ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) — Nic Zapko was introduced to the public as Gov. Tim Walz’s sign language interpreter in March 2020, as Walz began to give daily coronavirus updates.
She has been by his side for several major moments in the past year, and her contributions are being recognized and awareness is being brought to the deaf and hard of hearing community.
To honor her, Walz signed a proclamation marking Tuesday as “Nic Zapko Day”.
“The recognition is one that brings us together because we a basic need is to communicate,” president of LinguaOne Tessa Donato said. “Right? So when we are able to communicate, on the same level or same footing then we can build a lot of bridges.”
With sign language becoming one of the most learned languages in the country, Minnesota State University Mankato’s College of Allied Health and Nursing emphasizes the importance of learning this skill when working in the field.
“We are teaching folks about how to approach different people using different sign styles, everyone has their own different styles and I am trying to impact the students and explain to them that they are community members and that they have to be accountable,” MNSU professor Kari Sween said.
MNSU offers several courses in sign languages both in-person and online to the students that are unable to make it to campus.
The department at Mankato is optimistic about the future representation and appreciation for interpreters because of the governor’s recent recognition of Zapko.