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Home > MSSD > MSSD Cordano Inauguration

Celebrating Gallaudet’s First Deaf Female President


History was made on September 30, 2016, with the inauguration of Roberta J. Cordano as the first deaf female president of Gallaudet University. The Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) students marked the occasion in two special ways: 1) a Q&A session with the school community and 2) a performance of an American Sign Language poem during the inauguration ceremony.

For many MSSD students, their first encounter with President Cordano happened during "Snowzilla" in January. She had recently moved into House One on Gallaudet's campus when Washington, D.C. and its surrounding areas were hit by a major snowstorm. President Cordano, who hails from Minnesota, took the storm in stride and even joined MSSD students for sledding one afternoon.

Cordano at MSSD sledding hill

Since taking office in January, President Cordano has taken an active interest in the students at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center's two demonstration schools, Kendall Demonstration Elementary School and MSSD. She invited students from both schools to participate in her inauguration ceremony and, ahead of the installation, she visited both schools for a Q&A assembly. 

At MSSD, the school community gathered on September 20 to learn more about the woman who would lead the University. MSSD seniors Ryan Horner and Selena Alvarez emceed the discussion between President Cordano and the audience.

Cordano Q&A hosts

Students' questions ranged from President Cordano's experiences at high school, to if she'd ever been bullied at school, to what messages she would share with LGBT youth, to favorite books and apps on her phone, to plans as president, to advice for the seniors.

Student asks Cordano question

The students finished the exchange with an invitation for President Cordano to join them for the opening of their new residential dorm in November as well as with the presentation of an MSSD Eagle backpack.

Cordano receives MSSD backpack

At the inauguration ceremony, several MSSD students performed an ASL poem in honor of the new president entitled, "The Quest for Gallaudet's First Deaf Woman President."

MSSD inauguration poem