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Ask Away: 5 Questions for a Rutgers Biology Major Learning Spanish


We’re asking students, teachers, and counselors five questions on how languages play a role in shaping personal and professional success…

Meet JT—a Biology Major and Economics/Chemistry Double Minor at Rutgers University – Camden  Aspiring to Become a Physician. 

1. What inspired you to begin learning Spanish—how and when did you get started?

I was inspired to begin learning Spanish after witnessing a plethora of patients in the hospital who only spoke Spanish. These patients required translators which delayed necessary care during critical moments. I was interested in bringing the gap so there would be no need to wait for translators.

 2. Have you participated in any internships or other immersion activities at Rutgers that have allowed you to use your Spanish skills?

I have participated in two learning abroad experiences in Cuba and Guatemala. These study abroad classes focused on providing health care to those who speak Spanish and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

I have also participated in an internship at Cooper University Hospital as an Academic Associate in the Emergency Department where I could speak to patients (some Spanish speaking) whose cases I was studying.

JT working with children abroad

 3. Have you got a favorite memory of a conversation or other moment you’ve had in Spanish? Why is it meaningful to you?

My favorite memory of a conversation I have had in Spanish would be assisting at the Kroc Center in Camden during their holiday assistance program.

I conducted interviews in Spanish to determine whether certain clients were eligible to receive food assistance. It was a great feeling to be able to communicate in their native language in a comfortable and relaxing setting. It was even better to think that I was helping them get the food they needed just in time for the holiday season.

4. Why is it important to learn another language, or to learn about another culture?

It is important to learn another language or culture because it opens up a possibility to reach so many more people in the world.

There are many Spanish speaking citizens throughout the world and I feel it is important to reach out to them in their native language to get a clearer and deeper understanding.

 5. What advice would you give to students who are considering learning a language, especially at the university level—any tips?

My advice to students who are considering learning a language at the university level would be to remain open and flexible, yet relentless.

Language is hard to learn and you have to use it to become fluid. Do not worry about your grades in these languages, rather go out and practice your language and the grades will come. However, don’t give up.

It requires a great amount of time to learn a language, but if you keep after it, it will come.

 BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite word in Spanish and why? (What does it mean?)

Por supuesto. Yes, of course because why not. Take every opportunity you get, because you never know where it will lead you to.

What’s next for JT?

“One day I hope to become a physician where I can use my Spanish skills with the patients that I treat. Hopefully, I can eliminate the need of an additional translator and provide quick and effective care based on the direct words of the patient.”

Check out the Lead with Spanish page for resources on college programs, scholarship opportunities, student testimonials, and more.  Also explore language careers in health care and learn more about the value of language skills in closing the gap on access to quality medical care for those in the U.S. who speak languages other than English.

And, as always, don’t forget to share your language learning story @LeadWLanguages on social media!