Use your degree to connect with the world

Founded in 1975, The Sign Language Studies (SLS) department at Madonna University offers students an opportunity to develop American Sign Language (ASL) skills while providing an understanding of the language and its community. Through extensive training and practice over four years, students will develop the interpreting skills needed to become a professional sign language interpreter.

Degrees Offered



Student Success


Tess Wenderski

After earning her BA in Sign Languge Interpreting and AA in English, Tess Wenderski ('17) attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. to pursue her Masters of Arts in Interpretation and Translation. There she researched the culture of Interpreter Training Programs and the impacts of culture on the eduction of interpreters. 

After graduating, Tess remained in the DMV area. She works primarily in VRS and community settings, and has experience in medical settings through an internship at Washington Hospital Center.

Regarding her time at Madonna, Tess looks back fondly on her experience with the faculty. "Madonna provided a foundation I couldn't have gotten anywhere else. The faculty were always supportive, both when I was a student and after I graduated." As an eternal student of the world, Tess started her journey as an interpreter through her time at Madonna. "I'm forever grateful for my time at Madonna and learning from the Michign deaf communities. I wouldn't be where and who I am today with out them."  



Full-time Faculty and Staff

Daniel McDougall, CSCChair and Associate Professor

B.A., Madonna University

M.A., Oakland University

Ph.D., in progress Heriot-Watt University


734-432-5618, 1405

Daniel McDougall, CSC

Dan McDougall, CSC, is the chair of the Sign Language Studies department. He joined the full time faculty of Madonna University in 2007. He has been a certified interpreter since 1986, specializing in shadowed interpreting for the theatre.

Dan founded TerpTheatre, and is an internationally recognized authority on interpreted theatre (see www.terptheatre.com). He has an extensive background in nonprofit program development and fundraising. He is an alumnus of the SLS department (1986), and holds an MA in Linguistics from Oakland University (1991).

The SLS department awarded him Distinguished Alumnus in 2005. He teaches in the areas of interpretation, advanced American Sign Language, and linguistics.

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Jennifer Berrigan Assistant Professor

B.S., Gallaudet University

M.A., Gallaudet University


VP: 734.666.3071, 1405

Jennifer Berrigan 

 Jennifer Berrigan is an Assistant Professor in the Sign Language Studies department. A Michigan School for the Deaf alumni, Jennifer attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. In 2005, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She continued for her master’s degree in Sign Language Education at Gallaudet University and graduated in 2017.

Amongst her education, she worked as an intern at Tufts University and James Madison University. She also has worked as the SLPI Coordinator for the MI Department of Education LIO. In 2015, Berrigan competed as a snowboarder at the Winter Deaflympics. Berrigan is no stranger to teaching higher education, working most recently as an ASL instructor in Arizona and Michigan.

Berrigan’s goal is to promote better communication access to foster a stronger educational based future for Deaf children.

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Bretagne WhitfordAssistant Professor

B.S., Rochester Institute of Technology

M.S., Rochester Institute of Technology


VP: 734.237.3058, 1405

Bretagne Whitford

Bretagne Whitford is an Assistant Professor in the Sign Language Studies department. Bretagne went to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. In 2009, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration and Public Policy. She continued on for her master’s degree in Deaf Education, acquired in 2011.

Amongst her education, she worked in a research lab and acquired her research interest in deaf children and the familial characteristics that would have an impact on their literacy. She also takes a fascination with ASL assessments and how to accurately document an individual’s ASL proficiency. She had a paper published in 2011 titled Deaf Individuals’ Bilingual Abilities: American Sign Language Proficiency, Reading Skills, and Family Characteristics in Psychology Journal (Vol. 2, No 1, 18-32).

She takes pride teaching sign language particularly, keen to the fact that she is their Deaf role model and provides the students with the appropriate mental and language framework as they enter the Deaf community.

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Photo of Marciano Gongora

Marciano Gongora, BEI ICoordinator

B.A., Madonna University

A.S., Oakland Community College


734-432-5617, 1405

Marciano Gongora, BEI I

As a bilingual professional, Marciano Gongora is actively involved in advocacy and accessibility work. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Sign Language Interpreting in 2018 from Madonna University, Marciano started working as a coordinator for the Sign Language Studies department and is also a certified freelance sign language interpreter. 

As a coordinator, Marciano is actively involved in almost every aspect of the department, from freshman enrollment to practicum placement for seniors. One of his many achievements since starting at Madonna has been the development of a practicum day at a local museum for the senior interpreting students to provide interpreting services for the Metro Detroit Deaf community. 

Marciano is currently enrolled in the Master of Social Work program at Madonna University and anticipates graduating in 2023. He looks forward to a lifelong service of promoting equity and equality.

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Adjunct Faculty

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Cheryl A. AirgoodSLS Instructor

B.A., Madonna University

M.A., Eastern Michigan


M.A., Wayne State 


Cheryl A. Airgood

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Fr. Michael DepcikSLS Instructor

B.A., Gallaudet University

M.A., Gallaudet University

M.Div., Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary


Fr. Michael Depcik

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Mary Ann DeVos, BEI ISLS Instructor

B.S., Eastern Michigan

M.Ed., Lewis and Clark College


Mary Ann DeVos, BEI I

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Katie Fitzpatrick, NIC-ASLS Instructor

B.S., Ferris State University

A.A.S., Oakland Community College

M.A., Gallaudet University


Katie Fitzpatrick, NIC-A

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Barbara Hinson, CSCSLS Instructor

B.A., University of North Florida


Barbara Hinson, CSC

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Michael Meldrum, NICSLS Instructor

B.S., Eastern Michigan University

M.A., Gallaudet University


Michael Meldrum, NIC

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Sharon MeldrumSLS Instructor

B.A., Gallaudet University

M.A., Eastern Michigan University


Sharon Meldrum

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Bridget Mangiardi, NIC, BEI IISLS Instructor

B.A., Madonna University

M.A. TESOL, Madonna University


Bridget Mangiardi, NIC, BEI II

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Leslie PertzSLS Instructor

B.A., Central Michigan University

A.S., Oakland Community College


Leslie Pertz

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