Graduate Program Eliminates Barriers

Spanish Translation and Interpreting Studies is a developing field in Texas. With a multicultural and multilingual community that helps the influx of immigrants from Central and Latin America, language barriers continue to hinder political and social justice.

The Graduate Certificate in Spanish Translation and Interpreting Studies is a 15-hour certificate program that offers graduate students studying Spanish the opportunity to use their skills in language mediation to help various groups of people: victims of domestic violence, people held in detention centers seeking asylum and those suffering from breast cancer.

Melissa Wallace is the assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and is the main advisor, recruiter and professor of the graduate certificate program. She explains that language barriers in social and political settings are pressing issues.

“Befitting of a community- oriented university in the heart of multilingual and multicultural south Texas, the certificate is a program that emphasizes the ways in which language mediation fits within broader social and political systems, raising awareness about the fact that issues of language access are issues of human rights and social justice,” Wallace explained.

“My focus has been on expanding the program to include interpreting studies, exposing students to current research trends in our discipline, mentoring students in their own research trajectories and forging relationships with several community partners so that our practicum can include hands-on translation and interpreting experience.”

For most students, this certificate program is used as a supplement to their degree and helps further themselves in their area of expertise. For graduate student Marcela Lopez, this certificate complements her master’s in Language Teaching that she received from the University of Missouri.

“This program has helped me understand the importance of being trained to perform translations and interpretations,” Lopez said. “I have been doing my practicum interpreting in

a hospital and that allows me to practice what I have learned about the theory of interpreting.”

This program is directly geared toward bettering the greater San Antonio community. The students receiving this certification can work in three settings. Those looking for a career in the medical field can find work at The University of Texas Health Science Center’s Cancer Therapy and Research Center, where students will interpret in breast oncology centers, clinical trial settings, genetic clinics, infusion centers and the chemotherapy ward.

Students can also work in a sociological or public service setting at the Kendall County Women’s Shelter in Boerne, translating documents of domestic violence victims. Lastly, this program has also joined forces with the organization American Gateway to translate the personal narratives of detainees who are seeking asylum in the United States.

“In the past two academic years, our program has expanded to include interpreting studies and has opened up options for the practicum component to include collaboration with San Antonio leaders in medicine, social services and the law,” Wallace said.

“For the moment, our next step is to continue to strengthen the graduate certificate program and to develop a strong program of study for our undergraduates. As our program grows and becomes more consolidated, the sky is really the limit.”

Anyone interested in
the Graduate Certificate
in Spanish Translation and Interpreting Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures can contact Melissa Wallace at [email protected].