News and analysis
January 05, 2016

Maria Vertkin: Careers Found in Translation

M. Scott Brauer for The Chronicle

Maria Vertkin, 29
Founder and Executive Director, Found in Translation
Boston

Maria Vertkin moved from her native Russia to Israel as a child and then to the United States as a teenager. She drew on her own experience as an immigrant to start Found in Translation, a nonprofit that trains low-income, bilingual women to become medical interpreters, helping patients who don’t speak English communicate with doctors.

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It’s one of the fastest-growing careers in the country, with jobs that pay $20 to $40 an hour. But Found in Translations doesn’t just help women climb out of poverty.

Ms. Vertkin says many clients used to be ashamed of being bilingual. They were embarrassed by their accents, or their parents encouraged them to speak only English. The group turns that perceived liability into an asset.

"Suddenly it’s cool to speak your home language really well," she says. "We have women who leave the program with a new pride in their heritage, with a new connection to their roots."

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