First deaf student earns doctoral degree at UNR
RENO, Nev. ” A 35-year-old Hungarian woman who moved to the United States to study psychology more than a decade ago has become the first deaf student to earn a doctoral degree at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Edina Jambor was 15 years old when she lost her hearing as the result of a car accident.
With no services for the deaf available in her native Hungary, she struggled to keep up with her studies, but went on to earn a college degree there in English and American studies.
She learned sign language and later enrolled at California State University, Northridge, where she earned a master’s degree in social psychology.
“I could communicate with people. I had my life back once more,” said Jambor, now the executive director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advocacy Resource Center in Sparks.
“I always say there are three stages of my life: One stage is before I became deaf. I was always a very outgoing girl, always a social butterfly,” Jabor told the Reno Gazette-Journal before she was to receive her doctoral degree in social psychology from UNR at Friday afternoon’s commencement ceremony.
“Then, I became deaf. I still had friends and was still a happy girl, but I didn’t really have a social life. I couldn’t go to parties or do things other teenagers do,” she said.
“So, I came to America and learned to sign, and now, I can communicate fully, and I feel I am a social butterfly again,” she said. “It was the best decision of my life to come here. I am myself again, and here I can really fully realize my potential.”
Marta Elliott, an associate professor of sociology who served as Jambor’s dissertation adviser, said it took Jabor nine years to complete her master’s and doctoral work but she never gave up.
“It’s very unusual for a deaf person to achieve this,” Elliott said. “But Edina is very determined, and she does not use her deafness as an excuse, ever.”
“And she is widely adored because she is so positive and sweet,” Elliott said.
Patty Orr, who first met Jambor more than a dozen years ago when they were both counselors at a summer camp in Oregon for the speech impaired, said her friend’s determination to get a doctorate came as no surprise.
“Even though the United States has a lot of services for the deaf, you have to advocate for yourself and overcome obstacles, and she just kept doing that,” said Orr, a speech pathologist at Hidden Valley Elementary School. “She’s motivated, obviously, but she’s also very much a people person and very kind.”
Jambor said her work at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advocacy Center has become her dream job.
“I’ve always wanted to help the deaf and hard of hearing community, but in this position I have the good fortune to be able to create a bridge between the hearing and the deaf because I can explain what it means to be deaf, what it is like to be a deaf person and the different needs and rights of the deaf and the hard of hearing,” she said.
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