When Kristian Kovacs first started studying sign language, she had no way of knowing just how far it would take her. Kovacs has expanded her love of sign language into a love of service, and she is now using her passion for both to make significant contributions to the Springfield community.
Kovacs first studied sign language while a student at Westerville North High School. She did volunteer work at a deaf residential center in nearby Columbus, an experience that jumpstarted what has become a passion for service and sign language.
"It really instilled in me a desire to get connected and start serving at Wittenberg, and when the opportunity to merge sign language and my service experience presented itself I was thrilled," Kovacs said.
Kovacs' primary work with sign language as a college student has been with Families And Schools Together, a program that increases family cohesion through organized activities. She became involved with a family in which the parents were deaf and the daughter was hearing.
"I sat and ate dinner with the family and worked to ensure that the daughter was actively communicating with her parents," Kovacs said. "I felt more like an extension of the family than an interpreter."
Kovacs has also worked on many other service programs during her four years, including Forging Responsible Youth, an afterschool program, and GearUp, a tutoring program for middle school students. In addition, she participated in a spring break service trip to New Orleans in 2007, and she is a Young Life leader, through which she mentors high school girls.
Kovacs has given a lot back during her time at Wittenberg, but she says that she has received just as much. Some of her favorite Wittenberg memories are of service projects, particularly through her work with the family of a hearing child and deaf parents.
"The deaf father from the family I was working with offered to help me fix my car," Kovacs said. "It was one of those ‘a-ha' moments when everything comes full circle.
"I realized how my service wasn't just about me giving and getting to feel good about myself, but it reinforced the idea that I give of myself because I am able."
Her decision to attend Wittenberg may have initially been based on the beauty of the campus, but her reasons to stay went much deeper. Her involvement in community service, Young Life and the Delta Gamma sorority have all factored into the positive collegiate experience.
As a communications major and theatre and dance minor, Kovacs' plan for the future is to get involved with marketing and event planning and eventually become involved in nonprofit organizations. She looks forward to putting all of her experience and ambition to work after graduating in May.
"For me Wittenberg wasn't just these academic buildings or residence halls, but it was a community that reached far beyond Limestone Street or Wittenberg Avenue," she said. "I was a part of Springfield and that's what made my experience here so rewarding."
- Written by Ronni Appenbrink '09
- Photo by Erin Pence