Professor Profile:Dr. Bentley-Sassaman; professor, mentor and friend

Gabrielle Reyes, Features Editor

As a senior here at Bloomsburg University, you start to know professors in ways you didn’t think you could before. With still respecting the student teacher dynamic, you begin feeling more comfortable with expressing yourself to specific teacher who have been with you throughout your years. 

The professor I have always looked up to is Dr. Jessica Bentley- Sassaman; professor and department coordinator in the American Sign Language/ English Interpreting major.

Knowing I wanted to be an interpreter was easy for me but what environment I wished to focus on was the difficult part. Having her as a professor freshman year made my decision clear as she is an interpreter proficient in the legal setting. 

When my realization for my love of law and ASL/English Interpreting collected, it was apparent to me what I wanted to do with my career with the guidance of Dr. Bentley- Sassaman. This road was not easy as this professor pushes you to achievement you were unaware of achieving.

In honor of her, I wanted to interview her to acknowledge her as a person and a professor here at Bloomsburg University. Something we often forget is that professors are people too. With this interview, I hope it can be clear to understand this statement. 

When did you start working here at Bloomsburg University? 

I started as an adjunct teaching part time in 2006, then I was hired on a tenure track in January, 2007.


What are your favorite class/es to teach?

 My favorite classes to teach are Topics in Interpreting, Deaf-Blind Populations, and Practicum Seminar.


What was you first big achievement? 

I am giving out “first big achievements” by roles. As an interpreter, passing the RID certification exam to be a nationally certified interpreter. As a teacher, I think seeing my first graduating class from start to finish (the class of 2011) was a big achievement as the program had been in moratorium and re-opening to see the first class graduate was exciting.



What would you say is your greatest achievements?  

Personally, as a woman who struggled with unexplained infertility, the conception and birth of my son is one of my greatest achievements. Professionally, when I started at Bloomsburg University the ASL/English Interpreting Program was in moratorium, which means the students who were in the program were allowed to remain and graduate, but no new students were taken in. Along with Ms. Bridget Klein, we revamped the program and it reopened in 2008. In 2018, we earned accreditation from the Collegiate Commission on Interpreter Education. 


What is the most rewarding thing about teaching? 

When alumni keep in contact with me and share their accomplishments, such as, earning national interpreting certifications. The other rewarding experience I have, which other majors may not, is that I see students from their freshman year to senior year. I can see the development in their ASL skills, confidence, and professionalism. 


Is there a quote or saying you live by? 

Philippians 4:6-8 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” 

This verse helps me to let go of what is going on that may cause stress, worry or anxiety and redirect my mind and my thinking to all that is good in my life. I think too often, people dwell on the negative and neglect to see all the positive that is around them. When we focus on the positive in our lives, we feel peace and do not allow the negativity to paralyze or control us.


Are you working on any recent research/ What is next or you? 

Currently I am working with an Honors student on her research project that we would like to publish in a journal once it is complete. I am also working on developing a research study on practicum experiences for interpreting students. 


Is there anything else you’d like to say or add?

 Bloomsburg University is my alma mater, I graduated from the Interpreting Program and I am proud to be back and see how it has changed and grown over the years. This type of program is unique and Bloomsburg has a great reputation for producing students who are qualified interpreters. 

 It was very much appreciated to have the opportunity to interview this professor. It is important to build relationships with your professors as they are there to support you in every way. In some cases, they teach us as we can teach them some things along the way.