On November 17, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2022 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize individuals who are making a bold difference right here in the Central Valley. We will highlight the ten honorees in our Heroes Blog Series.

hero22_nchance_smName: Nikki Chance

Occupation: Regional Trainer, Interpreter Education and Professional Development, Sorenson

Nominated By: Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies

After 23 years of interpreting, Nikki Chance still finds the profession captivating.

“I love the art of interpreting,” Chance said. “It is truly an art! It is so much more than the language choices…it’s more than what English word or ASL sign to use. It’s absolutely an art to navigate the delicate balance among the language choices, multiple cultures, varied communication styles/preferences, power dynamics and so much more.”

This love is what inspired Chance to pursue a bachelor’s degree in deaf education at Fresno State in 2000. At that time, an interpreting program was not yet available within the Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies (CSDS). However, faculty were so impressed with Chance’s academic superiority and professionalism, they encouraged her to design her own master’s degree program (which she graduated from in 2003). Then – partially inspired by Chance’s passion – a bachelor’s degree in interpreting was later developed.

“It is rare that students design their own degree program in such a way that it brings about a substantive curricular innovation that benefits future students, the standing of the university, and the student herself,” Dr. Serena Johnson, associate professor within the department, said.

Chance considers Fresno State her home. It’s where she got her start as an interpreter and as a professional. While on campus, she worked as an intern supervisor for the newly established interpreting program.

 “I am a strong proponent of providing an avenue for future interpreters to learn and grow and was thrilled about the opportunity for others have a starting place for their interpreting career,” Chance said of this role. 

At the university, Chance also served coordinator of Interpreting Services for the Services for Students with Disabilities office on campus and today, serves as a part-time lecturer in the CSDS department. Additionally, she is always ready and willing to assist whenever there is a difficult interpreting assignment or major event on campus in need of interpreting services. 

In 2004, Chance was hired by Sorenson Communications, a company that provides accessible communications via video relay and interpreting services for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community worldwide. Originally brought on as a part-time interpreter, Chance eventually worked her way up to become the director of the Fresno Call Center and served in this capacity for 13 years.

She is now a regional trainer for Interpreter Education and Professional Development, working to enhance the skills of interpreters across the west coast. She credits her incredible team at the Fresno Center for making her a better interpreter and leader. 

“Sorenson’s mission statement speaks directly to why I do what I do: connect beyond words,” Chance said. “Interpreting is about community and the people. That individuals who do not have a shared language can communicate effectively and both have access and the ability to connect authentically…that’s where the magic happens.”

The 2022 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held virtually this year. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.