It’s difficult to catch up with Rebecca
(Becca) Berman ’06, an energetic senior who, since transferring to Smith two
years ago, has been active in Smith theatre and as a Gold Key tour guide. When she’s
not in class, Berman often attends different club meetings to stay informed and to
keep in touch with friends. On Monday nights, she leads the American Sign Language
Table in the Chase-Duckett dining room. As a house community adviser, she attends
regular residential life meetings and keeps suite hours three times a week.
this year pales in comparison to the past two for Berman. During her first semester
at Smith, she sang with Crapapella, a Smith a capella group known to sing off key
intentionally. In the past two years, Berman has played former President Ulysses
S. Grant in The Mother of Us All and the assistant director in Six Characters
in Search of an Author. “I feel like because I’m a transfer, I don’t
have a lot of time,” says Berman, 23. “I’ve done a lot of sampling.”
Lunch breaks serve as another opportunity for an outgoing
Berman to meet people. On one Tuesday, Berman ate in the Chase-Duckett dining room
and bumped into three sophomores from Wilder House, her previous residence. Although
Berman lives in Hubbard House now, she doesn’t eat every meal there. She likes
to hop around campus for these chance opportunities. “I think it’s good
to have friends in other houses,” Berman says as she munches on a fried onion
ring. “Otherwise, everything gets too insular.”
After lunch, she walks to McConnell Hall for her colloquium
Blackness in America. Berman, who is deaf, has two interpreters waiting for her when
she arrives. They take turns jotting down notes and signing to Berman during class.
She listens intently to the professor and her classmates and often raises her hand
to contribute. “It’s something that’s not talked about, racism,
in general,” Berman says afterwards. “It’s a good class to learn
how it’s embedded in our social consciousness.” Berman chuckles, “That
was a real Smithie thing to say!”
who’s from Minneapolis, initially attended the Rochester Institute of Technology
because of its large deaf community. However, she soon learned that she would prefer
studying the liberal arts. Berman was nervous about transferring to Smith, where
this year, she is the only student who uses ASL interpreters, although there are
others with various degrees of hearing loss. The smaller campus eased the transition.
Choosing between a school with a large deaf community or a better academic fit is
a dilemma Berman says many deaf people face.
“Do you want to be in a school that
doesn’t have as much of the social life or have the social life and not be
in a great school?” asks Berman, who’s majoring in sociology with a minor
in public policy. “I’m glad that at Smith I’ve had both the social
life and the academic life.”
After class, Berman returns to her spacious
third-floor single, heavily decorated with colorful bumper stickers and inspirational
quotes, such as “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream
it, you can become it.” She changes the silver button on her “Where’s
Becca?” poster from “Around Campus” to “In My Room.” Berman
holds her suite hours between 3 and 4 p.m., although her housemates know they can
come by anytime.
takes off her shoes and checks her e-mail for messages from her Public Policy seminar.
In April, Berman and her classmates traveled to Washington, D.C. for their final
project on diversity and public programming. There they interviewed senators and
representatives from media advocacy groups and television stations.
After graduation, Berman may travel to Israel for 10
days. Otherwise, she will be job hunting and open to moving just about anywhere,
even though sometimes she misses being a part of an all-signing community.
“I think it’s funny when people say Smith
is not the real world because it’s an all-women’s college,” Berman
says. “That’s what people said at RIT, this isn’t the real world
because it’s all deaf. It’s kind of ironic. But I think that wherever
you go, you can grow as a person. That’s the beauty of things. You can find