Commencement Student Speakers

Undergraduate Speaker

Dunlap leaning against a red brick wall
Photo courtesy of Brittni Mari McIvor

Roberta E. Dunlap was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She graduated from Skyline High School in Holladay in 2009. While attending Salt Lake Community College, she worked at two part-time jobs, served as a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and volunteered at the Good Samaritan Program in Salt Lake City.

Roberta transferred to Gallaudet in 2011. She is graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and a double minor in Psychology and Family and Child Studies. During her three years at Gallaudet University, she has been a member of the Psi Chi International Honor Society of Psychology; secretary of the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Studies Honor Society; former President, Vice President of Programming, and Philanthropy Chairperson of Delta Zeta Sorority; Vice President of Greek Council; and a member of the university's cross country team.

Roberta received recognition for her academic and leadership abilities, including John L. and Eleanor L McKinley award from Delta Zeta Sorority, the Hamilton Relay Award, and the Rotary International Foundation Award. She has worked at the Gallaudet University Library for three years, and has been an intern with Gallaudet University Press for the past year. Most recently, she received the Kappa Sigma Fraternity "Sweetheart of the Year" award, and attended the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

Graduate Speaker

Pepin with rainforest behind her
Photo courtesy of Kara Renee Pepin

Kara-Reneé C. Pepin was born in El Paso, Texas and grew up in a close-knit family in a suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, where she attended elementary school and graduated from Martin High School. While in high school, she took three years of American Sign Language to fulfill her foreign language requirement. Her multicultural experiences between her hometowns of El Paso and Arlington became the core of her educational and personal pursuits. She attended Tarrant County College, received her Associate of Applied Science degree in sign language interpreting in 2008, and worked as an on-call interpreter. After a chance visit to Kendall Green in 2009, she realized that Gallaudet was where she needed to be to acquire her bachelor's degree in Interpretation.

While pursuing her B.A. degree, Kara-Reneé was a member of and Student Congress Senator for the Latin@ Student Union. In the summer of 2011 she was an intern for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. In the spring of 2012, she applied to a student exchange program (FIPSE) that took her to Florianópolis, Brazil. Her time as an undergraduate at Gallaudet, her internship, and her study abroad strengthened her interest in cultural differences and signed languages, and inspired her to apply for a master's degree in Deaf Studies, in the Language and Human Rights program.

Kara-Reneé is currently studying in Ål, Norway, and completing her master's thesis on the linguistic rights of trilingual Deaf students in the United States.

The Student Commencement Speakers Committee was chaired by Mr. Don Miller of the Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. Other committee members were Mr. James Wilson IV, representing the undergraduate student body; Dr. Beth Benedict of the Department of Art, Communication, and Theatre; Dr. Khadijat Rashid of the Department of Business, representing the undergraduate faculty; and Dr. Raschelle Theoharis of the Department of Education, representing the graduate faculty.

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