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Program aimed at prospective, experienced interpreters

Thanks to a new certificate and degree program in translating and interpreting, bilingual Rochester residents can put their language skills to work.

Students will learn and practice translation skills and the ethics of translating for a non-English speaker.

The new program is a collaboration among Rochester Community and Technical College, Riverland Community College in Austin and Century College in the Twin Cities.

Century developed the program and wanted to reach as many people as possible, so it contacted RCTC and Riverland, said Barb Mollberg, a dean at RCTC.

"It didn't take us long to decide that we did want to participate," Mollberg said. "This was just a great opportunity for us."


With a certificate or degree, an interpreter could get a job in business, education, the court system, social services and other fields, Mollberg said.

"As our community diversifies I think we'll see an even greater need for this," she said. 

Students will earn the certificate or degree from Century, but they can attend classes in Rochester or Austin. The classes are taught via interactive TV, Mollberg said; students can see and interact with the teacher and other students at the other schools.

Because many of the prospective students have full-time jobs, classes will be offered in the evenings and on Saturdays, Mollberg said.

Mollberg said the program reaches out to two groups of students: People who want to get into translating and people who have been working as interpreters and want a degree to go with their experience.

Lorena Sandoval has been a Spanish interpreter at Mayo Clinic for 21 years, but she's thinking about taking classes to have a certificate on her resume.

"Not only is it important to have experience, it's important to be recognized and have the certificate behind you," she said.

Zahra Elsayed, who speaks Arabic, is looking at the program to help her break into the field.


"I have some education here and there, but it didn't help me get a job (in interpreting)," she said. "I want to be a professional."

RCTC started working with Century on the program about a month ago, and classes are set to start Aug. 23. Based on student interest so far, Mollberg said, she expects the program's first year will be a success.

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