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Graduation exercises at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind will be Thursday, May 25, with the day’s activities beginning at 10 a.m. in Hawkins Chapel with the annual Baccalaureate Service. Speaker for the Baccalaureate service will be Laura D. Grill, Executive Vice President of East Alabama Medical Center.
Ms. Grill joined East Alabama Medical Center in June 1992. East Alabama Medical Center is an acute care community hospital located in Opelika. Prior to joining East Alabama Medical Center, Ms. Grill served as the Director of Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services at Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 1984 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Masters in Business Administration in 1990 from the University of Alabama.
Ms. Grill is a member of the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, American Organization of Nurse Executives, Healthcare Roundtable for Executives, American Hospital Association Political Action Committee and Premier Inc. Patient Care Executives. Ms. Grill is a diplomat for the American College of Healthcare Executives and a board certified nursing administrator by the American Nursing Credentialing Center. Ms. Grill has served as adjunct professor at UAB School of Health Related Professions and Auburn University School of Nursing. She is involved in numerous community and civic organizations. She currently serves as Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Lay Eucharist Minister, and serves on the Boards of the J. W. Darden Wellness Foundation, Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti, Auburn University Women’s Leadership and the AIDB Foundation. Ms. Grill previously served as a board member for Habitat for Humanity of Lee County and the Chamber of Commerce of Opelika.
Helen Keller School (HKS) Commencement
Commencement exercises at the Helen Keller School will be held at 1:30 p.m. in Wood Hall Auditorium.
Speaker will be Ashley Jackson. Ashley came to Tennessee School for the Blind as a five year old in 1997. After graduation from TSB, Ashley attended the Helen Keller National Center in New York for one year and then enrolled in the University of Tennessee where she is completing her junior year with a focus of study in education. She is in the process of awaiting training with Leader Dogs for the blind. She plans to pursue a career in education and public speaking.
Candidates for graduation at HKS are Patrice Edwards of Dothan, Emily Meadows of Talladega, Benjamin Tyler Sturdivant of Talladega, James Thompson of Talladega and Jacob Watts of Heflin.
Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) Commencement
Commencement exercises at Alabama School for the Deaf will be held at 3:30 p.m. in McFarlane Auditorium.
Speaker will be Melissa Socorro Draganac-Hawk, President of the National Association of the Deaf.
Melissa is a first-generation American. She was born to deaf immigrant Peruvian parents, and attended Lexington School for the Deaf in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. Upon graduation in 1992, she enrolled at Gallaudet University, earning degrees in American Sign Language and Theatre Arts in 1998. After graduation, Melissa spent a year as an instructor and trainer working with individual who are deaf and hard of hearing in Mysore, India. From 2000 to 2003, she was a member of the Salk Institute American Sign Language Research Group. While studying for her master’s degree in linguistics at Gallaudet, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Her work experience includes teaching at several colleges, including Gallaudet University; Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she created a bachelor’s degree program in interpreting and a minor in sign language studies; Mesa College in San Diego, California; Community College of Philadelphia; and the University of Pennsylvania. She also served for three years as executive director of Deaf Women United, and for four years on that organization’s board, including two years as president.
Currently, Melissa is an American Sign Language specialist at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of the Deaf, and as president of the National Council of Hispano Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She is a member of the American Sign Language Teachers Association and the Linguistic Society of America
ASD Valedictorian is Cathleen DeMouey of Semmes and Salutatorians are Kristen Latham of Eufaula and Andrew Underwood of Cedar Bluff.
Cathleen DeMouey is the daughter of Randy DeMouey of Semmes, Alabama and Cathy Gautier of Gulf Port, Mississippi. Cathleen has been a member of the Lady Warriors Volleyball and Basketball Teams, Junior National Association for the Deaf and Student Body Government. Cathleen will attend Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. after graduation to major in general studies to follow her passions.
Kristen Latham is the daughter of Mr. Darnell and Mrs. Vinesa Latham of Eufaula, Alabama. Kristen has been a member of the Lady Warriors Basketball Team, Junior National Association for the Deaf and Student Body Government. Kristen plans to attend E.H. Gentry as she continues to pursue her post-secondary education goals at a local community college.
Andrew Underwood is the son of Shelby Underwood of Cedar Bluff, Alabama. Andrew has been a member of the Silent Warriors football and basketball teams. He is currently a member of the Junior National Association of the Deaf and is very motivated to succeed in life. Andrew will attend the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY after graduation to focus in the field of technology.
Candidates for graduation at ASD are Jasper Crosson of Oxford, Cathleen DeMouey of Semmes, Joel Farmer of Trussville, Tyrell Holmes of Dothan, Edwin Johnson of Mobile, Kristen Latham of Eufaula, Justin Mitchell of Talladega, Eloy Garcia of Tuscaloosa, Andrew Underwood of Cedar Bluff, Kiley Westendick of Oxford and Cordell Woolsey of Opp.
Alabama School for the Blind (ASB) Commencement
Commencement exercises at the Alabama School for the Blind will be held at 7 p.m. in Oliver Hall Auditorium.
Speaker will be Brodie Croyle, Executive Director of Big Oak Ranch.
Brodie Croyle serves as the Executive Director of Big Oak Ranch, a Christian home for children who have been orphaned, abused, neglected or abandoned. Brodie is a former Crimson Tide and NFL quarterback, playing with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Arizona Cardinals. During his time at Alabama, he led his team to a 10-win season in 2005 and became Alabama’s all-time leading passer in 2006 – he is now third, behind A. J. McCarron and John Parker Wilson. For the Alabama Crimson Tide, Brodie set numerous school records, and was a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist. Croyle led the Crimson Tide to the 2006 Cotton Bowl Classic and was named the game’s offensive MVP.
ASB Valedictorian is Cynthia May Tillery of Jackson and Salutatorian is Curtis Taylor Jr. of Birmingham.
Cynthia May Tillery is the daughter of Kim and Steve Baker from Jackson, Alabama. She is a member of Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, chorus, the Student Government Association, and the Drama Club. She was runner-up in the Miss ASB Pageant and a member of the Homecoming Court. She is President of Mu Alpha Theta and will serve as Valedictorian of the ASB Class of 2017. Cynthia will attend the University of Southern Mississippi on an Academic Excellence Scholarship. She plans to major in political science to prepare herself to enter law school.
Curtis Taylor Jr. is the son of Curtis Taylor and Kathy Gregory of Birmingham, Alabama. He is currently captain of the track team and the wrestling team. He is President of the Senior Class and the Student Government Association. He is a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, band, and Drama Club. Curtis received the Alabama Youth Leadership Award for 2016, and he has been named Salutatorian of the ASB Senior Class of 2017. Curtis will be attending Alabama A&M in the fall to major in business administration and management.
Candidates for ASB graduation are Regan Hope Arnold of Anniston, Norman Wayne Carter Jr. of Mobile, Christian Javier Guevara of Anniston, Cheylin Ellexis Jones of Birmingham, Anissia Corde’ Kennebrew of Selma, Amie Kyia Long of Dothan, Edith Brooke Pope of West Blocton, Daniel Sean Tailfeathers of Dothan, Curtis Taylor Jr. of Birmingham, Teran Jarius Thompson of Huntsville and Cynthia May Tillery of Jackson.
Established in 1858, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind is America’s most comprehensive provider of education and services to people who are blind, deaf, deaf-blind or have multiple disabilities. Through five campuses in Talladega and eight Regional Centers throughout the state, AIDB provides services to over 24,500 people per year.