When Bastrop native Akeya Peoples began her college career, she pursued a higher education down a road less traveled, and opted to pursue a major that few have attempted to obtain – Interpreter ASL (American Sign Language)/English
Although she does not posses a hearing or speaking disorder, she wanted to major in the unique field to see what it was like.
“It was different,” Peoples said. “This was something that not many people are doing.”
Peoples graduated from Bastrop High in 1998, she went on to earn her associates and bachelor degrees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock., in a major that transformed her into a sign language interpreter.
Not knowing what to expect, Peoples eased into the major which materialized into a whole new world of people like she'd never known.
“The people I work with are the most wonderful people in the world,” she said. “I can't say enough about how much they care for each other and the people around them.”
Peoples was invited to Louisiana State University on Jan. 24, to sign during “A Night With Dr. Maya Angeleu,” the well known poet who was the first one to be invited to the White House.
“She is nationally known for the poems she has written, such as 'Why Do Caged Birds Sing?'
Peoples now lives in Baton Rouge where she works as a private contractor and freelance worker. She said the majority of her jobs are medical or educational related, meaning she accompanies her deaf client to the doctor or a college class, and interprets what the doctor or teacher is saying. She said her schedule takes her all over Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
“I had the regular job with the regular pay check and I decided that's not for me,” she said. “Interpreting is becoming a dying breed. I'm so thankful that we have these young people who are showing an interest in it.”
Peoples said that even though she didn't obsess over what to be when she grew up, she is secure in her decision and the positive changes it has created.
“I'm a much different person than those I work with,” she said. “I don't' like waiting [for someone or something] and I don't' like hiding [from someone,]” she said. “The people I work with have patience like I've never seen. They're teaching me to have patience and so much more.”