UTEP Introduces New Certificate Programs for Students, Community

Maria Fernanda Ramos lives in two linguistic worlds – English and Spanish – and she is part of a new program at The University of Texas at El Paso that she believes will help her in both of them.

Ramos, a junior languages and linguistics major with a translation minor, is a native of Juárez, Mexico, who has attended El Paso schools since the fifth grade. She registered for the Bilingual Professional Writing Certificate (BPWC) program to enhance her Spanish language skills, which have deteriorated over time. Organizers designed the BPWC for people who want to embrace their bilingualism, enrich their education and strengthen their professional writing skills. It is among several new academic certificates UTEP will offer in fall 2018 through the colleges of Education, Liberal Arts and Business Administration.

The BPWC is a 12-credit option of online and face-to-face required and elective courses in translation and rhetoric and writing that is open to graduate and undergraduate students. A fully online version, offered in conjunction with UTEP’s Extended University, will be ready for the fall 2019 semester.

Ramos said she has worked professionally for a year to transcribe and translate English-Spanish information for insurance companies and chemical factories, among others. The 2015 Coronado High School graduate said the true sign of a professional translator is to make the information sound so natural that the listener or reader does not know which language was the original.

“It didn’t take a lot of convincing to get me interested in the certificate,” Ramos said. “I’m really excited because I like the courses. It’s a chance to achieve something else.”

The program is a relaunch of a similar effort UTEP started in 2000 but discontinued a few years later due to changes in leadership and structure. Isabel Baca, Ph.D., associate professor of English and the program’s principal investigator, spearheaded the effort using a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She developed the curriculum with faculty from the departments of English and Languages and Linguistics, more specifically from their translation and rhetoric and writing studies programs, and nonprofit agencies that would benefit from competent workplace writers and transcribers.

Baca has promoted this new program through posters, social media, word of mouth and a workshop for her program’s community writing partners. Among the interested parties is Ceci Herrera, director of the Central El Paso Community Organization (CEPCO), 1010 E. Yandell Dr. A social worker and counselor for more than 20 years, Herrera earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from UTEP in 1996.

CEPCO serves a community of more than 21,000 people; about 80 percent are predominantly Spanish speakers. Herrera said she needs bilingual materials to better promote the center’s activities that include academic classes and presentations by assistive agencies. She said she contacts Baca for student volunteers to help write or translate necessary texts. The director said the new certificate plan would create a larger pool of competent volunteers.

“This represents an understanding of the needs of this community,” Herrera said. “It’s a sign of respect for the community, its culture and its identity.”

Baca said the program is important because most of the world has become a multilingual, multicultural community where the workplace demands individuals with the ability to understand and translate different languages.

“Those who demonstrate the ability to write effectively, ethically and dynamically will be the top candidates for employment in the U.S. and around the world,” she said. “Many of our UTEP students can read, speak and write in English and Spanish. That edge will help them in the workplace.”

The following are other certificates the University will launch during the fall 2018 semester.

The College of Education, working with Extended University, has created the state’s first graduate-level online certificate program that trains early intervention special education teachers and related services personnel who serve children with developmental delays from birth to age 8 and their families. The curriculum promotes critical thinking, cultural sensitivity and awareness of issues in the field through project-based learning activities.

The program’s target audience is students completing their undergraduate degrees or those pursuing their master’s degree in related fields. Students should be able to achieve this certificate in 12 months. The acquired units can go toward the individual’s graduate degree. This certificate will help recipients to assist the growing numbers of youngsters who need early interventions in community and classroom-based settings.

Professor Patricia Ainsa, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Beverley Argus-Calvo, Ph.D., from the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Services, developed and executed the program with Beth Brunk-Chavez, Ph.D., dean of UTEP’s Extended University. Ainsa and Argus-Calvo collaborated with the Texas Office of Health and Human Services Early Childhood Intervention Services.

The College of Business Administration will offer a healthcare management certificate program to undergraduate business and nonbusiness students interested in improving the business side of healthcare.

Rigoberto Delgado, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, designed the 12-credit-hour certificate that involves finance, patient safety, healthcare operations, healthcare economics, quality control and revenue management. An intensive, onsite practicum at a partnering clinic or hospital, or with a health insurance provider or public health organization, also is part of the program. The course-practicum combination provides students with theoretical and hands-on experiences to understand the entire healthcare process.

Delgado said management professionals play a critical role in efforts to control costs, improve patient experience, and enhance population health. He emphasized that academy graduates will understand the risks and challenges of managing the care of patients after they leave the hospital, and of effective solutions to health isssues.

He added that the industry continues to grow and that UTEP graduates who earn this new certificate will have a competitive edge in the field because of their knowledge, and because many are bilingual and bicultural.

In addition to the new certificate, the college also launched a graduate certificate in healthcare management, an MBA healthcare management concentration, and a healthcare management certificate option for those who already earned their MBA.

Author: Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications