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Melissa Wallace

October 22, 2014//

Meet Melissa Wallace. The Texas Supreme Court recently chose her to serve on a state advisory board responsible for facilitating equal language access in the courtroom for people who speak limited English.

...whether you are in the realm of justice or health care, you are present with people [when] important decisions are being made about their lives.

– Melissa Wallace

The assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures will sit on the newly created Licensed Court Interpreter Advisory Board of the Judicial Branch Certification Commission.

A Wisconsin native, Wallace served in a similar capacity when the state's chief justice appointed her to fill a vacancy. For the last 10 years, Wallace has been providing oral interpreting services for people who speak limited English in the courtroom as well as in medical and social services settings.

According to Wallace, the Department of Justice is insisting that more states find ways that allow for people who speak limited English to have equal access in the courtroom.

"Texas created this advisory committee because they want legislators to be in a position to make conscientious and knowledgeable decisions about language access in its courts," said Wallace.

Wallace was introduced to the profession when she was working as a freelance translator in the advertising sector in Spain while doing her doctorate in translation in interpreting. She enjoyed the field so much, when we she returned to the U.S., she combined full-time teaching with as much court interpreting work as she could.

"I think it is such an important profession because whether you are in the realm of justice or health care, you are present with people in really intimate and critical moments where important decisions are being made about their lives," said Wallace.

Wallace came to UTSA to direct the Graduate Certificate in Spanish Translation and Interpreting Studies program. Currently 16 students are enrolled in the program, the only one of its kind offered at a university in the region. In the spring, UTSA will offer a new graduate seminar on legal translation and interpreting.

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