Research indicates that the development of a vocational identity is critical to the process of adult maturation and for creating a sense of purpose in one’s life. Deaf individuals in the United States are increasingly interested in establishing a vocation in signed language interpreting, despite workplace obstacles experienced by other oppressed and marginalized populations. Career identity has been examined in several professions, but little is known about the factors underlying the vocational identity development of Deaf interpreters. To address this gap, the researchers adopted a case study approach to explore the experiences of two Deaf students during their first semester in an undergraduate interpreting program. We analyzed video recordings of interaction between the students and a Deaf instructor, the students’ responses during an end-of-semester interview, and the students’ biographical information. Taken together, the data reveal factors that shaped their paths as interpreters including: (a) educational background, (b) professional experience, (c) bilingual and bicultural fluency, (d) personal identity, and (e) guidance from a Deaf instructor. This paper illuminates how two Deaf students who engaged in separate but interlocking paths developed a vocational identity as interpreters – or changed course – in their career trajectories.



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