Student Stories: Carly Gaerlan

Carly Gaelarn


Major: American Sign Language Interpreting

Carly Gaerlan started her college education at Illinois State University seeking a degree in Deaf Education. 

However, while she still wanted to work with the deaf population, Gaerlan decided teaching was not the right path to take. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and, as she began searching for the right career, learned more about interpreting as a profession.  

“I did research on a few interpreting programs and decided on College of DuPage for a number reasons,” she said. “Many programs I looked at were out of state, and I liked that COD was close to home. COD was affordable – since this was my second degree, I was not able to receive financial help. Lastly, but most importantly, COD’s Interpreting program has a deaf director and deaf staff. When learning a language, it is important to learn from native users.” 

The American Sign Language Interpreting program helped Gaerlan receive the training needed to become licensed and work as an interpreter.

“The teachers were very honest,” she said. “I liked this because it helped me to focus on my strengths and where I needed to improve. Once in the interpreting classes, the groups were smaller which is helpful, and the small groups became family. The program also helped me to connect with professionals in the field.”

Having earned the American Sign Language Interpreting Certificate, Gaerlan is ready to move her career forward in the interpreting field. She has taken the EIPA (Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment) and is now an Educational Interpreter; is gaining another interpreting license to work freelance; and continues to improve her skills in order to obtain higher levels of licensure, which will allow her to work in an even greater number of areas.

Gaerlan’s goal is to build her own ASL interpreting business, which would allow her to experience many types of interpreting jobs. 

“The various experiences will only help me continue to grow,” she said. “The business will also give me the flexibility to spend time with my family and control my work/life balance. My ultimate career goal is to work as an ASL interpreter at large events, like ComicCon and the Chicago Auto Show.”

COD provided Gaerlan with the education she needed to succeed, and she advises students considering the program to go all in.

“Take every chance you have to use the language every second you possibly can,” she said. “It is not going to be easy, but it is definitely worth it.”

More about the American Sign Language Interpreting program