He took all general requirement courses during his time there. I'm not quite sure, but I think he only spent one year there. Somehow he heard about the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), and decided that that was where he wanted to go. Mom helped him look for student aid and with a little help from SSI, he was enrolled and started in the early 80's (1983?). I still remember my mom sending him off in his red Malibu Classic for the first time. It was a teary goodbye, very emotional for both of them.
RIT/NTID was really, really a good thing for Rob. I'd like to say he found his identity there, as most people do in college. Most importantly, he gained the confidence he needed to be successful in the workforce. He served as an Resident Advisor for a few years, which turned out to be a great job for him. It paid for most of his room and board, and also forced him to take on new responsibilities. It brought out some good leadership qualities in him and, in a way, it brought me my wife.
For those of you who don't know the story of how I met my wife, it's <<<All Here>>> on my blog. In a short summary though, I had just moved to Milwaukee from St. Paul and Rob was living in the dorms at NTID. He had some girlfriend/groupies that he hung with and he told them his brother Jim was new to Milwaukee and didn't know anyone, so would they send him a letter included in one of his? Four of them did, and after I returned, my wife was the only one who kept writing. We became pen pals and after a visit from her, we did the long distance dating thing, got engaged and then married in 1990. I still credit Rob for giving me my wife and my life.
When I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1985, my mom gave me an airline ticket to go visit Rob at NTID. It was the first time I'd ever flown - at 24 years of age. I visited him in April and the trip had an impact on me that I hadn't expected.
When I arrived, I quickly realized that I was an outsider in more ways than just being a non-student of NTID. I was a hearing person immersed in a deaf world. It was daunting at times, frustrating at times, and incredibly isolating at times.
But more importantly, it absolutely changed my perspective on what a deaf person deals with every day. Here I was in their position for a change. A minority in a majority world. It was eye opening. There were conversations going on around me all the time, that I had no idea what was being said. (Welcome to a deaf man's world). I felt like I was shunned a bit by some groups of friends because I was hearing. (Welcome to a deaf man's world.) I wanted nothing more than to be fully accepted by the deaf people around me despite my "hearing" ability. (Again, welcome to a deaf man's world.)
Now, most of Rob's friends were really, really accepting and gracious to me during my stay. I felt accepted around them. At the same time, I knew that however hard I tried, I could not fully be a part of this community. In some ways I was jealous of what Rob had found in NTID. He fit in fully and completely. I was just the "outsider brother."
It was still a great trip, one I'll never forget. I liked it so much that I went back to visit a second time the following year. I'll talk more about my NTID visits next time. Same blog time, same blog channel.