The Start ASL Team

We are passionate about American Sign Language
and we want to share that passion with you!

The Start ASL team has been educating students for over 10 years and we’re so excited to have you join us! Meet the core team!

Michelle Jay

Founder

Michelle Jay is the founder of StartASL.com. She earned a Bachelor‘s Degree in Deaf Studies, with an emphasis in teaching, from one of the nation’s premier programs at California State University, Northridge. Michelle is a published author and has contributed thought-provoking articles to academic publishers such as Greenhaven Press. Her unique articles have done much to support Deaf Culture, and have been printed in resource publications such as American Chronicle and Perspectives on Diseases & Disorders: Deafness & Hearing Impairments

Start ASL Jasmine Solis

Jasmine Solis

Start ASL Instructor

Jasmine Solis earned her BA in Deaf Studies with a concentration in American Sign Language/English Interpreting from California State University, Northridge. As a student, she was President of the Deaf Studies Association and a member of the Volunteer Interpreting Program. Jasmine worked as an ASL Lab Assistant, a Peer Mentor, and most recently as the Interim Academic Advisor for the Deaf Studies Department. She has experience teaching and tutoring both Deaf and hearing students from a diversity of backgrounds. Her love for research led her to work alongside CSUN professors to conduct studies regarding the lack of People of Color within the field of Interpreting, as well as research regarding confidence and anxiety levels within the Field of Deaf Studies and the impact of the Impostor Syndrome on Students of Color. She has had the opportunity to present this research at the Triennial National Deaf People of Color Conference, The Annual Critical Race in Education Association Conference, The Civil Discourse and Social Change Student Symposium and more.

Stacey Valle

Stacey Valle

Social Education Coordinator

Stacey Valle is Deaf and has known American Sign Language since she was a child. She has an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) and experience providing presentations and workshops on a variety of topics including mental health, relationships, and more. She’s also an avid traveler and content creator who passionately shares about the Deaf communities worldwide. She believes that Deaf and sign language awareness are important in order to inspire change.

Jessica Mayer

Student Relations Coordinator

Jessica Mayer was exposed to a vast and diverse Deaf Community while growing up in Fremont, California. She first learned ASL in high school and continued her education by earning her associate degree in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies from Ohlone College. While going to school, Jessica first volunteered and then worked at the California School for the Deaf, Fremont (CSDF) for over 10 years. Working at CSDF in a full ASL environment taught her how to be a respectful member of the Deaf Community. Jessica has a lot of experience to share and is ready to assist you with your journey to learning ASL and becoming a Deaf Ally.

Dennis Valansi

Website and Technical Support Administrator

Dennis Valansi is a web developer with a passion for design. He has worked internationally, in-house and remotely on projects for leading brands, agencies, startups and charities. He cares deeply about creating world-class, useful and beautiful products that help people and make a difference.

Jared DeBusk

Deaf Actor and Model

Jared DeBusk was born in a small country town called Brooksville, Florida. He is of Dutch, German, French, and Irish descent. DeBusk began acting as a child and he knew that he wanted to be an actor. He trained at several schools and he has performed in various plays. He is a recent graduate from University of South Florida with a BA in Communication Performance Studies.

Crystal Lott

EIPA and NIC Advanced Certified ASL Interpreter

Crystal Lott first started learning ASL in 2000 at Glendale Community College. She graduated from the Interpreter Training Program (ITP) at Phoenix College and currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Arts and Performances from Arizona State University West. Crystal was involved with the AZ Deaf Theatre for many years and is now getting plugged into the Deaf Community in Los Angeles. She aspires to work with Deaf West theatre.

Mark Loyd

RID Certified ASL Interpreter

Mark Loyd comes from a theatrical background and first started learning ASL in 1993 after meeting a Deaf person for the first time and falling in love with the language. He learned ASL primarily through the Deaf community and Interpreter Training Programs (ITP) in Kansas. For the past 16 years, Mark has worked in a variety of settings--mental health, medical, educational, theatre, video relay services (VRS), and more.

Darcy French-Myerson

ASL Interpreter with BA in English-ASL Interpreting and Theatre

Darcy French-Myerson attended Columbia College in Chicago and has interpreted in schools from the elementary to collegiate level, hospitals, big corporations, and in the non-profit sector and the Arts. Darcy has also taught English and Math to Deaf adults seeking their GEDs. Currently, Darcy works as a freelance interpreter throughout Los Angeles and continues to be involved in performance and the Arts.

Mando Garza

Aspiring Deaf Actor at NTID

Mando Garza is an aspiring Deaf actor, business professional, and jack of all trades. Mando has a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. He has been involved with the theatre at the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID) and is now currently working as a CDI and studying paralegal & accounting.

Christine Jones

ITP Graduate and Volunteer Interpreter

Christine Jones is an ITP (Interpreter Training Program) graduate and Deaf Studies student at California State University, Northridge. She is a volunteer interpreter and is currently looking to start a steady interpreting career.

Deborah Kanter

Deaf Signer

Deborah Kanter is Deaf and comes from a primarily hearing family, except for one of her brothers who is Deaf. Deborah was introduced to American Sign Language when she was 5 years old. Deborah is currently attending college and majoring in nursing.

Cristian Tun

Hard of Hearing Signer

Cristian Tun is hard of hearing and started learning ASL when he was 13 years old. He is currently attending college and majoring in acting.