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Graduate Finds Rewarding Career in Spanish Translation and Interpreting

Lourdes Pumarejoa De La TourBROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUGUST 16, 2012 – A native of Tampico, Mexico, Lourdes Pumarejo De La Tour helped finance her studies working as a teaching assistant and by receiving the Peggy Huie Endowment Scholarship.

Established in 2003 by Dr. George K. Green, a Professor in the Department of Modern Languages, the endowment is in memory of his mother who had been a high school French teacher. It is earmarked for students of Spanish, English and translation studies.

“My first class here was with Dr. Green, and right away I found him to be an excellent and fascinating teacher,” Pumarejo said. “In time, I was in several of his classes, learning more each semester. I admire and respect Dr. Green and Dr. Jose Davila-Montes [Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Translation and Interpreting Program]. Receiving the scholarship was not only a financial boost, but it was an honor to be selected.”

Pumarejo received her Master of Arts in Spanish Translation and Interpreting in December 2011 from The University of Texas at Brownsville.

The UTB program is the only 100 percent online translation and interpreting master’s degree in the United States. An international faculty includes professors in Spain, Ireland and New York as well as those on campus in Brownsville.

“Most people would never imagine what a great need there is for interpreters and translators,” Pumarejo said. “There is a tremendous demand for such skill that it would be possible to work around the clock every day.”

Pumarejo is employed by Certified Languages International and CTS Language Link, agencies that contract with clients such as hospitals, insurance companies, hotels and airlines. She performs consecutive interpretation from her home office, with all of her jobs done over the phone on a landline with a headset. For privacy purposes, no information about an assignment can be input on a computer. She takes notes by hand and shreds them right away.

“Even though I don’t meet the clients face-to-face with the telephone work, I still find a connection with many of those on the other end of the line,” she said. “The best part of the work is to know I am performing a necessary service and realizing how thankful most people are.”

Last October, Pumarejo left her home office in Brownsville to spend three weeks in Guadalajara, Mexico, working at the Pan American Games, where the official languages are Spanish and English. She said it was a privilege to interpret for Jacques Rogue, President of the International Olympic Committee, and Ian Troop, President of the organizing committee of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.

“In the mornings, we would meet in the press room, where presentations were made,” she said. “Afterward, we would take the observers on site visits – swimming pool, tennis courts, gymnasium, the athletes’ villas and the kitchens – to see how everything was designed and being managed.”

Pumarejo also was on duty during the daily 2:30 p.m. press conference, translating questions and announcements. As exciting as the work was, it was also exhausting. A quick bite of dinner and a good night’s sleep were all she wanted at the end of the day.

“I would like to be selected to work at the games again in Toronto in 2015,” Pumarejo said. “And I hope that one day I can interpret at the Olympic Games, but my goal is to work for the United Nations.”

For more information on the programs offered in translation and interpreting, including the online master’s degree in Spanish translation and interpreting, visit the program website or contact the program office at 956-882-7414.

For more information about creating a scholarship endowment or other ways to help students, contact Laurie Howell, University Relations Executive Director, at laurie.howell@utb.edu or 956-882-4334. More information on giving opportunities can be found on the university website or email giving@utb.edu.

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