Summer Academy: Celebrating Seven Years of Success (AccessComputing News - January 2014)

Rob Roth, AccessComputing Staff

The 2013 Community Premiere was a fitting end to the seventh and final year of the Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computing, where students from all over the United States came to Seattle to find out if a career in computing was the ticket to a great future.

As in past years, students from the 2013 Summer Academy met deaf and hard of hearing role models who are working in computing fields; visited computing companies in Seattle, such as Adobe, Google, Isilon, Microsoft, Tableau, and Valve; took a class in Animation; and participated in for-credit classes in programming. As part of the Community Premiere, three animation shorts that student teams made over an eight week period had their first public showing. Check out this and previous years’ animation shorts at

At the Premiere, the 2013 students also honored the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Johnson Scholarship Foundation for their support. And finally, in a surprise presentation orchestrated by Anna Cavender (who worked with the Summer Academy in its early years while she was a PhD candidate) and Katie Sullivan (AccessComputing member; see her bio in the January 2012 AccessComputing newsletter) presented an eighteen-page thank-you card signed by fifty-four Summer Academy alumni to Richard Ladner and Rob Roth, Director and Coordinator of the Summer Academy respectively. Here’s what the Alumni had to say:

“Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given me throughout the years, in Seattle, at RIT, and everywhere since then. I appreciate everything you’ve done with the Summer Academy program and am proud to have been a part of it.” - 2007 Alum Matt Starn, Microsoft

“The Summer Academy 2008 was one of the biggest roles in my life that has helped me to shape my career into the computer scientist that I am today. Thank you so much for the amazing opportunity to learn, strive, and succeed!” - 2008 Alum Daniel Steed Rochester Institute of Technology

“Without this opportunity, I wouldn’t have known which major to choose or where I want to work at in the future. I now know much more about the possibilities for success both in and after college. I appreciate what Summer Academy has done for the students including myself and for guiding students to have a clear view of their future career. Thanks!” - 2012 Alum Mahaed Mohamud, University of Washington

“I had never imagined that I could be able to share an experience with so many other deaf students, let alone learn advanced computer science and make an animated short story at the same time. The 2011 Summer Academy is one I’ll never forget!” - 2011 Alum Yongyi Chen, MIT

“Thank you for allowing me to grow academically as well as learning to adjust to college life. Without this opportunity I know I would not have ever considered computer science as something I could do and would probably also struggle in college. Thanks for the reality check.” - 2012 Alum Derek Lee, Stanford

“I am very grateful… for getting a chance to be a part of the Summer Academy. It helped foster my interest in computer science, and3I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if not for the amazing experience you guys made possible. Thank you again!” - 2011 Alum Matthew Seita, Rochester Institute of Technology

“There’s no way I could have had such a strong understanding of the computer science world if it had not been for this program. I had an absolute blast being able to enjoy Seattle with a wonderful group, and I really appreciated the networking you’ve made happen. This was my first dive into deaf culture as well, and I’ve learned so much about the culture I’ve missed out on. Thanks to this program, I now have new friends across the nation.” - 2013 Alum Samir Jain, Georgia Tech

“Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to explore the field of computing in a way that very few get to experience. I learned a great deal about programming and animation, as well as getting to be around a group of other deaf/HoH teens for the first time in my life.” - 2012 Alum Debra Diepenbrock, Oklahoma Christian University

“Thank you for your amazing program that you have offered me and to other students. It was a wonderful experience, and I know I have grew so much from it. This academy was a life changing experience and I’m glad I was a part of it. Thank you so much again for creating this program and please know that you have made a difference in my life.” - 2009 Alum Sarah McGough, University of Texas, Austin

“Rob and Richard, I am grateful for such a unique experience in a Deaf-friendly environment, which I have never been a part of before. I have learned and grown so much during Summer Academy, and I do not regret my time there. Thank you for providing amazing resources, opportunities, and friendships! Your tireless work made all that possible in just nine weeks, and years for many of us.” - 2013 Alum Jessie Zhang, University of Washington