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USM graduate, first Deaf Mainer to earn Ph.D., appears on '207'

Regan Thibodeau on '207'

University of Southern Maine (USM) graduate Regan Thibodeau is the first Deaf person from Maine to earn her Ph.D.

The Falmouth native, who just earned her Ph.D. in public policy with a concentration in educational leadership, recently appeared on News Center Maine’s “207” program to describe her experience.

She told reporter Rob Nesbitt there are only 400 Deaf people in the United States who hold Ph.Ds, and only 700 who do so worldwide.

“That inequity I want to address by encouraging more Deaf people to get their Ph.Ds,” she said. “We need to join a seat at the table as stakeholders, become politically involved, to influence the decisions that are impacting Deaf people.”

Thibodeau has been teaching American Sign Language and other classes on Deaf culture at USM for 21 years, and encourages her students to be active in their work with the Deaf community.

“The best part of this job is really inspiring the next generation of interpreters, knowing that they can learn what I teach and develop and ethical and moral compass — as well as sign language and interpreting skills — to improve their perspective sand remember that there is a Deaf person here,” she said.

Thibodeau is one of USM’s 2019 Featured Graduates, graduates who have succeeded at USM by engaging in their classes, their campus and their communities. Watch the “207” piece, and learn more about Regan's USM story.