Jessica Perley

College Student, Advocates Inc. employee

"So, I try to respect deaf culture and also at the same time I have to respect hearing culture. I feel like I’m stuck in the middle between my hearing family and all my deaf friends. It’s really tough for me to find a balance. For example, sometimes I have a hard time identifying myself. I can talk. Am I hard-of-hearing? Am I deaf? I don’t know who I am."

Jessica Perley was born March 28, 1986 in Worcester, MA to Eugenia Maria Sylvia Bandilla-Perley-Jackson and Jeffrey Lee Perley, Sr. Jessica is the younger of two children born to the couple who later divorced. Jessica’s older brother, Jeffrey, is four years older than she is. Jessica’s father remarried and she now has two half siblings, Sheldon and Sassie, to whom she is very close. Jessica has spent her whole life in Worcester and as a child she attended two mainstream schools, McGrath Elementary School and Accelerated Learning Lab, before transferring to The Learning Center for the Deaf at age sixteen. She is currently taking time off from Quinsigamond Community College but hopes to complete her education soon with a degree in either nursing, certified deaf interpreting, or teaching. Her love of helping others, apparent in her choice of majors, can also be seen in her job. Jessica currently works for Advocates Inc. that is dedicated to assisting people with disabilities to overcome challenges in obtaining homes, meaningful work, and satisfying relationships. In the interview Jessica stressed the difficulty she feels in finding her identity. She was raised in the hearing world, as her entire family is hearing, and she was placed in mainstream education programs for the majority of her childhood. However, after experiencing Deaf culture at The Learning Center, Jessica feels that she identifies with the Deaf community.

Interview Date: 
February 18, 2008