Chazz Middlebrook '18

American Sign Language & Interpreting

Most people might know Chazz Middlebrook from the football field – breaking school rushing records and even leading all of Division III football in rushing average his junior year. However, during the spring 2018 semester, Middlebrook, an American Sign Language and Interpreting major, could be found on a different stage, interpreting for the deaf and hard of hearing at various locations across Jacksonville for his internship.

 “My internship had me shadowing my mentor who interprets in places like hospitals or at parent-teacher conferences, and he also has a contract with the Illinois School for the Deaf,” Middlebrook said. 

Middlebrook assumed that he would be doing more observing than actually being in the “hot seat” as he calls it. “I think it was like day three when I got thrown into the hot seat to start interpreting and from that point on I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Even though Middlebrook is used to playing football in front of a large crowd, his biggest challenge during his internship was overcoming the fear of interpreting in front of a large group of people. “I don’t know why, I just get so nervous to a point where I don’t want to do it,” Middlebrook said. “But, being at ISD and having to interpret in front of all the kids and staff, you just learn to get over that as the time goes on and you learn that there’s nothing to be scared of.”

As far as his favorite part of the internship, that would be interpreting for patients and their doctors in area hospitals like Memorial Medical Center and Passavant Area Hospital. “It’s like the outside looking in, like I am actually in there with the patient seeing all this stuff that doctors and nurses see,” Middlebrook said. “I just think that’s pretty cool. It’s something you don’t get to see every day, it’s just a great experience.”

Middlebrook was able to put his classroom experience to the test during his internship. “We learned a lot of things in class that had to do with code of ethics or that dealt with certain scenarios or situations that might happen in the real world,” Middlebrook said. “I actually see that for myself now, so having those experiences in the classroom really helped me through this internship.”

As the only member of his family who can hear, Middlebrook transferred to MacMurray in 2015 so that he could be closer to home and become the support his family needs. “I also knew I had the choice of being involved with the deaf community if I chose to transfer to Mac, so it was a win-win situation for me and the obvious choice.”

This internship was even more confirmation for Middlebrook, who recently took a position interpreting at ISD. “I was a little bit skeptical about what I wanted to do once I got into my internship,” he said. “But once I started to experience all the different situations that I’ve experienced, that really pushed me toward wanting to pursue this career because I have a passion for it and I love it so much. It’s something that I can really picture myself doing for the rest of my life.”