Apple CEO Tim Cook to Gallaudet Alumni: ‘Leading with Your Values’

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in a video Last month, Molly Feeney, an undergraduate student at Gallaudet University, signed a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, inviting him to hand in the commencement letter for the school. After about an hour, cook accepted And on Friday he stood before the class of 2022, giving advice, cracking a few jokes, and wishing the outgoing students good luck.

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

Cook — and Apple — have a unique relationship with the university for deaf and hard of hearing students in the nation’s capital. In 2020, every student and faculty member gets an iPad Pro case, Apple Pencil, and Smart Folio Tablet. The program has since expanded to include MacBooks.

Gallaudet was the first university to participate in the Apple Scholarship for Black Students with Disabilities. Students have secured jobs at the Apple Carnegie Library in the county’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, where the company also offers training and other programs for the deaf.

This relationship has allowed the Northeast Washington campus to expand student access, allowing more students the opportunity to excel academically and—eventually—cross graduate school, the leaders say.

Vianney, who gave her undergraduate commencement address on Friday, said she and university officials had considered the idea of ​​inviting Cook to this year’s gala. It was the first in-person graduation ceremony for campus since 2019, and more than 200 college students accepted their degree masks.

“I thought it would be a great idea for him because Apple has contributed so much to the Gallaudet University community,” Feanny said in an email, “We continue our relationships and activities to work and learn despite the Covid pandemic that has kept us separate for 18 months.”

Elijah Henderson, who graduated Friday with an associate’s degree in communication studies, also spoke about some of the benefits of Apple products for deaf students. Among them is FaceTime, another feature that allows users to pair certain hearing aids with Apple devices through a Bluetooth connection, and software that transcribes phone calls in real time. “It only gives deaf people the ability to communicate easily,” Henderson said through an interpreter.

Gallaudet University focuses on virtual classes, exams as virus cases rise

Thomas B. said: Horrigis, associate dean for student success and academic quality, said the partnership also paid off in the classroom. Eighty percent of full-time freshmen who entered Gallaudet in fall 2020 returned for their second year, the second-highest retention rate among a first-year cohort in a decade. The 2020 cohort is also doing better academically – 85% have “good academic standing,” compared to 78% of the 2019 cohort, Horejes wrote in an email.

“Technology plays a key role in supporting ‘exceptional learning and academic excellence across life,’” Horigis said, referring to one of the school’s strategic plan tenants. “Apple has been instrumental in this effort.”

And at one university where about two-thirds of students are eligible for Pell Grants, a federal aid intended for students from low-income families, offering Apple products means every student has access to the same hardware.

“Their access to technology and its resources is a challenge and may represent an academic concern about inequality, affecting students’ overall experience of success,” Horigis said. “This process helps ensure that all students get what they need regardless of their personal finances or the support of their parents.”

Accessibility “is Gallaudet’s standard,” said Sarabeth Sullivan, who finished her doctorate in educational neuroscience in November but passed her graduation Friday morning. I grew up “more hard of hearing” and participated in what the deaf call “the world of hearing.”

Sullivan attended traditional public schools as a child, had friends who were not deaf and went to an audiophile university to earn her undergraduate degree. But she said her experience in the world of hearing at times felt isolated.

“I realized I wanted to feel like I didn’t have to beg for access all the time or explain my needs all the time,” Sullivan said. However, at Gallaudet, her needs are met instinctively – and Apple has made life easier. The Sidecar feature, for example, allows Sullivan to double its screens, using one for taking notes or reading and the other for communicating through video chat.

Gallaudet’s relationship with Apple began when the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center—which houses elementary and secondary education programs—purchased iPads for kindergarten through 12th grade students. The decision came “after evaluating different technology options to determine the most appropriate one for bilingual learning,” Gallaudet president Roberta Cordano said in an open letter to Cook in 2019.

Following the success of the Clerc Center, the partnership was expanded to the campus. In his speech, Cook referred to that relationship.

“As Apple works to design technology that is accessible to everyone, we are very fortunate to have such innovative and committed partners,” Cook said. “It is partly thanks to this community that Apple Maps now has a series of directories that help users locate Deaf and Deaf owned businesses.”

Elsewhere in the region, graduates of Catholic University and George Washington University are preparing for a weekend of graduation events. American University held its graduation ceremonies this past weekend, and Howard University hosted its graduation ceremony on May 7.

Georgetown University has events scheduled between May 20 and 22.

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