Martha Walter and Meridian Technology Center believe that language should not be a barrier to anyone working to further their goals.
In 2013, Meridian realized the benefits of providing translation services for students whose first language is Spanish.
“We started with one student, and we realized there were others who could benefit,” said Walter. This year she’s working with 12 students, four of whom will be graduating next month. Walter works closely with the English Language Learner teachers at Meridian’s partner high schools to help ensure students are successful.
She also stays in close contact with the students’ parents. With two children in their twenties, Walter is able to relate to parents raising teenagers and young adults. “I keep a really close relationship with the parents where they can text me and ask questions about how their children are doing. If Meridian’s instructors have any concerns, I’m the person they call to share their message,” she said.
Some of Walter’s main responsibilities include translating exams for students and assisting them with homework assignments.
“I try to give them the resources to teach themselves, things I didn’t have,” said Walter, who moved from Mexico to El Paso, Texas, when she was 14 years old and learned English at 18 years old. “It took me a while, and I wish I had somebody there to guide me and help me, because it was very intimidating.”
Walter works with students by having them read their assignments aloud in English. When they get to a word they don’t know, she guides them through the process of figuring out what it means. “My main goal is for them to learn English but also retain their Spanish,” she said.
By a student’s second year at Meridian, Walter works to help them become more independent in their classes. As they look to their next steps after Meridian, many turn to Walter for help with new challenges like the FAFSA application and talking about what they want to do after high school. If a student expresses interest in attending college, she takes them to visit Oklahoma State University or Northern Oklahoma College.
“Even after they’ve gone to work in their field, they still call me,” said Walter. “If they have questions about college, a job, a reference or anything — they keep in contact.” Many of her students have gone on to attend college and some are already working in industry.
All four graduating students are making plans to continue their education or go to work in their field of study. Two graduating from the Health Careers program are applying for jobs at local clinics and nursing homes. One graduating from the Biomedical Sciences – STEM Academy has applied to multiple colleges and has already been accepted at Oklahoma State University. One who will complete the Carpentry program after just one year is applying to Meridian’s Electrical Technology program for next year.
“When I see that they’re in college or they’re working and their language is not a barrier anymore, that is the most rewarding part,” said Walter.
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.
Meridian Technology Center does not discriminate in its programs, services, activities or employment because of race, color, sex, pregnancy, gender, gender expression or identity, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, age or genetic information.
If you or a Meridian student you know could benefit from the translation services offered at Meridian, contact a career counselor by phone at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509. Or to enroll visit www.meridiantech.edu.