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Serving as a Spanish Medical Interpreter
Michigan's AmeriCorps member makes impact as Spanish medical interpreter
Yomara Alvarez Herrera admits feeling a bit hesitant at the beginning of her AmeriCorps service. Working at Cherry Health’s AmeriCorps Program, she served as both a Spanish medical interpreter and a Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) screening coordinator.
Having no prior experience as an interpreter, Herrera doubted her ability.
“It seemed like a very big responsibility, and it was,” said Herrera. “But, I understood it was not exactly about me; it was about my community and being one of those people who even while feeling scared, will find the resources and make it happen.”
As part of her service with Cherry Health, Herrera interprets limited English-proficient patients so that they may receive the best possible care. This entails communicating with care providers, understanding treatment plans and buildings relationship with patients’ doctors Herrera not only identifies potential obstacles that could be impacting their health and ways but assists in finding resources to overcome them. Additionally, Herrera has personally worked to develop an interpreting guide for future interpreters to feel more prepared for the role.
Herrera’s service year with Cherry Health is her second term serving with AmeriCorps, and she is preparing to start her third AmeriCorps term soon.
“Thinking about the different paths AmeriCorps offers me, serving another term was the perfect opportunity for me to keep growing my professional experience and career,” said Herrera.
Herrera’s first term was completed during her gap year between high school and college. During her second term, she started taking classes at Grand Rapids Community College to obtain her associate’s degree in psychology. After her third service term with AmeriCorps is complete, she hopes to continue her education by obtaining her bachelor’s degree in social work and master’s degree in counseling.
“Service has helped me understand how much we can achieve as a team and as a community,” said Herrera.
“We often complain of certain things that are uncomfortable, unfair, and ‘unachievable’ because that’s the way it has always been. But then, as you get together with other people like you–with the motivation and passion to create a better reality for everyone–then you find or build the resources and create a way to make a difference in the community.”