Maria Petit Arias is a second year psychology major here at Goshen College, but across the street she works at Goshen Hospital and around the city at various Goshen Health affiliated locations interpreting for healthcare workers and patients.“I help Spanish-speakers at their medical appointments, ranging from something simple as bloodwork to something threatening such as chemotherapy treatments. You could say that the only thing I do at work is talk, but it really is more than that,” said Petit Arias.
The job comes with celebrations and struggles alike.
“In order to perform this duty to its full potential,” she said, “you must be able not only to speak two languages, but also to be patient, [to be] understanding, and to listen.”
Interpreting in healthcare is a job that Petit Arias has held for eight months, but is something that she has dreamed of since her arrival in the United States in 2016.
“To my culture, this is a dream job and not many people are able to obtain it … I see this job as an undeserved gift from the Lord, and I am honored to be a Goshen Health colleague,” Petit Arias said.
Though she felt very uncertain about interpreting at first, Petit Arias has been able to face the challenges involved. “I realized that this job was for me when I went into my first appointment on my own,” she said.
“I was no longer being tested for my interpreting skills [and saw] how the interpreting came out so naturally, indicating [to] me that this is exactly what I needed while I was studying at Goshen College … It gives me flexibility so I can study as much as I need.”
Petit Arias also commented that she has been able to learn a variety of information in both Spanish and English through practicing both languages.
Though Petit Arias is still working with Goshen Health, she is keeping her studies at GC a priority.
“Working and studying is not easy, but not impossible. I believe that, as it’s said in Spanish, ‘el que quiere, puede,’” meaning roughly that if you want it enough, you can do it.
Balancing both school and work is something that Petit Arias has been able to achieve.
“You have to say no to many things that may seem fun in order to accomplish things that don’t seem fun,” she said.
“You will have sleepless nights and caffeinated mornings, but it is possible to do both.”
Even with everything already on Petit Arias’ plate, she has her mind on the future.
“When I graduate from GC,” she said, “I would like to attend graduate school and obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology, and eventually offer free therapy to people who need it, especially to Hispanic people.”
Petit Arias believes that there is more to psychology than simply what people think, saying that research, people, personalities, cultures and science play enormous roles in the field.
“My position at Goshen Health has helped me determine what I really want to do in the future, and that is to provide a listening ear, a loving heart, and a helping hand to the neediest.”