Join us for this next installment of Closing the Gap!  In this episode, we are talking to Patricia Martinez, Spanish translator and interpreter for the Greater Albany Public School District in Albany, Oregon.

Q: Please describe your educational/training background

In 1993 I received my bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Urbanism from the Federico Villarreal National University in Lima, Peru, my country of origin. In April of 2002, I moved to Eugene Oregon with my little 5-year-old daughter. In 2004 I received my certificate in English as a Second Language from Lane Community College. In September 2008 I began my career as a translator/interpreter for the Greater Albany Public School District (GAPS). The profession that I have been doing to date.

Q: Please describe where you work & your occupation

My experience in the world of interpretation and translation in the school environment has been very enriching and, above all, very rewarding. My profession not only applies both verbal and written knowledge of two languages, but it also applies a deep knowledge of the public educational system in the United States. One of my responsibilities now is the training of the new bilingual staff coming to work at GAPS. This is a profession that I have been creating based on experience and preparation in training for interpreters in the medical field and other conferences/training for interpreters.

Q: Career-wise, what have been your proudest moments/highlights/accomplishments so far?

I think one of the highlights of my work with GAPS is being the co-creator of the vetting process for bilingual GAPS staff. Before this process was created in 2014, the bilingual personnel hired by the school district did not have a formal test where the oral and written skills of the applicants for bilingual positions were evaluated. For me it is a way of saying to our Hispanic parents, we respect them and that they deserve quality work when they receive communication from GAPS schools, teachers, and staff.

Q: What are some of your future goals or things you would like to accomplish?

I would like to participate in the creation of an official certification to be an interpreter/translator (in my case in Spanish) in the school environment, I firmly believe that this is a career that has a great future and is a key piece in the communication between families and teachers to achieve the academic and socio-emotional success of our Hispanic students.

Q: What have been some of your biggest career challenges?

I think that one of the great challenges of my career is the understanding and recognition of what the career of a professional interpreter/translator means for monolingual English speakers. Bilingual staff are of great value, and the hard work that this staff does is an indispensable bridge of communication between families, and non-bilingual staff is often underestimated.

Q: Many young women might not be aware of the career available in STEM fields. What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in these fields?

I firmly believe that the support of the family is a key piece to the success of their students. I have always been the best cheerleader for my daughter. I personally have high expectations for my daughter since the beginning of her education. I shared with her experiences about my work, and I showed her what I was making, explaining the details of my work with a vocabulary that she could understand. In those first years of childhood, they are important in creating that curiosity for STEM. My daughter is now an architect and I am very proud of the excellent professional young woman she is now. I love to see the MVSCH newsletters in Spanish now. Such a great resource for parents/families/students!

Q: Do you have any advice for women who are looking to follow in a similar career path?

My advice to women who have some kind of knowledge in the STEM area is to share it! Share with your children, family, and community. I feel that girls need to see themselves more in the people who do this type of work. Often time it feels like these work areas are only accessible to men and it’s not like that.

Q: What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?

In our spare time, my husband and I love to travel to sunny places with warm oceans like Costa Rica. We love spending time with our canine companion of almost 17 years, our beautiful chihuahua, Princess.