Impacting an Industry: Associate Feature
When a drop of water falls into a pond, it ripples outwards and changes the water around it…forever!
So, what happens when someone decides to teach a SEE (Signing Exact English) class at a community center? Although it may seem like an insignificant event, the impact of that one class—taught in 1991 in San Mateo, CA—continues to impact the lives of Deaf students in Northern California and beyond.
Julie N., now a school counselor, took that SEE class with her mom. Speaking of the class instructor, Julie shared, “She was my first teacher. I went on to minor in ASL and have been working with Deaf individuals since! She started it all...”
The “she” is Christina Hammrich, owner and president of HIS Sign. Christina’s passion for sign language culminated with the establishment of this interpreting agency. In addition to her responsibilities with HIS Sign, Christina has continued fueling her passion over the years by nurturing, encouraging, and serving as a positive role model for hundreds of interpreters.
Attributes and Strengths
Before HIS Sign existed, Christina always passed on my contact info when she could not accept a job. I became an interpreter mostly because of all the jobs she passed my way. She also encouraged me to work for Sorenson knowing it would be great for my receptive skills. While I was at Sorenson, she encouraged me to get certified. Even though she was already interpretation and transliteration certified (CI/CT), she studied with me. We also got our National Interpreter Certifications (NIC) together.
—Katie M., Interpreter
As her husband, I often hear Christina around the house talking on the phone with seasoned interpreters as well as recent Interpreter Training Programs (ITP) graduates. She offers them advice on pursuing national certification, beneficial workshops, and interpreting agencies (her list of recommendations includes agencies besides HIS Sign). Mostly, she encourages and supports those she talks with.
She made me believe in myself, that I can become an interpreter.
—Katrina S., new interpreter
Since meeting in 2021, she has encouraged me to not only take the VQAS and other screenings but also motivated me to be open to many outlets of interpreting opportunities. As a nervous student on my first step to becoming a professional, she made me feel calm and at ease. After a few hours, signing conversations felt effortless, and I gained the excitement I needed to make the first leap. Christina has been a mentor and solid support system through my professional journey. Her warmth and willingness to share her knowledge of the industry gave me the confidence and support I needed to pursue my career.
—Ali R., recent ITP graduate
Always a multi-tasker, Christina speaks with interpreters for 1-3 hours apiece while also walking or doing some other outdoor activity. She shares her experience and pours out her heart. Christina truly loves helping others interested in interpreting. If I’ve heard her say, “This is the best career!” once, I’ve heard it 1,000 times! And for those that she talks with, the love for her career is evident.
I remember sitting at a table with her in Jamaica when we were working there. She was not in a rush; rather, she spent quality time just listening, engaging, and really showing a passion for this field.
—Dr. Sabrina S., Interpreter and Instructor
Christina is one of the most kind, humble, and generous people that I know. Despite her personal success, Christina continues to seek opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate the success of others. It doesn’t matter if it’s a personal or professional achievement, Christina is the president of your fan club! Christina truly cares about people, and I just love her for that.
—Melanie B., Interpreter and HIS Sign Employee
An illustration of Christina’s unbiased support for the industry: back in 2014, she was mentoring a talented, recent ITP graduate. A cruise coordinator Christina had worked with for a few years told her that they needed a total of six interpreters for a cruise leaving in a few days. Christina got on the phone, reached out to her connections, and—within a day or two—filled the cruise line’s needs. She also went to bat for the recent ITP graduate and got them a spot on the cruise. Her efforts provided five days of focused mentoring experience for the recent ITP graduate, and the experience was a tremendous success for everyone!
It was the most amazing experience of my life that led to other cruise interpreting opportunities for me. On one cruise, I even worked with Christina herself, and we were able to prep, interpret, and review our work together.
—Jeanne M., Interpreter
Over the years, Christina has invited those interested in learning not only to work opportunities and workshops but also to our home. She has held weekly workshops, weekend slumber parties, and one-time special events. During most of them, she provided snacks and food. All were welcome, and all left better than when they arrived.
Christina started hosting study/mentoring sessions at her home to help interpreters who wanted to test for the VQAS/EIPA/NIC. She even offered to lend out helpful material. After I passed the VQAS, she contracted me to work with HIS Sign. On a few occasions, she took another interpreter and myself on some interpreting assignments so that she could observe us and give us feedback, which was extremely helpful.
—Lisa D., Interpreter
From the first day we met, she showed me the level of connection that women in leadership can have. We hadn’t known each other for more than an hour before our conversation went to depths of life, love, loss, and grief. She offered me the connection that I was missing in my professional sphere.
—Amanda D., Interpreter
Christina was one of the first people to believe in me and my interpreting skills. She has helped me every step of the way in my career so far. She gave me my first freelance contract, she has offered advice throughout the years, and she is someone I always reach out to when I need help making decisions in the interpreting field.
—Danielle G., Interpreter
Within HIS Sign, Christina is more than a leader by title. She continues to make an impact by vigorously supporting recruitment initiatives and the scheduling department. She is the “go-to person” when coverage is needed and hard to get. She has almost 1,000 interpreter contacts in her phone. I’ve never understood how she maintains contact with so many, yet she is continually having text conversations with others, connecting not only for professional reasons but also out of personal interest and genuine concern.
Just Christina’s passion alone for the interpreting industry and the Deaf community is enough to impact anyone. Her desire, dedication, and motivation make me want to work harder and support this industry as much as I can. When Christina offers to help, she has it done yesterday and puts in her FULL EFFORT.
—Monica L., HIS Sign Employee
When they first meet Christina, most people get the sense that she is not interested in what they can do for her or for HIS Sign but rather what she can do for them. This feeling was pervasive in the responses I received from those she has impacted.
Christina touched my life in a personal way when I was going through a tough time. I unexpectedly found myself staying with family out of town as a result. As the days turned into weeks, I realized that I needed to return to my job and bring some normalcy to my life. Christina heard about my situation through a mutual contact and kindly offered to help me in a tangible way. The peace of mind it brought me was even more powerful than the gift itself. She didn’t even realize that I was a HIS Sign Interpreter! I will always remember her kindness and generosity.
—Sarah M., Interpreter
She’s genuine…and she has this ability to give more than she receives.
—Janai C., Interpreter
Not only was she kind, but she genuinely wanted to know about me. Most agencies are just looking to onboard to get jobs filled. Although that is the end goal, having a member of management really takes time with you stuck with me.
—Ebony W., Interpreter
Christina is one of the most ambitious, creative, encouraging, and humble women I know.
—Ashley P., Interpreter
Impacting an Industry can be done by doing something small or something big, but the only way you can make an impact is by opening yourself up to others!
For over 30 years, Christina Hammrich has opened herself to others and impacted the ASL Industry. She loves and cares about everyone she meets. I am more fortunate than most because, as her husband, I get to interact with her every day.
Christina Hammrich has made a tremendous impact, and I believe that impact will be felt for generations to come!
Christina has made an impact on me personally as she has been my best friend since we were in 6th grade. Our history has allowed us to grow up together, so we have shared so much. Christina and I have always supported each other both emotionally and physically in every way. My life wouldn’t be complete without her
—Ilene B., HIS Sign Employee
Christina encouraged me to teach a religious signs workshop at Deaf Missions. This gave me the opportunity to network with Deaf leaders. In an effort to support me and the calling in my life, Christina put me in touch with a Deaf Pastor who was joining Converge International Ministries. This led to me joining Converge as well. We are now full-time missionaries to the Deaf!
—Peter D., Interpreter and Missionary
From a personal standpoint, Christina’s involvement in ASL has impacted everyone in our family and our lives! Our son is an interpreter, our family business is an interpreting agency, and we’ve made friends over the past 30 years of involvement in the Deaf community! Our entire life has been blessed because of her love and passion for American Sign Language!
HIS Sign Interpreting: an Interpreting Services Provider and Resource for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Community
To learn more about Christina’s story and how HIS Sign was created, check out Our Story on our website. Also, you can read last month’s Impacting an Industry feature to learn how other individuals are making a difference in the area. Finally, if you have any “mentoring” stories, questions, feedback, or ideas that you would like to share, please feel free to shoot me an email at ImpactingAnIndustry@HISsign.com.