Tawnya is a Nationally Certified Interpreter with 30 years experience interpreting in Educational, Legal, Mental Health, Entertainment/Cruising, Medical, Religious, and VRS settings. She has taught sign language and mentored interpreters. She is Co-Owner of Angel Interpreting Agency as well as co-creator of TerpTracker. Her favorite thing to interpret is music and she has led numerous sign choirs throughout the years. She has toured as a presenter with TerpExpo.
Tawnya M Kelley was born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK. Growing up a dancer, she had decided on that as a career. At the age of 14, she quit dancing for personal reasons and was going through a time of grief. It was at this time that she was introduced to American Sign Language. A sign choir came to her church and she was moved to tears at the beautiful, expressiveness of the language set to music. She was hooked. She joined the choir and began learning Sign Language from her peers.
Eventually she moved away to Friends University in Wichita, KS. As a freshman in college, she sought out a church with a Deaf ministry and instantly immersed herself. After a couple of years she found herself thrown into the world of interpreting on an occasional basis. She will tell you her “schooling” has been the “school of hard knocks.” She married, graduated with her B.A. in Religion and Philosophy, and began her family. She served as an inner-city missionary in LA, CA, eventually moving back to Kansas and then to Florida in 1996.
While raising her children as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, she was always involved with the Deaf community, teaching sign language classes, leading sign choirs, and mentoring interpreters. While expecting her seventh child, she became a single mom and a year later became a full-time educational interpreter She will always be grateful to her Deaf friends back in high school who had so patiently taught her the skills that now made it possible to provide for her large family. She worked as an Educational Interpreter and Community Interpreter in Citrus County, FL for 5 years. In an effort to provide a better living for her children, she tested and received numerous teaching certifications. During this time she volunteered her time doing prison and jail ministry which led to her becoming an ordained minister. She left the school system to work full-time at a maximum security juvenile prison as a mental health technician, hoping to transition to a teaching position within the prison when a position became available. Her opportunity to earn a better wage came when her friend encouraged her to apply to Sorenson Video Relay Service. She was hired in the fall of 2008. When her eldest son was about to start college, she moved her whole family to Tampa and continued working for Sorenson as well as doing community interpreting.
She was a single mother happily raising her seven children for nearly ten years when she married Gary Kelley. He quickly signed them up to interpret on cruises and opened up a whole new world of interpreting to her.
A fun interactive exploring the different possibilities of interpreting in different settings.
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