Oct 142009

RIT/NTID Grad Student on CNN

RIT University News – October 2, 2009

The CNN segment featuring RIT/NTID grad student Justin Drezner can be seen here.

Anchor: Out of work, out of savings, out of options. That’s why we bring you the 30 Second Pitch, and today you are going to meet Justin Drezner. He reached out to us last week with a story that were hearing from so many of you. I’m educated, I’ve gone on hundreds of job interviews, and I’ll go anywhere for work. But Justin has a very special skill that caught my attention. He is deaf and is fluent in sign language. Now I grew up in a family of teachers for the deaf, so I know that deaf people can thrive at any job. But Justin says being deaf and being out of work means you pretty much get the short end of the stick. Justin Drezner joins me now live from Rochester, N.Y., along with his interpreter. Justin, why do you feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick?

Justin: Well, I think that being deaf, people assume that I’m not educated and that it’s too much of a challenge to work with me. The perception is we can’t do anything.

Anchor: Tell me why that is. Why is there that perception, and why do you think there is that ignorance? I mean I grew up with it. I have my own opinions, but you’re right there in the middle of it and you’re dealing with it right now.

Justin: I think it’s more a matter of people being uneducated, unaware. You know, it’s almost like we’re an invisible community. People don’t know about us. You see people of different races. You don’t really see a deaf person. A deaf person doesn’t look deaf, so people don’t even think about it – we’re, I don’t know, pushed aside.

Anchor: You know, I was looking at this picture of you and your family at a Yankees game. I know you’re family has been very supportive of you. What did they tell you as you were growing up, going to school, getting ready for the workforce? Did they say to you, “You know, Justin, it might be tough because you’re deaf and you’re going to have to work it a little differently.”

Justin: Well, I know how to work hard. They told me that I would have to work twice as hard because nothing comes easy. Life is full of challenges, so you have to overcome that. Right now, I’m looking for a job and that’s my newest challenge. I’ll overcome that too, but it not just about me. It’s about all deaf people, deaf people who have degrees, just because they can’t hear or the employers aren’t aware of their abilities. That’s the issue.

Anchor: So tell me why you decided to go to grad school.

Justin: Well, the biggest reason was to help me find a good job. You know, all things being equal between a hearing candidate and a deaf candidate, they’ll probably go with the hearing person. So I need to make sure that I’m extra prepared. You know, I have to put the playing field in my favor.

Anchor: All right, Justin Drezner, are you ready for your 30 Second Pitch? And if so, were going to start the clock and you can just go for it.

Justin: I’m more than ready. Hi, my name is Justin. I’m a graduate student at RIT studying service management. I have experience working in hotels for two years, and I’m looking for a company that prides itself in service, putting their customer first – somebody who’s willing to hire a deaf person. I’m very much a team player and I believe that a team environment is critical to success. It’s not just about me. It’s about the company and all the team players in it. So don’t be afraid to take a chance on me.

Anchor: Perfect timing. Look at that, two seconds to spare. Justin Drezner, I’m so excited that you reached out to us. It really meant a lot to me and our team. You just sparkle, I’ve got to tell you. So please keep us updated on job opportunities, and thanks also to Jim Orr, your interpreter. You did a fabulous job, Jim.

Justin: Thank you for having me.

Anchor: Absolute pleasure. And once again Justin’s e-mail is Justin.Drezner@gmail.com. We also have that posted on our blog, that’s at CNN.com/kyra. And if you want to be part of the pitch, get in touch with us, just like Justin did, there or on Twitter at KyraCNN.

– Thanks to CNN and RIT/NTID