After growing up in Rome and attending Georgia School for the Deaf from the ages of 5 to 18, valedictorian Jacquline Williams is excited to venture out of her comfort zone and start the next chapter of her life in Rochester, New York, this fall.

Williams described her experience at GSD as rewarding, saying she has learned a lot about Deaf culture, as well as other cultures.

“There’s so much to learn here and it’s just been wonderful,” she said.

While at GSD, Williams found how much she loved reading and writing through her English teacher Mallory Edge.

“When I first started school, I hated reading books and I didn’t understand why it was important,” Williams said in her graduation speech. “When I met Mallory Edge during my junior year, she showed me so many stories that I could relate to and, through her, I fell in love with reading.”

In the fall, Williams will attend the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, where she plans to study journalism. She hopes to one day be a published author and tell stories that relate to Deaf culture.

“I want to become a writer so that I can share my experiences as a deaf person in a hearing world and invite people to learn and think about the frustrations we have,” Williams said.

She’s been to New York many times over the years, but she doesn’t really know anyone around there. Williams said she plans to take this opportunity to learn how to connect with people.

“I usually just keep to myself,” she said. “But I’m also really looking forward to the snow.”

Besides classes, Williams was involved in Junior National Association of the Deaf at GSD and did a lot of community service, such as visiting elderly homes and volunteering at the Community Kitchen. She was also in Academic Bowl for two years, which she said she really enjoyed.

Feeling very emotional about graduating, Williams said she is going to miss her classmates and the school very much. However, she’s mostly excited about moving forward with her life.

“I’m looking forward to my future, no matter what happens,” Williams said.

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