Student Stories: John Manzano

John Manzano


Major: American Sign Language Interpreting

When John Manzano was in high school, he decided to enroll in the school’s first American Sign Language class.

“I decided to take a break from Spanish and learn something new. Within the first few weeks, I found myself completely invested into the language and culture,” he said. “With learning came benefits. I was working at Panera and had plenty of deaf customers, and we would communicate using ASL. They really appreciated that I took the time to talk with them and use their language.”

Although he had a feeling he should major in ASL interpreting, Manzano attended a four-year college to pursue a different career. He was feeling lost but was encouraged when a friend who attended College of DuPage told him about the ASL Interpreting program.

“From previous students, I heard nothing but positive things about the campus and the environment as well as the faculty,” he said. “Within my first few minutes on campus and meeting my ASL professor, Adam Wasilewski, I had that realization that COD was going to bring me nothing but benefits and a positive outlook for my future.”

COD helped Manzano become more professional and independent. Commuting to campus helped him prioritize his time and dealing with expenses – from buying gas for his car to purchasing tea at Starbucks – made him more fiscally responsible. As for his academic success, he thanks the faculty.

“Through their hard work and proficient means of communication, I am able to learn effectively and retain the knowledge through pure interest, all while converting that interest into a connection between me and my professors,” he said. “I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for COD’s outstanding and welcoming faculty.”

He also found work through the Learning Commons as an In-Class Assistant (ICA) and a Peer Tutor.

“Working helped me grow a passion for education. Seeing my peers and other students thrive and overcome obstacles delivered the most prideful smile to my face. Every day I learn more about myself and see how much I’ve grown since coming to COD. Until the day I walk off campus, I will continue to smile and work harder thanks to COD.” 

His goal is to graduate with both an Associate in Applied Science degree and a certificate in American Sign Language Interpreting, after which Manzano wants to become a licensed interpreter and transfer for his bachelor’s degree, he has no concrete plans beyond that as he wants to focus on enjoying his remaining time at COD.

Manzano believes COD has much to offer any student who is open to the benefits of attending a community college.

“COD’s campus is welcoming, open and resourceful. If you find yourself conflicted while settling on a major, you are in no rush. Use this time to discover yourself and make everlasting friendships and connections,” he said. “For those who are considering the ASL Interpreting program, get ready for the best of the best. Learning a language is never easy, but it’s a challenge with a grand prize at the end. This program consists of the most resourceful and genuine professors who will bring the best out of you. They are more than happy to teach you their language, so please respect it and keep those hands up and moving! Ever since I started my career at COD, Adam Wasilewski has done so much for me to see me thrive, and if it wasn't for him, I don’t think I would be as successful and motivated as I am today. Thank you, Adam, for all that you have done for me as well as for my fellow peers.

“Going to COD has taught me much more than I can express. I am so grateful to have transferred to COD.”

More about the American Sign Language Interpreting program