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From an early age, Grace Sternin, the Dean’s Award winner for the College of Education, knew that college was on her educational path. And while she knew the value of a college education, she didn’t have a passion for any particular field of study.

That all changed when Grace found her passion—Deaf studies—while attending Sacramento City College. “I was fascinated with the language,” she says. “I saw sign language, it was beautiful, and I was captured by it.” She transferred to Sacramento State and began her Deaf studies in earnest.

“Learning about the people and culture was wonderful,” Grace says. “The professors here really drew me into the world of Deaf studies and Deaf culture.”

In their nomination letter for the Dean’s Award, Deaf Studies faculty say, “Grace’s study has been in-depth, her research sound, and her rhetoric astute…Through her writing, conversations and classroom performance, Grace has consistently demonstrated her solid understanding of and insight into complex cultural, historical and linguistic issues regarding minority subcultures in America and elsewhere.”

While attending Sacramento State, Grace was an active participant in the ASL club, a teaching assistant, an ASL tutor and a community volunteer, all while succeeding academically.

Grace’s work was recognized in 2010 in Writing the University, a journal of undergraduate writing published by Sacramento State’s Faculty Senate Subcommittee for Reading and Writing. Her research paper, “A Silent Genocide,” was an analysis of the involvement of Deaf people in the Holocaust and their life experiences. The paper can be found at

After graduation, Grace will begin her work in the American River College Interpreting Preparation Program, a two-year certification program. She’s not certain about a specific job after she completes that program, but she says the program will lead her on “the path of interpreting, so I’m sure that I will see opportunities down the road.”