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Dissertation Defense for Heather G. Zimmerman

  • Date: April 26, 2019
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: College Hall, Room 318

To: Students, Faculty, and Staff

From: Gaurav Mathur, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School

Re: Dissertation Defense for Heather G. Zimmerman

It is my pleasure to announce that Heather G. Zimmerman, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education, will defend her dissertation on “Transitioning and thriving: Cross-cultural pathways of resilience in deaf youth” on Friday, April 26, at 12:30 p.m. in College Hall, Room 318. The first forty minutes of the dissertation defense are open to the Gallaudet community.

Marginalized people are typically placed at risk for undesirable outcomes or experience significant adversity throughout their lives. Youth, particularly youth from marginalized communities, such as deaf people, are faced with significant challenges as they transition into adulthood. Despite difficult circumstances, some people not only bounce back from these setbacks but also manage to thrive. The ability to bounce back, thwart challenges, and even thrive in the face of environmental adversity is defined as resilience by some scholars. Little is known about how deaf youth, particularly deaf youth across cultures are resilient.  Zimmerman's dissertation aims to investigate the unique and common ways in which deaf people from different cultures are resilient. Mixed methods approaches helped capture the breadth and depth of the studied phenomenon—resilience. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and grounded theory methodology.  Initial findings were shared with participants and stakeholders for further analysis to maximize the transformative potential of the findings. Results of this research depicted unique and similar ways deaf youth were resilient across Western (local) and non-Western cultures (global) and helped broaden universal understanding of resilience.  Findings will be used as a platform for future research and can be utilized to help inform policy and programs to support the potential of individual maximization. 

The members of Zimmerman’s dissertation committee are Dr. Helen Thumann, Department of Education, chair of the dissertation committee; Dr. Donna Mertens, Department of Education (emerita); Dr. Julie Mitchiner, Department of Education; Dr. Thangi Appanah, Department of Education; and Dr.  Khadijat Rashid, Dean of the School of Education, Business and Human Services (SEBHS).

Heather G. Zimmerman is an adjunct instructor, community and international development strategist, culturally responsive researcher/evaluator consultant, and RID certified ASL/English Interpreter. Zimmerman is local to Micronesia and currently living in Washington, D.C. In 2013, Zimmerman earned a masters in International Development with a concentration on the rights of deaf people and people with disabilities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). From 2011 to 2017, Zimmerman established and facilitated the Månha Project, a community-based development initiative in the Micronesia that aimed at promoting deaf rights and mentoring young deaf adults interested in advocacy work. In 2016, her work on the Månha Project was recognized by the Legislature of Guam in a Committee Resolution No. 423-33 (COR) Issued by F. B. Augon, Jr.  In 2017, Zimmerman received an education specialist degree in deaf education with a research focus on cross-cultural resilience and transitioning. Zimmerman has been involved in several research and evaluation projects throughout her graduate career, including the longitudinal evaluation study of the S-STEM Gallaudet Program, the Transitioning Study (led by Dr. Yuknis), and an evaluation for language facilitators and interpreters for ContextGlobal. Throughout her graduate career, she disseminated her scholarship by publishing and presenting locally and internationally. Whether she is facilitating communication while interpreting, mentoring people in educational research and interpreting, or giving back to the deaf community through local and international service projects, her goal is to construct clarity and connections. 

Please join me in extending best wishes to Heather G. Zimmerman for her dissertation defense.

Posted by Elizabeth Gibbons | Posted April 18, 2019 at 4:20 PM


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800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002