After earning her BA in Linguistics and finishing an Interpreter Training Program at Seattle Central Community College, Claire Ramsey decided to attend Gallaudet University to get her MA in Linguistics. Claire’s study of sociolinguistics at Gallaudet opened intellectual doors that she thought had been officially closed, and like many graduate students, she found a different focus, once she began her studies at Gallaudet.   Claire’s strong background in linguistics and sociolinguistics helped her to focus her interests, and she went on to pursue her PhD in Language and Literacy in Education at UC Berkeley in Fall 1986.

Claire is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Education Studies at the University of California, San Diego. From 1996 to 2003, Claire was an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, where she directed a Masters’ program in Deaf Education. Prior to that, Claire was a Research Scientist at UC San Diego. Claire’s research has centered on classroom discourse in Deaf education, and on the cultural practices and beliefs about languages that inform groups of sign language users. From 1999 to 2011, she conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Mexico City among a group of elderly Deaf people, most of whom have been friends since they were children. In 1997, Gallaudet University Press published her first book, Deaf Children in Public Schools: Placement, Context, and Consequences (Outstanding Academic Book of 1998 in Education).  Claire’s second book, also from GUP, will appear in November 2011, called The People who Spell: The Last Students from the Mexican National School for the Deaf.

Claire was named the Gallaudet School of Communication “Graduate Most Likely to Make an Important Contribution to the Study of Communication” in May 1984.   And for her dissertation work, she received an Outstanding Dissertation award from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, Honors for Outstanding Scholarship from Division G of the International Reading Association, and the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association.

Her advice to her own graduate students is to try to enjoy the experience of learning new information and new ways to think, to practice writing in all genres but work hard on academic writing, and to be open to surprises, opportunities, and detours.