#DeafSuccess: Cookie Brand, School Counselor

Sep 30, 2020 Cookie Brand recognized early on that she was fortunate to grow up in a large #deaf family, which motivated her to pursue a career in #counseling. As a Miss DC America Pageant participant, a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, and now a school counselor, Cookie uses what she learned from these experiences to connect with families, encourage #accessibility, and help them develop close bonds that will give their deaf children the foundation they need to thrive in every part of life.

Full video description: https://tinyurl.com/y2jo52n5

Video Description:
A black woman sits in a brick-walled living room. She uses American Sign Language.

I’m from a large deaf family. I’m actually sixth generation in my family, and my daughter is seventh generation deaf.

Based on my experiences growing up and recognizing that home life and that nature versus nurture type of thing impacts the way kids learn helped me realize counseling was what I really wanted to do.


Text, Cookie Brand, School Counselor.


I graduated with a major in psychology, and soon realized I still yearned for more, so I became involved in the Miss DC America pageant.


An old photo of Cookie, wearing a sparkling dress, standing in between two women.


I was recognized and acknowledged for my abilities, which I knew would carry me through, and for using the pageant as a platform to raise awareness of the needs and rights of the deaf community. Now, I didn’t win the pageant, but it gave me the motivation to do more. Then I joined the Peace Corps, which led me to work at Kerugoya School for the Deaf, and at that time, the school was looking for deaf youth in the area to field their residential program. Some of the kids were coming in at six, seven, eight, even 14 years of age with significant language deprivation and delays.


An old photo of Cookie playing Jenga with two children. A photo of Cookie smiling and kneeling on the ground next to a plant while surrounded by young people.


At the moment, the school has counselors and social workers, which is pleasing and admirable, but there is still a need for more. Currently, there is close collaboration between the counselors, social workers, teachers, and parents in discussing and dealing with any issues being faced both at home, and the school by the students through coordinated efforts. We have some students who have absolutely no language use at home, which means that due to a lack of social emotional interaction and familial bonds, they suffer from depression or esteem issues, and this manifests itself in various forms.

Some of the parents we interact with sometimes have not yet had an opportunity at acquiring literacy. It is in these moments when I apply my experience from working for the Peace Corps and life knowledge that I’m affirmed of my talents. I’m mindful to use my rapport building skills, including my lived experiences and world knowledge while living in Kenya, and apply them to children’s lives with the hope that they may thrive, because they absolutely have the potential.


Text, hashtag Deaf Success.

Text, black lettering on a white background: nationaldeafcenter.org

“This video was developed under a jointly-funded grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) #HD326D160001. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the federal government.”

Next to it, three logos appear. The first reads “IDEAs that Work” with an arrow drawing a circle from “IDEAs” to “Work” and the words “U.S. Office of Special Education Programs”. The second logo shows a red-and-blue star with text next to it that reads “TA&D”. The third logo shows a blue circle around a tree. In the blue circle are the words “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.”

Subtitles available in English and Spanish | Subtítulos disponibles en español y inglés

Watch more #DeafSuccess stories: https://tinyurl.com/y3gkhtjw

Did you know research shows that deaf teenagers with strong family support are more successful after high school? Learn how to be supportive and why it works: https://www.nationaldea…/re…

Support your deaf high school and college students attending school during the pandemic: https://www.nationaldea…/Fa…

Take a free online course to learn more about deaf culture in just a few hours: https://www.nationaldea…/learn

Questions? Email us: [email protected]

Subscribe to the National Deaf Center YouTube channel for new videos that support and empower deaf youth to succeed after high school: click here.

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© National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
Video licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International

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Topic(s): #DeafSuccess
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