Troy University alumna Meagan Gorsuch’s message to others is to live life to the fullest and it is a message that she takes to heart every day in her own life.
Gorsuch, who received her master’s degree in Adult Education during TROY’s summer commencement on July 28, was born legally deaf and blind.
“One of the things that people don’t realize about children who are blind is they may not walk if they don’t have help. I would refuse to walk unless I was holding someone’s hand and as soon as they would let go, I would sit down,” she said. “They actually thought I had mobility issues, but really, I just could not see where I was going and didn’t feel comfortable enough to walk on my own. I still don’t have depth perception.”
At 18 months old, it also became evident that Gorsuch faced issues with hearing as well.
“The moment people realized I was deaf came when I slept through an air show at a military base,” she said. “I was perfectly comfy in my car seat. All the other kids were screaming because they were scared.”
Gorsuch never let anything deter her from leading the active lifestyle she desired.
“I was a competitive cheerleader growing up. I first started out as a gymnast, but bars, beams and vault were not my friend. Because I was blind, all I could do was tumble on a flat surface,” she said. “I discovered cheerleading, which was similar to gymnastics but without the bars, beam and vault. I didn’t have to do any of that, I could just tumble. After cheerleading for so many years, I basically aged out after age 18. I did find a gym that offered cheer with unlimited age, so I was able to meet one of my goals by going to the Cheer Worlds (championships).”
Today, Gorsuch enjoys snow skiing, which she says is her favorite recreational activity, and also rock climbs and regularly rides a Onewheel.
Gorsuch has approached her education with the same vigor and determination, earning her bachelor’s degree in Interpreter Training.
“There is not a program for deaf people to go through to become a certified deaf interpreter, so I went through the traditional ASL interpreting program, which allowed me to understand the background of interpreting,” she said. “I have always been the deaf client so getting the degree kind of gave me the behind the scenes – what to expect – as an interpreter. Once I take the test and pass, I will help hearing interpreters with the people who may use more home signs or gestures rather ASL. ASL is my first language; I grew up with ASL. I would be able to take what is spoken in English and the interpreter signs to me and I would be able to interpret that to the deaf person. The deaf client could sign to me, and if it isn’t traditional ASL, I have a better chance of untangling what was just signed to me and give it to the hearing person.”
When Gorsuch was unable to test for her certification, she began looking for a master’s program that she felt would equip her to fulfill her goal of helping others who work with deaf, blind or deaf-blind clients.
“I have a lot of diverse topics that I’m familiar with. I’m deaf-blind, so I live that life. As a deaf-blind person, I am skilled in assistive technology,” she said. “I felt like the Adult Education degree would be beneficial for me because I can then develop workshops and they would be more credible. When I develop workshops for other interpreters to learn more about deaf-blindness or maybe they have a client that is learning how to use assistive technology, they can learn about those technologies so that they can better interpret to those clients. I felt like it would be beneficial for me to have a master’s because not only do I have experience with the assistive technology and deaf-blind topics, I now also understand how to break down the objectives better.”
After doing some research and receiving feedback from professors, she settled on TROY’s online adult education master’s program.
“My experience with TROY was pretty smooth, especially considering I have multiple disabilities,” Gorsuch said. “I’ve always been very pro-active and stayed ahead with my coursework, so I knew that part wasn’t going to be an issue. I was able to work with the disability office. I really enjoyed my master’s program. The adult education program helped to teach me how to develop the objectives, organize them and have assessments. I knew that the adult education degree was the one for me.”
Gorsuch completed the program, traveling from her New Mexico home with her husband Jim and her guide dog Henna, who has been with her since 2019, to walk across the stage at Trojan Arena. Gorsuch’s grandmother Melissa Sanders Sauls was also on hand to watch her realize another one of her goals.
Gorsuch hopes others will follow her lead and let nothing stand in the way of achieving their goals.
“Even though I’m deaf-blind, I go out and try new things,” she said. “If something doesn’t work, find other ways. Don’t let one little obstacle stop you, and just live your life to the fullest that you can.”