DeMarco Pittman made history when he became the first deaf African American student picked for Georgia State’s Homecoming Court.
By Rebecca Rakoczy
As DeMarco Pittman walks down the halls on Georgia State’s Decatur campus, he’s greeted warmly by students with hugs, handshakes and backslaps. The 19-year-old sophomore is well liked here, and he’s happy to return the love.
But when Pittman was first approached this fall to run for the university’s Homecoming Court, he was skeptical. He’d never run for any student life office, let alone a university-wide contest.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I could do that kind of thing, but decided to give it try,” he said.
Once he made the decision to run, he was on a mission. With a group of friends, he put up posters and appeared at several student events. Students on the Decatur campus sported “Vote for DeMarco” t-shirts. Pittman even participated in a 5K, passing out “Vote for DeMarco” stickers as he ran the event. His campaign emphasized the need for more student involvement and volunteerism, a cleaner campus and better cafeteria food options.
Pittman’s enthusiasm and personality, and his supporters’ hard work, resulted in a successful campaign. In winning however, Pittman made history as the first deaf African American student in Georgia State’s Royalty Homecoming Court.
Pittman was surprised and delighted about his win, and so were his fans. His Facebook video using American Sign Language (with an interpreter) to signal his love for the Georgia State has garnered more than 20,000 likes.
“I didn’t know how many likes I had until my mom brought it to my attention,” he said. “I don’t think it really matters to people whether I was a deaf candidate. For me, deafness is not a disability.”
Pittman is the first in his family to go to college. The youngest of five siblings — two of his sisters are also deaf — Pittman aspires to be a middle school science teacher, and one day become a principal.
He has run a personal training business for the past three years, helping other students stay in shape, and hopes to have a training day on campus in the future.
Pittman plans to receive his associate degree this summer and transfer to the Atlanta Campus to pursue his degree in middle school education.
Photo by Bill Roa