Apple CEO Tim Cook to Gallaudet graduates: ‘Lead together with your values’

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In a video final month, Gallaudet University senior Molly Feanny signed a message to Apple chief govt Tim Cook, inviting him to ship the varsity’s graduation deal with. About an hour later, Cook had accepted — and on Friday he stood in entrance of the Class of 2022, the place he imparted recommendation, cracked a few jokes and wished the outgoing cohort of scholars good luck.

“I have one important piece of advice I want to share, so important that it’s the only piece of advice I’m going to share today,” Cook stated. “And that is this: Whatever you do, lead with your values.”

Cook and Apple have a novel relationship with the college for deaf and hard-of-hearing college students within the nation’s capital. In 2020, every pupil and school member was given an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Smart Folio pill case. The program has since expanded to incorporate MacBooks.

Gallaudet was the primary college to take part in an Apple scholarship for disabled college students of colour. Students have landed jobs on the Apple Carnegie Library within the District’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, the place the corporate additionally presents coaching and different programming for deaf individuals.

The relationship has allowed the campus in Northeast Washington to develop accessibility for college students, providing extra college students the prospect to excel academically and — finally — cross the commencement stage, leaders say.

Feanny, who delivered the undergraduate graduation speech Friday, stated she and college officers conceived the concept to ask Cook to this 12 months’s ceremony. It was the campus’s first in-person commencement ceremony since 2019, and greater than 200 mask-clad undergraduates accepted their diplomas.

“I thought it would be a great idea for him to come because Apple has contributed a lot to the Gallaudet University community,” Feanny stated in an electronic mail. “The MacBook laptops and iPads provided to everyone allowed us to maintain a sense of connection and continue our working and learning relationships and activities despite the covid pandemic keeping us apart for 18 months.”

Elijah Henderson, who graduated Friday with a level in communication research, additionally touted some advantages of Apple merchandise for deaf college students. Among them are FaceTime, one other function that permits customers to pair sure listening to aids with Apple units by way of Bluetooth connection, and software program that transcribes telephone calls in actual time. “It just gives deaf people the ability to communicate with ease,” Henderson stated by way of an interpreter.

Gallaudet University pivots to virtual classes, exams as covid cases rise

The partnership has additionally paid off within the classroom, stated Thomas P. Horejes, affiliate provost for pupil success and educational high quality. Eighty % of full-time, first-time freshmen who entered Gallaudet within the fall of 2020 returned for his or her second 12 months, the second-highest retention fee amongst a first-year cohort in a decade. The 2020 cohort can be performing higher academically — 85 % had “academic good standing,” in contrast with 78 % of the 2019 cohort, Horejes wrote in an electronic mail.

“Technology plays a key role in supporting ‘extraordinary learning and academic excellence across the life span,’” Horejes stated, referencing a tenant of the varsity’s strategic plan. “Apple has been instrumental in this effort.”

And at a college the place about two-thirds of scholars are eligible for Pell Grants, federal help reserved for college students from low-income households, the introduction of Apple merchandise means each pupil has entry to the identical {hardware}.

“Their ability to access technology and its resources is challenging and may present an academic inequity concern, which impacts the overall student success experience,” Horejes stated. “This process helps ensure that all students get what they need regardless of their personal finances or with the support of their parents.”

SaraBeth Sullivan, who completed her PhD in academic neuroscience in November however crossed the commencement stage Friday morning, stated accessibility “is the standard of Gallaudet.” She grew up “more hard-of-hearing” and took part in what deaf individuals name “the hearing world.”

Sullivan attended conventional public colleges as a baby, had pals who weren’t deaf and went to a listening to college for her undergraduate diploma. But, she stated, her experiences within the listening to world at occasions felt isolating.

“I realized I wanted to feel more like I didn’t have to beg for accessibility all the time or explain my needs all the time,” Sullivan stated. At Gallaudet, nevertheless, her wants are instinctively met — and Apple has made life simpler. The Sidecar function, for instance, permits Sullivan to double her screens, utilizing one for taking notes or studying and one other to speak by way of video chat.

Gallaudet’s relationship with Apple started when its Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center — which homes elementary and secondary education schemes — bought iPads for kindergarten by way of Twelfth-grade college students. The determination got here “after various technological options were assessed to decide the best fit for bilingual learning,” Gallaudet President Roberta Cordano stated in an open letter to Cook in 2019.

After the success on the Clerc Center, the partnership was expanded to the college campus. Cook, in his deal with, gave a nod to that relationship.

“As Apple works to design technology that is accessible to all, we are incredibly fortunate to have such innovative and committed partners,” Cook stated. “It’s thanks in part to this community that Apple Maps now has a series of guides that help users identify deaf-owned and deaf-friendly businesses.”

Elsewhere within the District, Catholic and George Washington University graduates are getting ready for a weekend of graduation occasions. American University held its commencement ceremonies final weekend and Howard University hosted its convocation May 7.

Georgetown University has occasions scheduled between May 20 and 22.

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Lauren Lumpkin

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