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MC Spotlight: Brandi Knauer
Many students dream of attending college, but for some, making that dream a reality can be financially overwhelming. For Brandi Knauer, receiving a tuition-free education was made possible through the UPS/Metropolitan College program.
Knauer, a graduate of Manual High School (Louisville, KY), works third shift as a part-time package handler and quality trainer at UPS Worldport in Louisville, KY to qualify for the company’s tuition benefit.
When asked how the UPS/Metropolitan College program has supported her in reaching her educational and career goals, Knauer replied:
“The [UPS/Metropolitan College] program has supported me by covering my tuition, offering [academic] bonuses, and book reimbursements for each class in my college career. I have enjoyed not having the financial stresses of funding my college career or plummeting into debt and worrying about paying off all of my student loans in the years to come.”
Knauer, a senior at the University of Louisville, initially came to college undecided about her major. However, by the start of her second year, she knew that American Sign Language Interpreting Studies was her calling. “I took an American Sign Language (ASL) class to fulfill my foreign language requirement,” said Knauer. “Little did I know that I would fall in love with the language and the Deaf community."
Knauer has participated in the Metropolitan College program for the past five years. She has maintained an impressive 3.64 cumulative GPA and will graduate debt-free with her bachelor’s degree in May 2018.
During her time in the Metropolitan College program, Knauer has been active in community service related to the Deaf community and regularly exceeds the hours required for her program. She regularly attends Deaf social events in which she has met deaf UPS employees and established a rapport. Knauer has completed several social justice projects in the interest of working with and supporting marginalized groups. Additionally, Knauer is skilled in intermediate conversational Spanish.
Knauer commented that her role as a quality trainer at UPS has been invaluable; she has learned how to develop interpersonal communication skills by working as a team. “In my career field, I will be working with [diverse populations] all of the time. Having those interpersonal communication skills will help me to be successful [in my] career,” said Knauer.
Currently, Knauer is completing a practicum at Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC) in which she closely observes a certified interpreter throughout the day in various class settings. “I am learning so much. I get a firsthand look at what goes on behind the scenes and some of the business practices that are involved with this profession,” said Knauer. On a typical day, Knauer also helps to interpret the lectures and interactions that Deaf students have with other students and their instructors and then later debriefs with her mentor to discuss what parts of her work can be improved and what parts were effective.
Knauer’s on-site supervisor, Venetia Lacy, Coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Services at JCTC, had this to say:
JCTC has collaborated with the University of Louisville American Sign Language Interpreting Studies for a number of years now. It has been both an honor and a pleasure to work closely with Brandi during her senior year as she hones her craft and masters new skills. I believe Brandi’s UPS connections has proven to be a wonderful asset to the students of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Services here at Jefferson. UPS is one of the largest employers for the deaf. Two of the students Brandi serves work for UPS; so having her choose Jefferson for her practicum placement has been beneficial for everyone involved.
Prior to her JCTC practicum, Knauer worked as a tutor for Reach Tutoring Services at the University of Louisville for two years in which she directed conversational tables to help with skill development and provided one-on-one assistance for ASL.
As you can imagine, maintaining work-life balance can be challenging - even for the most talented and motivated individuals. “Working at UPS has taught me to manage my time very well,” said Knauer. Knauer recommends investing in a planner to manage your time and encourages current and prospective Metropolitan College participants to set goals often and reward yourself in the process so that you will feel inspired to achieve your goals.
Moreover, on the occasions when Knauer feels overwhelmed by her schedule, she recites her favorite quote: This too shall pass. “There are many obstacles in life and sometimes perseverance can be difficult,” remarked Knauer. “This quote helps me to remember when I am [stressed] that I won't always feel that way and to push through with the big picture in mind.” Knauer also emphasized that her parents have been the best support system that she could ever ask for and have been incredibly instrumental in helping her to realize the “big picture”.
It is because of Knauer’s outstanding leadership and commitment to excellence that she was selected as one of the recipients of the Spring 2018 Outstanding Metropolitan College Student Award. Knauer will be recognized at the University of Louisville’s annual awards and recognition ceremony on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 7 p.m. in the Student Activities Center Multipurpose Room.
Knauer concluded her interview by sharing that working at UPS and participating in the Metropolitan College program has been her proudest accomplishment in life thus far. Knauer wholeheartedly acknowledged:
“I did not give up, I pushed through all the challenges – balancing sleep, maintaining good grades and a healthy social life. I worked hard to earn my degree - debt-free –and no one can ever take that away from me!” said Knauer.
Knauer is grateful for the UPS/Metropolitan College program for making her dream of attending college debt-free a reality. Knauer is eager to embark on the next chapter of her life. Knauer’s future career goals are to become nationally certified and licensed as a sign language interpreter and work in the mental health field. She also plans to find a mentor and obtain her temporary license and work towards certification and full licensure.
Metropolitan College congratulates Brandi Knauer on her outstanding accomplishments and wishes her all the best with her future endeavors.
Metropolitan College is looking for current and former Metropolitan College participants to spotlight! If you know of someone, please contact Renecia Griffie Davis, Student Development Counselor at email@example.com or 502-852-2534.
“This journey has not been easy … but hard work and perseverance pay off,” says Smith who has already earned nearly $30,000 in tuition benefits, book reimbursements and academic bonuses.
"Thanks to UPS, I can go to school and graduate debt free!"