Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Cynthia Juarez

Name: Cynthia Juarez
Age: 35
Education (UR and additional): B.A. in American Sign Language, University of Rochester. 2000.
Current city/state of residence: El Monte, CA.
Job Title: General Manager
Employer: Maxim Healthcare Services
Family: two dogs, nine year old dachshund and a five year old Siberian Husky

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I applied to, about, eight schools I was really interested in.  The final decision was based on finances, but isn’t everything? U of R was able to give me a really good financial aid package.

When and how did you choose your major?

I came in as a Biology major, and I needed to take an English class but was told I couldn’t because the nursing students were being given priority, so I had to choose a fourth class fairly quickly.  I saw the ASL class and thought “why not?”  After taking that first class, I was hooked!  I loved the language, the culture, and everything!  I wanted to learn as much as I could about ASL, deaf culture, and the deaf community.  So, I switched majors and, pretty much, took every ASL class available.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was involved in as much as I could be.  I was able to meet several different people, and this helped my understanding of different cultures and communities while strengthening my own beliefs and ideas.  It also helped me experience and learn a lot more than what was provided inside a classroom.  I was a member of SALSA, NSBE, SHPE, ACCC, Hillel, Newman Community, Strong Jugglers, D’Motions, and Wado-Ryu Karate, I tried the gymnastics club one day but couldn’t move the next day after the workout, so I stopped going back.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Immediately after graduation, I came back to Los Angeles and started working at a temp agency, so I could start somewhere.  From there, I applied and was hired as a social worker for the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center, which supplies services and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities.  I was hired to work in the “Early Start” unit and specifically with children under three years old.  My knowledge of ASL was a strength and asset to ELARC as well as the school districts that I worked with. Some of the children on my caseload were there because their parents were deaf, and consequently, even though the child could hear, they were not exposed to English.  The children’s ASL was great. Their language acquisition was fine, but they just didn’t speak English.  So, I was able to explain the policies, services, and more available to the parents in their own language. Also, I was able to translate school meetings for them.  I chose this path because I’ve always wanted to do something with social services.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I currently work for Maxim Healthcare Services.  I am the general manager for the respite office in Pasadena, CA.  I chose this career path because there was more opportunity for growth with Maxim than with the social services I was doing previously.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

It’s tough sometimes.  I get caught up in work and what has to be completed, but I try to leave my work at work.  I try not to bring work home with me or deal with it on my time off. Also, I have two dogs that help lift my spirits when I need it and an annual pass to Disneyland, so my siblings and I will go to the Disneyland resort on weekends and just hang out as if we were kids again.

What advice do you have for current students?

I remember Dean Burgett telling us to major in something we like and not based on what will make us wealthy.  He said, “the money will come.”  Looking back now, I’m glad I majored in ASL because it opened up doors for me that I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.  I enjoyed my time at U of R, and I loved all the ASL classes I had.  I looked forward to going to class, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  You’re going to school for you.  Enjoy it., and take advantage of it.  “Major in something you like and the money will come.”

Just as a side note, the company I work for now is always hiring and there are several offices in the United States.  You don’t have to have tons of experience to start out either, and it’s a good stepping stone for new grads –