Interpreter Spotlight: Meet Nelida Rojas
Nelida Rojas is a Spanish language medical and education interpreter. This is the latest in our series of Liberty Language Services Blog posts highlighting the variety of careers available in the field of interpreting, and the variety of professional language specialists who work as Liberty interpreters.
How did you get started as an interpreter?
I believe in God and believe that He sends angels to help us when we are in need. I had a few in my life, and one of them helped me to find this job. I started attending classes at a community college years ago. One of the students was an interpreter, and he told me how useful this job was for him when he was at school. That was the main reason I applied for this position. I’ve been a Spanish interpreter for about six years and I must say that, out of all the jobs I’ve done, this is the most satisfying job I’ve ever had.
Do you remember your first interpreting assignment?
My first assignment, which I still remember vividly, was at the Psychiatric Unit. I had an eight-hour shift with a particularly difficult sexual assault case. This first assignment was quite tough to complete due to the emotional complexities of the scenario, which as professional interpreters we learn to deal with over time and with experience.
How do you prepare for your assignments?
I am fortunate to have a good background in medicine, which makes things easier for me. If I am asked to assist in areas that I am unfamiliar with, such as education, I always ask for information ahead of time if it is accessible, or I learn as much as possible on the topic.
How has Covid-19 affected your work as an interpreter?
Fortunately, Covid-19 did not have an impact on my work, as it did for many other interpreters. Not long before the pandemic began, I began working in the emergency department of a northern Virginia hospital because few interpreters were willing to accept the risk, and I haven’t stopped since. I must admit that while I am not terrified of this virus, I do respect it. Therefore, I take all precautions necessary to keep myself and my family safe.
What do you think is the most important thing you should do to be a successful interpreter?
To succeed in this position, it is critical to keep your knowledge up to date, study as much as possible, prepare for your tasks, and most importantly, understand how to tailor the interpretation technique to any case while keeping the roots and ethics of the interpretation method in mind.
What would you like changed or improved in the interpreting industry?
I believe that this work should be acknowledged as a vital communication tool in many areas of the educational and healthcare systems. There should be more job opportunities in this profession so that non-English speakers can have one individual who can really communicate their questions, concerns and opinions. I am proud to work in this profession and provide this important service to others.