Photo by Craig Kohlruss

Nancy Grosz Sager (1977), College of Health and Human Services

By ESRA HASHEM

As Nancy Grosz Sager is led by her service dog, Whisper, through the halls of Fresno State’s Lab School, she is reliving one of her favorite memories.

“It was a perfect moment in time,” Nancy says as she recalls walking the same path to class 40 years ago.

Growing up in a blue-collar family, Nancy never imagined she’d go to college, let alone pursue graduate school and make a major impact on deaf education.

Nancy earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from University of California, Santa Barbara in 1974. When she learned her passion for sign language, deaf culture and teaching, her mentors encouraged her to pursue graduate school at Fresno State, which was known for its leading deaf education program. She earned a master’s degree in 1977, as well as multiple credentials.

Nancy taught deaf and hard of hearing students of all ages in Sutter County for 14 years before teaching at the college level.

“When I first wanted to be a teacher of the deaf, I thought I’d do that to help deaf people,” Nancy says. “I learned pretty quickly that deaf people don’t need my help. Deaf kids need good teachers just like all kids need good teachers, and I was going to be the best teacher that I could.”

Nancy served as the special education program coordinator for the Sutter County Superintendent of Schools Office for seven years, where she oversaw services for 12 school districts. In 1998, she began her current role as the deaf and hard of hearing programs consultant for the California Department of Education.

Nancy has been called “instrumental” in transforming interpreting services in California, improving early education programs and assisting parents in the deaf community. She facilitated the development of three major documents, providing resources and quality educational standards for the deaf community.

Nancy supports Fresno State’s Silent Garden program, which provides educational resources to the deaf and hard of hearing community in Central California. When she’s not working, she is pursuing a doctoral degree from University of the Pacific.

“I’ve been to many schools, but when people ask me where I went to college, I say I went to Fresno State,” Nancy says. “This is where my heart is.”