ASL Graduate Pens First Book

Miriam Downing Thor ’12 Works as an ASL Interpreter in Moore County

Miriam Downing Thor, a 2012 alumna of Gardner-Webb University, has a career she loves and is also pursuing her dream to become a published author. An American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for Moore County Schools in Carthage, N.C., Thor recently signed with Anaiah Press to publish her first Christian novella, “Her First Noel.”

Thor was in second grade when she discovered she had a talent for writing stories. “My teacher encouraged me to keep writing to my heart’s content. So I did, and I still do,” she shared.

She also discovered her interest in sign language when she was in elementary school. “A deaf girl attended my church, and a couple of ladies taught a children’s sign language class to help us communicate with her,” she explained. “While I was in high school, one of those ladies taught a beginner’s ASL class. I developed a passion for sign language and felt like God wanted me to pursue something related to signing as my career. In addition, I have always enjoyed teaching children, so I chose to major in elementary education as well, hoping to combine the two in some way.”

Originally from Zachary, La., Thor started searching for a Christian college that offered a major in ASL. “Gardner-Webb was one of the only Christian universities I found,” she said. “After praying about it, I was sure I wanted to attend Gardner-Webb.”

Being on campus with others who loved ASL and shared her Christian faith was inspiring. She attended the student-led worship service regularly and joined FOCUS—a campus ministry involving teams of students who lead youth retreats locally and regionally. She was also a member of Joyful Hands, GWU’s sign language choir.

“I feel like all of these activities helped me to grow in my faith,” Thor affirmed. “I also went on a mission trip to Honduras during my senior year, an experience I will always treasure.”

Learn more about Gardner-Webb’s ASL program.