Julie Olson Rand never wanted a 9-to-5 office job. But she did want to earn a decent living. So after completing a bachelor’s degree in studio art from the University of Minnesota, she decided to enroll at St. Catherine and earn her degree in ASL interpreting.
“Before signing up, I talked to Laurie Swabey,” Julie recalls. The longtime ASL/interpreting professor described a typical career of an ASL interpreter — a combination of part-time contracts working for a range of clients and employers. “That was really appealing to me,” says Julie, who has stitched “about five part-time jobs” into a fulfilling career.
Today, Julie works half time as an ASL interpreter for Deaf patients and medical personnel at Allina Health Systems. Another 10 hours a week, she serves as an ASL interpreter for Z Video Relay Service in Little Canada, Minnesota, a service that helps Deaf people communicate with hearing people remotely, in real time, over video telephones. She also interprets for area colleges and universities on a freelance basis. And she teaches as an adjunct at St. Kate’s.
In hindsight, Julie appreciates that faculty members encouraged her to get involved in the department’s popular ASL club while she was a student. “Before St. Kate’s, I never considered myself a leader,” she says, “but Paula [Gajewski Mickelson] saw it in me, and before I knew it, I was becoming a face for this program.”
Julie also volunteers for local Deaf organizations, building trust among people in the community. “I love the freedom and independence this career gives me,” she says. “I'm never bored, and I feel like the work I do is making a difference in people's lives.”