What one junior lacks in hearing, she gains through the faith and support of her family and the UA community

By Elise Murray ’12 and Ceri Turner ’12

Junior Quintina Frink appears to be a typical high school student. She wakes up and goes to school every weekday morning. On weekends, she plays games with her family, socializes with her friends, and goes to church. During the fall, she attends cross country. Frink is a normal teenage girl, except for one thing: She is deaf.

Not only does Frink have complete hearing loss, but as does every other member in her 13-person family. All 11 children, from age five to 23, and both parents are affected by deafness. This hereditary quirk, instead of pushing them apart, serves only to fuse the Frink family closer together.

“We get along a lot better than most families,” Frink said. “We’re close… We understand each other really well [and] we understand each other’s feelings and what it’s like in the hearing world. We really feel connected.”

From the eldest to the youngest, the entire Frink family communicates entirely through the use of sign language. Everybody had mastered signing at a very young age.

“Well…my parents are [both] deaf and they of course sign,” said Frink. “You watch it and, just like hearing people, you learn the language just growing up.”

When communicating with those not fluent in sign language, she relies on the services of an interpreter to help her with both her studies and socializing.

“Without [my interpreters], it would be quiet all day. I wouldn’t be able to talk and I couldn’t understand,” she said. “[Also], I learn better with an interpreter [because they translate what teachers are saying].

The styles of an interpreter, just as with a teacher, vary from person to person. In every class Frink attends, she needs to learn not only the personality and style of the teacher, but also adapt to a variety of different interpreters and their own styles.

“One interpreter… has a totally different style of signing, and I have to say, you know, hold on, wait a minute… but it was her style,” she said. “Some [interpreters] sign bigger, some sign smaller, some in exact English and some in ASL. It’s a mix.”

ASL and English, although they sound alike, have many differences. English is exact, with more spelling of words, while ASL is it’s very own language for the deaf.

Frink, in regards to her interpreters, has her own preferences. She said that while all interpretors are an immense help, certain ones are better suited for certain subjects.

“I prefer different interpreters in [different] classes,” she said. “[For] physics, I prefer an interpreter that can sign English, so I can really understand the words and vocabulary and process it better. In history, I prefer a person who likes to really get into that story and explain it.”

From an academic standpoint, Frink’s communication barriers are easily overcome. In fact, she said she even feels privileged here at UAHS.

“There are lots of [teachers] who believe in me more than [the way a] a normal person would believe in me,” she said. “If I was hearing, I might just be another normal person to them, but [since I’m deaf] they teach me more.”

In her studies, Frink overcomes her challenges and excels. From a social and extracurricular standpoint, she again has an experience different from other UAHS students. For example, Frink does not have an interpreter with her while she’s running with the cross-country team.

“While running, I communicate with gesture..or we’ll point to things,” said Frink.

Even with the difficulty of communication with the cross-country team during practice, Frink shares her excitement of being on the team and the closeness she feels with her teammates.

“When I first joined cross country… I didn’t know what to do, but [I] just went with it,” she said. “Later I met people and I felt more connected with them [and] I have more friendships and relationships.”

No matter what Frink is doing, she shows the pride and love of her family, and the joy of bring who she is.

“[Our situation] is just different,” she said. “Honestly, we’re proud.” The Frink family—with all 11 children, both parents, and the family dog—poses for a family portrait. The family communicates via sign language. Photo courtesy by Quintina Frink