Interpreter Leaves GCC After 7 Years

OFELYA MARTIROSYAN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

“I am going to get very depressed in September because I know that school will be starting and I won’t be here,” said Donna Scarfe, the interpreter coordinator of Center for Students With Disabilities.

Scarfe is leaving GCC and moving to Iowa to follow her husband, the Rev. Alan Scarfe, ordained as the ninth bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa.

When Scarfe learned that she was going to move, she felt both “sad and glad.” She said, “I was very happy for my husband’s new opportunities but very sad at leaving friends and colleagues behind.”

Her colleagues and students shared the same emotions. Valerie Rhaney, a counselor at the Center for Students with Disabilities, said, “I’m very sad that she’s leaving, but I think that anywhere she goes she’ll be an asset to the people there.”

Lorna Rodriguez, 28, a computer technology major, who is hard of hearing said, “She’s a wonderful person. She encourages us students to succeed in college.

We will miss her a lot. We wish her the best of luck in Iowa.”

Since Scarfe began working at GCC as a sign language interpreter in 1996, the center has grown from three students to 20 this semester and from three interpreters to 12.

She became the coordinator in 2000 while still interpreting occasionally. “I’m the ultimate interpreter,” said Scarfe. “If an interpreter is absent or late or no one else is available, I get to the class myself.”

Elizabeth Barrett, English instructor and counselor for disabled students, said, “Donna really started this program from the ground and built it to what it is now, and we hope that we can continue to grow.”

“She has done a lot for the program. She has made deaf students visible on campus. Those will be big shoes to fill in.” Barrett will replace Scarfe as the new coordinator. She teaches English grammar through sign language. She will continue to teach while working as a coordinator.

At age 7, Scarfe took part in the movie “Miracle Worker” and after learning about Helen Keller, she became interested in sign language.

At a later age, while studying theater, she saw a theatrical performance in sign language by Gallaudet University students and became determined to learn sign language.

She has a master’s degree in theater and a minor in deaf studies from Cal State Northridge.

In her career as an interpreter, she has done educational as well as religious and theatrical interpreting.

She has worked as an interpreter at CSUN, Citrus College and Little Theatre for the Deaf before arriving at GCC.

Besides her work at the college, Scarfe creates Renaissance hats and works as an interpreter at the Renaissance Fair in San Bernardino.
She is also the adviser of GCC’s Deaf Culture Club, which has been in existence for two years.

In additon to the California weather, Scarfe said she is going to miss the different things that go on around campus.

She said, “I am going to miss the intellectual stimulation on a college campus, the different cultural events, and the different classes that we interpret in.”

She said that she learned how to use Photoshop just by interpreting in that class a few times.

As an interpreter, “You get exposed to sociology and political science, and things that perhaps you, as an individual, never would have taken in college,” said Scarfe. She hopes to find an interpreting job in Iowa.
Araceli Hamoy, Disabled Student Services assistant, said, “She is very energetic, and the energy that she brings to this department is going to be missed the most.”

Hearing-impaired student David Chi, 23, computer graphics major, said, “Donna’s a really wonderful interpreter.

I don’t want her to go because she has a lot of experience. She knows us very well. We know that she is sad about leaving, but we hope that she has a wonderful life in Iowa.”