August 30, 2021

MS in Translation & Interpreting Alum Spotlight: Moriah Jennings

What was your history with and journey to translation?

My journey with Spanish started in the third grade. It was part of the curriculum for elementary school, but from middle school on, students were able to choose which language to take; I always chose Spanish without a second thought. Once college came around, I pursued it as a minor, simply because I loved the language, and I wanted to be fluent. Ironically, I did not have any career goals. On my long list of life aspirations, becoming a translator was nowhere in sight, and if not for a particular conversation at work one day, I may never have taken that path. A coworker and I got to talking [in Spanish] about our lives, our goals, and what was next for us. To give a little bit of background, it was 2019, and the last time I’d taken a Spanish class was in 2015. In those four years, I rarely practiced; needless to say, my verbal skills were rusty. I'd also been feeling stagnant in my career, and in my general life state. As we spoke, my colleague gave me encouragement by continually assuring me that I was young—there were about 20 years between us—and that I had time to figure out my plans. Afterward, I felt a shift inside. I was uplifted by her words and from the pure joy of speaking Spanish again. I said to myself, “Dang, I really miss Spanish!” That same day, I went home and started researching language career paths. I sort of stumbled across translation when I read that most linguists in the United Nations had translation degrees. Hm translation? What is that? I thought. Soon enough, I found out what the degree entailed, and where I could go get one. 

How did you decide to attend NYU for the MS in Translation and Interpreting (MSTI)?

I took some time to read through the program description and the courses offered. I believe I attended an online information session, as well. When I was seriously considering, I called the MSTI academic director to break everything down for me. I remember talking to her on my lunch break, taken aback by how patient and kind she was. She clarified every detail, answered all of my questions, and graciously gave me her time. Having such a positive interaction assured me I'd be in good hands. More than that, all of the information sounded exciting! I couldn't wait to start learning something new.

What is your current position? How did you acquire that job?

By the grace of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I am working at an orthopedic medical device company as a Terminology and Translation Analyst. I found out about this position from one of my professors in the MSTI program. She let us [her students] know that if we had taken her class, we would be qualified—so I just went for it. I was contacted the day after I applied, and hired right after my second interview. For a long time, it seemed like I kept hitting dead ends; then, suddenly, a door opened. I am so grateful to God for opening this door of opportunity through my education at NYU, my professor, and the company that hired me.

What is your favorite thing about translating/interpreting?

What I love most about translating is that it encourages me to improve on my writing—another passion of mine. As I developed as a translator, I developed as a writer. When I am translating a Spanish text, I can use creativity to make it understandable in English. It is not as black and white as one might think. Translators make stylistic choices that go beyond knowing an additional language. The editing and revision process gets tedious, as well. Though this creativity is used in all subject areas, I enjoy using it most in literary translation projects. I was reminded of how much writing meant to me when I began this translation journey, and now that I am aware, I want to make sure I keep up with it.

Do you have advice for other translators or people interested in the MSTI program?

There are so many avenues a translator can take—I had no idea. My Independent Study was in medical translation, yet my Thesis Project was in literary translation. Now, I’m doing terminology work, and only God knows what’s next. I have always had a lot of passions, and I never believed I needed to choose just one. My advice is: If you have the passion, you are capable of pursuing anything you wish. If you love it, do it. There is no need to feel limited or stuck. You can do it. Most importantly, look to God to lead you. As I mentioned before, I did not plan on becoming a translator; nonetheless, by a seemingly random conversation and an email from a professor, I am where I am now. But God was guiding my steps all along.

A translation and interpreting degree can help you to take charge of your career, whether you are new to the field or already working in the language professions. Apply for CALA’s newly renamed MS in Translation & Interpreting, a fully online, 36-credit graduate program.

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