When Jennie Sabo saw the discrimination her deaf sister faced, she was compelled to make a difference. “I watched what my sister went through and is still going through and knew I needed to help” Sabo said. It motivated her and drove her career in education, eventually leading her to OCC.
Sabo started working at OCC in 2006 after learning the college shared her passion for building an American Sign Language (ASL) program. Creating the curriculum for an ASL program had always been her dream. Sabo gave up a higher-paying job as an ASL teacher and professional interpreter to work at OCC. Her hard work paid off three years ago when the program produced its first graduating class.
Building the program wasn’t easy. But it was very rewarding to see the first group of students graduate from the program three years ago.
Now, there are 60 students at all levels of the American Sign Language program at OCC and its only growing. Over the past couple of years, Sabo and her team of dedicated ASL instructors have been working tirelessly to grow the program and help students. Sabo also works tirelessly to expand accessibility for Deaf students on campus. Students see her dedication and love her for it.
“Whether in the classroom or outside of it, her personality and kindheartedness are what makes Jennie an amazing woman and professor,” said Missy Azzolino, a student in the ASL program. “She has instilled a sense of responsibility in me that I was missing when I first entered college after high school.”
When asked why she stayed at OCC, Sabo responded: “Everyone at OCC really cares about what they are doing and for me that makes all the difference. Everyone has really embraced the program and embraced creating a more accessible environment for Deaf people.”
Jennie Sabo is the program coordinator for the American Sign Language Department in the World Languages Department at Onondaga Community College. She recently celebrated her 40th anniversary with her husband. She has a daughter and two grandchildren. Outside of work, she likes to make as much time as possible to spend with her loving family.