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Melissa Malzkuhn speaks to the Obama Foundation about deaf literacy

Melissa Malzkuhn (’15) speaks of the importance of literacy in the deaf community

Applications are open for summer 2023. Early application deadline is January 15th. Applications will remain open as space allows. A limited number of SVA housing grants will be available for students coming from outside the immediate area. If you’re an educator, be sure to ask us about our Educator’s Scholarship. Click to RSVP.

“The best thing about the MFAVN program is the friendships and the networking you develop. I’m still in touch with my cohort and faculty members, and I enjoy following new students of the MFAVN family!” Melissa Malzkuhn (’15)

Melissa is an activist, academic, artist, and digital strategist with a love for language play, interactive experiences, and community-based change. In 2018, Melissa was appointed one of the first class of twenty Obama Fellows by the Obama Foundation, out of 20,000 applicants. She founded and leads creative research and development at Motion Light Lab, at Gallaudet University, where the lab creates bilingual storybook apps to support literacy development, and develops 3D signing characters. Her production company developed an app to teach American Sign Language, The ASL App, which has been downloaded over two million times. In 2020, Melissa was recognized by Ashoka as a leading social entrepreneur. Motion Light Lab recently secured a $1 million grant from LEGO Foundation to launch a global effort to improve language access for deaf children and their families.

Third-generation deaf, she has organized deaf youth, fostering leadership and self-representation. “For a very long time, deaf people’s stories have been told by everyone else but them. Now it’s time for us to tell our stories, along with their complicated truths, and to see us represented both onscreen and offscreen.”

Learn more about Melissa and her projects at mezmalz.com and Motionlightlab.com. Her spotlight post on President Obama’s Fellowship site is a must-read.

Follow her on Instagram @motionlightlab and @theaslapp

RSVP for our online Info Session on 11/9 to learn more about our low-residency storytelling MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City (RSVP link in bio) then apply now to the program that helped take Melissa’s career to the next level. Attendees receive an $80 application fee waiver if they apply for Summer 2023.

If you’re an educator, be sure to ask us about our Educator’s Scholarship. A limited number of SVA housing grants will be available for students coming from outside the immediate area.

Early application deadline is 1/15/23, with application reviews continuing as seats remain available.

Start your application here.

RSVP to the 11/9 Info session and learn more about our low-residency and multidisciplinary Visual Narrative MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. 

Credits: Photo of Melissa is a still from her Obama Foundation presentation advocating for deaf community literacy.