Elmer MorenoSpanish and translation & interpretation major
Long Beach, California
Elmer is involved in HPNW (Hispanic People of Northwestern), a student club that serves to establish a bond between Hispanic students and the Northwestern community, to promote educational opportunities, and to increase awareness of Hispanic culture. Following graduation he plans to move back home to California and take the state test to be certified for court or hospital interpretation. He’s also interested in eventually interpreting for the United Nations or the federal government and wants to learn and interpret other languages as well—such as Portuguese, Italian, Hebrew or Russian.
Both of my parents speak Spanish. My dad knows how to speak English, and my mother understands and speaks a little English. When I was younger and we would go to places like a doctor’s office, my sisters and I would interpret for our parents. I think my desire to facilitate communication between people who speak different languages stems from that.
Jack of all trades
What fascinates me the most is that in translation & interpretation you learn a bit of everything. You learn medical terms, business terms and even legal terms, because you never know what you are going to have to interpret or translate. That’s what keeps the major fun: You’re always on your toes because you never know what is next.
One of my high school teachers recommended Northwestern. After I applied, I started to research the school, and I liked what I read about the community aspect and small-town environment, which is a huge change from a big city. I went to a small, private Christian high school, so the idea of having a good teacher-to-student ratio was key to me choosing Northwestern.
As a city kid from the West Coast, I thought the Midwest was just a bunch of grasslands with people listening to country music, driving tractors and living on farms. Coming to Northwestern and living in the Midwest has given me a deeper appreciation for the people here—and I can actually say I love it!
My professors take an interest in me. They care about me and want me to be working to the best of my abilities. Some are native speakers of Spanish, others learned it when they were older, and some grew up speaking multiple languages. In Spanish there’s a wide array of dialects and accents. My language professors understand they have to teach students that one word could mean something completely different to a native speaker in another country. That’s vital to learning a language.