Deaf student Allison Kent, 20, is using her time at CSUN to recreate her life and to shed light on communities that are not entirely being represented on campus.
Kent, a sociology major, is currently a University Student Union (USU) Board Director, a Resident Advisor (RA) in the dorms and part of an organization within CSUN housing that serves the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allies (LGBTQA) community.
For Kent, having a voice does not mean being able to produce sound. It means being able to inform people about issues that are often ignored.
She wasn’t always such a lively advocate. In high school she described herself as “just getting by” and admits that she passed on many opportunities. Now, she is glad to be part of several teams that are working for a good cause.
“I really want to create my life. I don’t just want it to happen for me,” Kent said.
As a deaf student, Kent is constantly struggling to access information. She wants people to recognize that the struggle of a deaf student is an ongoing issue.
She believes that being a USU Board Director means she can represent the deaf community and make sure their needs are understood.
Kent is also a second-year RA. She saw that the LGBTQA community needed a safe space for its students where they can be heard and accepted and she became involved with Fostering Love and Inclusive Residential Education (FLAIRE), a group working on having a floor dedicated to LGBTQA students.
“I along with many peers, have wanted to see this happen for a long time,” Kent said. “Many other colleges already have a ‘gay dorm’ or a ‘rainbow dorm.’ I decided it was time for CSUN to do so as well, so I got an amazing board together and we are going to give housing a little bit of flair.”
The project is expected to take place next fall.
Allison credits her engaging personality and her will to help others to her mother, who taught her that being deaf was not an excuse not to be successful in life. Allison said it is more of a challenge, but never an excuse.
“I was blessed in that I was never coddled or given the option of being disabled,” Kent said.
Kent lost her hearing as a two-year-old when she suffered from bacterial meningitis, a serious infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. She had already learned how to talk, but she says that today, she would not be able to hear a bomb go off.
Now, she relies on American Sign Language interpreters to help her communicate the ideas she has to improve the lifestyles of many CSUN students.