Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Rian Gayle had ambitions that inspired him to leave home and pursue his studies in the United States. During his undergraduate studies at Gallaudet University, Rian received the World Deaf Leadership (WDL) Scholarship, sponsored by the Nippon Foundation of Japan. The scholarship program encourages students to get involved in international development and, eventually, return to their home countries to establish lasting programs- this is just what Rian Gayle is doing today! Rian continued his studies at Gallaudet by getting a Master of Arts in International Development. Upon graduating in May of 2010, he returned to his homeland to help make the changes he wanted to see in Jamaica.
Today, Rian is working at the Jamaica Association for the Deaf as a Research Officer. As a Research Officer, he facilitates the production of public education resources targeting a Deaf audience, facilitates the identification, collation and development of educational resources to support the implementation of Deaf Studies in schools for the Deaf, and helps with a variety of advocacy campaigns and projects. He is also actively involved in several community activities and projects in Jamaica. For example, Rian worked on the Deaf Drivers for Equality campaign which lobbied for drivers licenses for Deaf Jamaicans and is participating on a campaign team that is lobbying for a closed captioned policy for all Jamaican television stations. He played an instrumental role in the establishing of the new Deaf Sports Jamaica organization, which aims to use sporting activities to develop the Deaf community. He is also the CEO/Founder of Miss Deaf Jamaica, which is an entity that aims to use beauty pageants to attract young Deaf women to a one-month course to educate them about job-hunting, self-development, and to encourage them to be advocates, spokespersons and ambassadors for the Deaf community.
Rian reflects on his education as a Gallaudet graduate student and states, “It prepared me enormously in terms of experiences, educational background, networking, and the advocacy skills needed. I was also able to develop the confidence I needed to be successful in my field.” His advice to future graduate students of the International Development program is to, “Choose wisely and follow your heart. There are many changes going on now that can impact a person’s career and life.”