Otterbein Psychology Senior is Prepared to Use Spanish Skills in Her New Job

Posted Apr 21, 2022

By Riley Hysell ’22     

Otterbein senior April Martinez discovered how her psychology major and Spanish skills could complement one another both through classes and work in the field as a life coach. One specific class that aided Martinez in this discovery is Spanish in the Professions taught by Assistant Professor of Spanish Kristina Escondo.

April Martinez
April Martinez

Spanish in the Professions aims to highlight the power of using Spanish skills in professional environments. While the class is for students who have taken at least up to the level of Spanish 2000 at Otterbein, Escondo still finds that the course is shaped, in part, by the variety of majors and skill levels of its students.

“I’ve got people across the spectrum of majors in the class. This semester, I have students majoring in education, psychology, communication, pre-law, business, and a lot of STEM subjects like chemistry, biology, and biochemistry and molecular biology,” Escondo said.

“The class is for anyone who is interested in figuring out how to highlight their language skills in any profession or any workplace.You don’t have to be a perfectly fluent speaker to get somebody the help that they need or the services or products that they want,” she added.

For Martinez, making the connection between her professional work and Spanish was as natural as Escondo makes it out to be. Because of her language skills, in her work as a life coach she was frequently given clients who spoke Spanish or had family members who spoke Spanish.

“I’ve been able to work with kids who speak English and Spanish but whose parents only speak Spanish. When working with a life coach, the parents didn’t understand what was going on, so I’m able to communicate more,” Martinez said, “And that’s so important because it usually is a larger family problem and not just the kid.”

In her position, Martinez helps people work through a variety of personal and family issues, things like stress, anxiety, and other challenges. Many of her clients are children who come in with their parents.

Dr. Kristina Escondo
Kristina Escondo

Both Escondo and Martinez stress the idea that putting Spanish knowledge into practice can make work more accessible. Martinez hopes that in her field, it can also combat stigma and educate. Her distinction thesis focused on destigmatizing mental health in the Latinx community through memes, an interdisciplinary concept that shows off how powerful language can be.

Martinez explained, “If you don’t know what mental health is, then you don’t know that mental health needs help sometimes. It’s not that people don’t want help. They just genuinely don’t even know what mental health is.”

Martinez has been accepted into The Ohio State University College of Social Work, where she will progress in her field. She will bring with her an understanding of how language skills can imbue any professional space with an impressive openness and approachability.

“Both language and this particular class (Spanish in the Professions) are all about promoting connections and removing barriers,” Escondo observed, “You don’t have to be a major; you don’t even have to be a minor. You just have to be interested in giving access.”