White Bear Lake, Minn. (Sept. 7, 2011) — Adriana Wilson, a resident of Cambridge who is originally from Mendoza, Argentina, is a trained architect who turned to Century College when she wanted to become a professional interpreter.
After five consecutive semesters, Wilson this summer earned a credential from Century’s Language Translation and Interpreting program, an academic area that is growing to meet the needs of people who want to interpret in legal, medical, education, business and social service settings. Given the University of Minnesota’s decision to put its program on hold, Century currently offers the state’s only academic program in translation and interpreting.
“The world of interpretation is changing,” said Wilson, who has worked as an independent interpreter and now is seeking a position with a health care facility. “Employers are looking for people who have a certificate in interpreting or translating so that they know you have a certain level of expertise and accuracy. It is not enough that you speak Spanish, for example. You also need the training and the certification.”
Wilson, 36, said she decided a mid-career change from architecture to professional interpreting would be a better fit for her and her family. A native of Argentina, Wilson originally came to Minnesota to participate in an eight-month landscape design program. Then she met her husband, Garth Wilson, an employee of Dundee Nursery, and they were married in 2004.
“My life and my plans changed at that point,” said Wilson. “It never crossed my mind that I might stay in Minnesota, but I have been here eight years now.” The couple has a three-year-old daughter.
Wilson said the Century translation and interpreting program is great for busy working mothers. Most semesters, she has taken two evening classes per week, and she studies on the weekends. She earned a 4.0 grade-point average in the program.
After studying at Century, Wilson said her idea of the role of an interpreter has changed. “I went into the program thinking that an interpreter was more of an advocate,” said Wilson. “But I was pleased to learn that the role of the interpreter is really to enable communication between people, and to be as accurate as possible. Interpreters are trained in ethics and confidentiality, and we learn not to spare feelings or give our personal interpretation.”
Wilson said students in the program form a community and learn much from each other. Communication among students is enhanced by a program blog (http://trincentury.wordpress.com/) and Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/jlqFA).
Century also offered classes through interactive television. Through a partnership with Riverland Community College in Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna, and Rochester Community and Technical College in Rochester, the program is able to reach students in outstate Minnesota, which is becoming increasingly diverse. Following a national trend, demand for professional interpreters has grown at facilities such as the Mayo Clinic.
Because enrollment in Century’s TRIN program has doubled in the last two years, the college recently hired another part-time faculty member to teach TRIN classes. The new instructor, Prof. Rachel Herring, has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish/English from Truman State University, a master’s degree in translation and interpreting from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and is finishing an advanced degree in interpreter training from the Universite de Geneve. She also has worked as a medical interpreter and interpreter trainer in the Northeast, where she lived.
Translators and interpreters were included in the Top 50 Best Careers list in 2011, according to the website of U.S. News & World Report. This area is projected to increase 22 percent between 2008 and 2018 – much faster than the Labor Department’s predicted average for all occupations. Demand is driven by an increasingly global economy, as well as an increasingly large population of non-English speakers in the United States.