news-category: Black History Month Profile

Javonda Adams, ’22, Honors Her Black History and Culture Every Day

black history month graphic

Gardner-Webb Alumna Pursuing Master’s in American Sign Language Pedagogy

“If you do not like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is one of Javonda Adams’ heroes, and the above quote one of her favorites. Adams, an alumna of Gardner-Webb University, is inspired by the famous poet’s strong mindset and personality. “(She) helped me stand firm and keep moving,” Adams remarked. “Whenever life throws me curveballs, I still rise and keep moving.”

Adams, of Gastonia, N.C., is deaf and graduated in May 2022 with a bachelor’s in American Sign Language (ASL). She is happy to be back on campus this semester while completing her master’s degree in ASL pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado (UNCO) in Greeley. As a requirement for the degree, Adams must observe an ASL teacher for 300 hours of her practicum to be met. “GWU feels like home,” she reflected. “I am proud to say that I am always a GWU alumna.”

Photo by Danielle Billups

During the celebration of Black History Month in February, Adams is grateful for her culture and the legacy passed down from Black leaders as well as her family and ancestors. She believes that honoring Black history should be a daily recognition of the many achievements of Black people and the ways they invested their time to make a difference for future generations.

“My grandmother was also my hero,” Adams related. “She died in March 2022. She and I were very close, and I have always admired her. She was the strongest woman, who loved God and showed how humble and loving she was, because she never judged anyone but loved everyone with compassion and kindness.”

On Gardner-Webb’s campus, Adams was surrounded by support and friendship. Students welcomed her, and she gave them insight into what a deaf person experiences.

Gardner-Webb’s ASL program prepares graduates for graduate school, interpreting, teaching, and other careers where communication with the deaf and hard of hearing are necessary. On the Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI) rating scale, graduates typically earn advanced or higher ratings. Alumni demonstrate proficiency in receptive and expressive ASL and are knowledgeable about Deaf culture and history.

Adams appreciates her professors, Bob Moore and Russ Gribble, who prepared her with the information and skills she needed to succeed in graduate school. “I want to give them credit for everything that I learned from them. Thank you!” Adams stated. “Right now, I am a graduate teaching assistant at UNCO, teaching students via Zoom, and I am doing a little bit of teaching and reviewing with them to help their ASL skills improve. I am still focusing on my classes to complete, so I can walk onto the stage to get my master’s degree in December. I want to be an ASL teacher to college students.”

Black History Month Events

  • February 1-28
    • National African American Read-In (Exhibit in Dover Library)
      • Make literacy a significant part of Black History Month—and throughout the year—by reading books, poems, and speeches by black authors.
  • GWU Voices
    • Look for stories in the GWU Newscenter celebrating alumni and students who are impacting their communities.
  • Monday, Feb. 6
    • 3 to 4 p.m. – National Inventors’ Day: Highlighting Black Inventors, celebrate the lives and achievements of black inventors in history. Room 103, Dover Memorial Library.
  • Thursday, Feb. 9
    • 2 to 4 p.m. – A Slice of History: Trivia and Free Pizza, Tucker Student Center Lobby.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 14 (Frederick Douglass’ Birthday)
    • 3 to 4 p.m. – Frederick Douglass Day is celebrated on his birthday to remember this author, publisher, writer, orator, and most prominent African American abolitionist of his time. Room 103, Dover Memorial Library.
  • Monday, Feb. 20
    • 6 to 7 p.m. – Diversity Dialogues: My Hair, My Crown. A discussion aimed at celebrating Black hairstyles and diversity. Third Floor, Tucker Student Center.
  • Thursday, Feb. 23
    • Open Mic Night – 8 p.m., Tucker Student Center.
  • Black History Month: A Family Affair
    • TBD – Sign up with friends and compete for prizes in Black History team trivia. Enjoy good music and food while you test your knowledge of Black culture and history.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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