February 28, 2020

When Mary Pirela enrolled in Century College’s Translation and Interpreting program, she was already working as an interpreter in her local school district; however, she wanted to continue her professional training and education.

Honing Skills for the Workplace

Originally from Venezuela, where she worked as a systems engineer in the technology sector, Mary came to the United States 21 years ago.  As a stay at home mom, she was active in her kids’ school district and her community.  When her youngest child was in Kindergarten, she decided to go back to work, and volunteered as an interpreter for her school district.

Eventually, a professional Translation and Interpreting position opened up, which she applied for and landed.   Mary wanted to excel in her new job, and after researching other programs, decided to earn a certificate in Translation and Interpreting from Century College.

“I liked the flexibility of taking classes at night or online at Century College–it was very helpful when my husband was out of town or one of the kids was sick, and I needed to be at home. And the professors are great,” Mary says.

Rigorous Training

“Being bilingual doesn’t automatically make you an interpreter or translator.  There’s much more to it—you have to be strong in your own language,” Mary notes.  “There’s a set of codes and ethics when you become an interpreter and that is one of the things you learn in the Century College Translation and Interpreting program.  You get guidelines about how to be an interpreter.” 

As part of her program, Mary completed an internship in the medical field, working in both Regions and Gillette Hospitals.  “It was a great experience, but I discovered that I prefer working in education, doing community translation,” Mary says. 

She works district wide (ISD197) in the Eagan, West St. Paul, and Mendota educational communities, where her main role involves interpreting and translating in special education. She loves her job, and especially enjoys working in the same school district that her children attend, as they have the same holidays and other days off.  Her work fits perfectly with her family life, and allows her to continue to be involved in her community and with school district events.

Mary’s goal is to eventually open her own translation and interpreting agency.  Meanwhile, she’ll continue improving her language skills, and excelling at her work and professional training. She’s in her final semester at Century and will graduate with her certificate in Translation and Interpreting in May.

“Century College’s Translation and Interpreting program has been a challenge and it’s rigorous, but it’s good.  Becoming a professionally trained interpreter involves huge responsibilities, and I can definitely recommend Century College.”


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