Friday Faculty Focus: Julie Delkamiller


June 23rd, 2017

Dr. Julie Delkamiller poses for a photo. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

This week on Friday Faculty Focus, KVNO report Brandon McDermott speaks with Dr. Julie Delkamiller, associate professor of special education communication disorders in the College of Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Brandon McDermott: Dr. Julie Delkamiller — thanks for joining me.

Dr. Julie Delkamiller: Thank you for having me.

Brandon: You received your Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees all from UNO here in Omaha. That’s pretty uncommon. What does it mean to you to be able to come here and work at the university which he received your higher education?

Dr. Delkamiller: That is unusual to do that. I guess I was just in the right places at the right time. What’s unique about it is, I actually grew up in a really tiny town called Guide Rock, NE (population 225) – I had seven people in my high school graduating class. UNO at that time was the only place in the area that had just an undergraduate degree in deaf education.

So, I knew I had to move to Omaha as an 18-year-old. So that was kind of interesting, but to come back and have Peggy Price — one of the advisers in the College of Education – (she) was still working here when I came back and to know she was one of those people that really guided me and it was just kind of comforting, in a way, to see her. Dr. David Conway had done the undergrad deaf-education and he’s kind of the one that brought me back to my doctoral work.

So it is kind of neat to then be colleagues with people that you just looked up to and it’s kind of interesting to be back here and giving back, in a way.

Brandon: Before you came back here to UNO, after you had graduated and got all your degrees — now that you’re a member of faculty here — you were a high school social studies teacher at the Iowa School for the Deaf. What was that time like for you?

Dr. Delkamiller: That was actually pretty awesome. I actually never thought I would leave, I mean I really thought I would stay there. I was teaching social science and I did everything there I was doing history, psychology, sociology and government.

I had the first group of students deaf students participate in “We the People,” which is a high-level critical thinking, government computation competition like a congressional hearing. So, we were the first ones in the country to do that and I did a lot of the community activities. I just loved interacting with teenagers — I always said I loved teaching teenagers.

It was at that time that I realized that these deaf students, in many ways, functioned as if they had learning disabilities. So I came back here to do my graduate work in learning disabilities, to try to get strategies that were practical, things that I could use right away. I was really passionate about we have to have teachers out there that see deaf individuals as capable, competent and not needing medically fixed (but) needing exposure to experiences.

Brandon: Just reading one of your bio’s here on the UNO website I caught the phrase (you) like educating the whole person, what exactly does that mean?

Dr. Delkamiller: I don’t know if it’s just my love of social sciences, (but) being able to look at the whole person socially, emotionally, academically and in all areas of their life. I think sometimes in education we — especially secondary — we get so focused on content area, we forget that we’re dealing with somebody who has a life outside of that hour that you’re with them. To this day I have a hard time separating that out, I find building relationships with people being of paramount importance.

With the deaf hard-of-hearing, so many times people focus on hearing levels or different thresholds and that’s really not the issue. It is the importance of relationship, the importance of language, the importance of building a rapport and importance of really feeling like you can know somebody without judging them, without needing to change them, but just really being able to interact with them.

Brandon: I know we covered a couple topics here, but is there something else you’d like to add, maybe a topic we didn’t touch on before we go?

Dr. Delkamiller: I just wanted to give a shout out to the UNO students that we have. Again, we’re small little group but it’s I’m just really thankful. I’m very thankful — that’s my primary emotion — that’s the one I try to live out of every day. When I can live out of gratitude, then it helps me put things in the right perspective. I can get frustrated in not getting things graded, I can get frustrated with not having things done the way I want, but I’m really thankful for this campus. I’m thankful for what UNO is was doing for the community and I’m thankful for the collaborative partnerships we have.

Brandon: Dr. Julie Delkamiller, thanks for coming on the show.

Dr. Delkamiller:  Thank you.

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