Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Student Spotlight: Kimberly Soto

Picture of Kimberly Soto
by Ann Abbott

Kimberly Soto was a student in my SPAN 332 "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course last semester and did her community service learning (CSL) work at Child Care Resource Center with Milagros Jerrell. Now she is taking SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community" with Liz Moreno and works with Alejandra Coronel at Presence Covenant Health Center. Students usually take these courses in the reverse order, but for Kimberly, a strong Spanish speaker with an equally strong work ethic and sense of solidarity with the Latino community, the order of the courses didn't matter at all. What matter was that she always stood out for her intelligence, dedication and specific examples of what she was seeing and observing during her community service learning work.

So it was no surprise to me to hear that she is interested in a pursuing a Masters in Social Work. In fact, I have had several students in recent years who have gone on to MSW programs, either her at UIUC or UI Chicago. Bilingual social worker do very important work. (See my colleague Lissette Piedra's publications for more information about that topic.)

Kimberly shared her reflections about her Spanish CSL experiences and its connections with her plans to study social work. She gave me permission to share her thoughts, and I hope that all my current students of Spanish will also see how studying Spanish can lead to continued professional service to the Latino community.
Kimberly's words:

In my CSL I gained quite an experience. Last semester, Milagros was working on a new project, "Abriendo Caminos". We were creating the sustainability and programs that would run Abriendo Caminos [and I noticed the importance of]: 
  • Effective translation - there were many slides that needed translations, but consistency within the PowerPoint was key to bringing a successful workshop. I was part of a team of translators, but I realized the inconsistency of our language use was becoming a problem. I brought this to Milagros and she realized it was an issue. Luckily, we had a professor that would go through edits and highlight the inconsistency! 
  • Learning about the community - We can create a program and share it with the community, but it will not be effective if the families in the community do not involve themselves with the project. Milagros had interviews with the families and reported back to the team. We learned about family needs and what not to include as part of our project. 
  • Awareness - With Alejandra Coronel, I am becoming familiar with the resources available in the community. With the knowledge I am collecting, I can easily identify resources for individuals that do not know about the things that surround them. 
  • Terms - Little by little I am learning about medical terms in Spanish and English. It is important to understand the terms being used, especially when translating documents or speaking with an individual. 

[A Masters in social work would] reflect back on the work I did for Child Care Resource Services and what I am currently doing with Presence Covenant Center. In CCRS, I worked with Social Workers and understood how to work with clients to meet their needs. In social work, more specifically social work on a macro level, it is important to understand the community for program development. In Presence Covenant Center, I am exposed to community resources that can be communicated to the rest of the community. In the health care setting of social work, it is highly encouragd that e we learn about different resources available to the community, for this is a great way to connect clients with resources. There's training for SW to continue learning about new methods, resources and new community issues. Plus, in the health care setting of social work one must learn the language of terms to better serve the client. If I do not understand a certain sickness, I will not be able to understand the doctors, nurses or my client. My work with the patient will not be effective. Luckily, I am learning valuable skills that will help me in my future profession. 

Overall, this comes back to the passion of empowering vulnerable individuals, 
families and groups. In my CSL, I believe I have done well for the community by [helping] individuals find their resources based on needs. 

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