in love, so we decided to move,” Cochran said. 

Cochran started being interested in ASL in high school. Her grandfather lost most of his hearing due to Pearl Harbor and her grandmother had Parkinson’s so she couldn’t speak loud enough for him to hear her, but Cochran tried her best to learn to communicate and help them. 

“I would go with them to different places to help him understand what was going on plus make phone calls for them because he couldn’t hear and she couldn’t hold the telephone. When I graduated from high school the local community college started an interpreting translation program. I thought I could help other people that had difficulty communicating,” Cochran said.

Cochan has a master’s degree in Deaf Education that she received from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. 

The past year has been difficult for her to teach ASL through distance learning. Most students don’t have their camera on so it is hard for her to teach and correct them on their signing.

“There have been all sorts of struggles for me, but not being able to see my students is the big one,” Cochran said.

ASL teacher Melissa Cochran was able to meet deaf actor and singer Sean Berdy in Austin, Texas

One of her favorite memories is driving all day to meet a famous deaf person named Sean Berdy. He is a famous deaf actor and singer. He was performing at a college in Austin, Texas. Cochran and a few friends drove nine hours to meet him.

“I drove down to Austin, Texas with a group of friends to see Sean Berdy. Austin Community College was having him do a performance there so we decided to do the 9 hour drive to see him. I felt like such a fan,” Cochran said.

Cochran makes ASL a fun and exciting class where you learn not only how to sign, but learn about deaf culture and learn fun and new ways to communicate with the deaf community.

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