Success Stories

Photo courtesy of Dayamarali Espinosa.

The InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) published an article on M.A. in International Development (IDMA) graduate student, Dayamarali “Daya” Espinosa, ’18. IDB selected Espinosa, then a recent graduate with a B.A. in International Studies, through a competitive process for a small set of prestigious internship positions. Espinosa is among Gallaudet’s first alumni to work with the IDB in their Washington, D.C. headquarters. You can read the full article, written by Nathalia Vargas Sanchez, here.

Below, Espinosa provides a brief look into her journey to Gallaudet and her internship experiences.

Hola, Bonjour, Hallo, Konnichiwa, and hello!

My name is Dayamarali Espinosa, but I go by the name of “Daya.” I was born in Newark, New Jersey, in June 1994. My whole family originated from Puerto Rico. I’m proud to call myself Hispanic-American.

When I was around two-years-old, my parents and I moved to Puerto Rico to be close to my family and grandparents on my mom’s side since my grandpa was having heart surgery. During this time, my parents noticed something wasn’t right. As they were calling my name and making sounds, I didn’t show any response to them. They took me for an audiology hearing test. As it turns out, I was deaf.

I went to Colegio San Gabriel para Sordos, a non-residential deaf school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Pre-K until the first or second grade. There, I was involved in everything, including theater. I also attended ballet classes outside of school.

Around the second or third grade, my family decided to move to Orlando, Florida, to pursue a better life. I really missed my classmates, my best friends, and Colegio San Gabriel para Sordos. Now, I had to learn how to read and write English.

Eventually, we moved to North Carolina. There, I attended mainstream schools, some with a deaf program and some without. In high school, I went to the Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina. When I was a sophomore, I was having a difficult time passing my classes. So one day my interpreter came to my house to tell me and my family about the North Carolina School for the Deaf (NCSD) in Morganton, which the school system in Charlotte never informed us about. I transferred to NCSD and graduated there in 2013.

Then I went straight to Gallaudet University.

My language background is multilingual. I speak Spanish, English, Puerto Rican Sign Language, American Sign Language (ASL), and Mexican Sign Language (LSM). I am also learning some German, French, Japanese, and Chinese. I love languages and culture. This is one of the reasons why I graduated from Gallaudet with a double major in International Studies and Spanish, and a minor in Government. Currently, I am pursuing a Master of Arts in International Development (IDMA).

In the summer of 2016, I attended my first internship at Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. It was my first time out of the country. Three of my colleagues and I went to Mexico for our internship, which was to work with deaf people, young and old. We interned for 10 weeks, from the end of May to the first week of August. While there, we were taught LSM.

My second internship was at Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Members of the IDB Internship Program visited Gallaudet University to recruit Gallaudet students. I attended that day, and I told myself to just go and see what they offered. I approached one of their team members, gave her my resume, and we sat down for an interview.

She was impressed with my skills and my responses during the interview, especially with my education and language experiences. After going through the selection and interview process, I was chosen among thousands of applicants to be part of the 2018 Summer Internship Program. I was shocked and happy to have that amazing opportunity.

My first day at IDB started with a full-day orientation session where I met other interns, learned about the specific work of the bank, and connected with bank leadership. The next day, my supervisor and I discussed the value of understanding the deaf community and learning some ASL.

This conversation led to what would be my internship project, which was to teach approximately 10 IDB members ASL. I was surprised by the excitement of those at IDB and instead taught two ASL workshops for more than 20 employees from different areas of the organization.

The mission of IDB is to improve the lives of people living in Latin America and the Caribbean. I provided IDB employees with a new perspective to help the organization become a more inclusive workplace for the deaf, deaf-blind, and those with other disabilities. My experience with IDB has benefited me to understand how the bank works, and its focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. This is a great step for me to gain experience working hands-on in international development, and to prepare for graduate school and future career opportunities.
Photos courtesy of Dayamarali Espinosa. She is shown in various shots, at her internship.

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