Miss Lincoln University Uses Sign Language to Engage Student with Progressive Hearing Loss

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Janaya Joyner’s passion for sign language shines in interaction with young man

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. – Miss Lincoln University, Janaya Joyner, has captured hearts across the country after an interaction between her and a middle school student communicating in sign language was caught on video by her Advisor and posted to social media.

Miss Lincoln University, Janaya Joyner, meets students at Sedgefield Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina., on February 28, 2017 as part of Education Day in the Miss CIAA competition held in conjunction with the CIAA Tournament. 

“He was hard of hearing, and I’m fluent in American Sign Language so that just excited me because I know he probably never thought he would run into anybody who knew the language,” Joyner says in an interview with HBCU Gameday posted on Facebook.

“They often feel as though they are left out, that everybody doesn’t know their language,” Joyner said.

Joyner had the opportunity to talk with the young man, who has progressive hearing loss, while promoting Lincoln University at the Education Day fair held in conjunction with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament and Miss CIAA competition in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The interaction between Miss Lincoln and the student was captured on video. Lincoln’s Student Life and Development office posted the video of the exchange on Instagram and several pages reposted it. It was even posted on Facebook , where it has received 60,000 views to date.

“I actually started my own American Sign Language Club on campus because that’s something I want to do because that’s something I’m very passionate about,” Joyner said in the HBCU Gameday video. “I plan to open up my own deaf elementary school so that’s just a career goal that I always look forward to.”

Joyner was in Charlotte for a competition among campus queens from the CIAA schools as part of the annual Miss CIAA competition held during the CIAA Tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Joyner placed first runner up for Miss CIAA in the competition between 12 queens, which is the first time a Miss Lincoln has placed in the competition since Lincoln began participating in 2011.

Lincoln University student life director Ihsan “Ziggy” Mujahid (pronounced ISS-sahn MOO-ja-hid) regularly attends the Miss CIAA competition as the Royal Court advisor and said she believes that this experience is one that makes the Queen stronger.

Miss Lincoln University Janaya Joyner (left) stands at center court during the CIAA Tournament finals at the Charlotte Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on February 28, 2017 to receive a $2,000 check from the Food Lion Feeds program. Joyner earned the most online votes in the Miss CIAA competition, which was held in conjunction with the CIAA Tournament. 

“It gives her the opportunity not only to represent her institution, but also to interact with Queens from the other 11 CIAA schools,” Mujahid said.

Of the sign language conversation, Mujahid said Joyner “showed a young man that he was not alone in the world.”

“Her passion for American Sign Language gave her the chance to share information about Lincoln with a young man who others may not have been able to communicate with as wonderfully,” said Mujahid. “Watching the interaction brought a tear to my eye. She’s an amazing Queen and very deserving of every opportunity set before her.”

While in Charlotte, Joyner promoted Lincoln University during a presentation to students at the nearby Sedgefield Elementary School in Charlotte.

Joyner also participated in the other portions of the Miss CIAA competition, including generating online votes that are one factor in how the Miss CIAA winner is chosen. Joyner received the most online votes in the Miss CIAA competition and as a result, $2,000 will be donated on behalf of Miss Lincoln and Lincoln University to the Food Bank of Delaware located in Newark, Delaware.

To compete in the Miss CIAA competition, in addition to the online voting, Joyner took part in an online interview, submitted her academic transcript, wrote an essay, and produced a video promoting Food Lion Feeds.

Joyner was chosen as Miss Lincoln on April 11, 2016 in the annual competition on Lincoln’s campus.  

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Video: Conversation on Facebook

Video: Miss CIAA Submission

Article by Shelley Mix. Photos courtesy of Ihsan Mujahid.