Jessica Sanchez Wins 2017–2018 ATA School Outreach Contest

Jessica Sanchez presented to rotating classes of students from multiple grade levels during career day at Harrison Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky.

Jessica Sanchez presented to rotating classes of students from multiple grade levels during career day at Harrison Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky.

Jessica Sanchez, a Spanish interpreter and interpreter coordinator for the Fayette County Public School District in Kentucky, won a free registration to ATA’s 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans (October 24–27, 2018) through ATA’s School Outreach Contest.

Jessica won the contest with a photo taken during her career day presentation at Harrison Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky, where she presented to rotating classes of students from multiple grade levels.

She began her presentation by greeting students in Spanish and sharing a fun fact with them. The students were surprised to hear that, at their school alone, their peers spoke over 12 languages at home.

Throughout her presentation, Jessica repeated the difference between an interpreter and a translator a number of times. “The best part for me was that the teachers and staff that were present also learned the difference,” she says. “A couple of them even jotted it down and told me they thought there was no difference.”

The best part for the children was when they got to test out the interpreting headset equipment. A staff member read a short story to them in English while the children wore the headsets. “I stepped outside or to a far corner and would interpret the story into Spanish,” Jessica explains. “Seeing the countless smiles on their faces and how they covered their mouths in disbelief when they saw/heard me in action was amazing!”

What is ATA’s School Outreach?

For more than 12 years, ATA’s School Outreach Program has been raising awareness of the role that translators and interpreters play in business, government, and society at large. With several sources predicting major growth in the demand for professional translators and interpreters, this program continues to build awareness of careers in the language industry. As our world becomes more integrated globally, businesses and governments are realizing the importance of using skilled professional translators or interpreters to communicate their message effectively and successfully to global audiences, avoiding potentially costly and embarrassing mistakes.

ATA launched the School Outreach Program in 2004 to educate students about translation and interpreting and to interest them in these rewarding career fields. Through the program, professional linguists speak to students at all levels, highlighting the career benefits of learning another language and the increasing potential for exciting work with language skills. Using a variety of model presentations and activities available on ATA’s website, presenters outline the requirements for becoming a professional translator or interpreter, emphasizing that these careers demand far more than simply being bilingual.

“By visiting classrooms through the School Outreach Program, translators and interpreters share valuable information not only with the next generation of linguists, but also the next generation of language services clients,” says Meghan Konkol, coordinator of the School Outreach Program. “Our program focuses on educating the public about these exciting career paths and their wide range of applications around the world.”

To receive this award, participants must belong to ATA, an ATA chapter, or an ATA-affiliated organization and must deliver a presentation at a school of their choice. Entrants must also submit photos of themselves presenting in the classroom. To learn more about ATA’s School Outreach Program, visit

Win a Free Registration to ATA60—2018–2019 School Outreach Contest Now Open!

The 2018–2019 School Outreach Contest is now open! The winner will receive a free registration to ATA’s 60th Annual Conference in Palm Springs, California, October 23–26, 2019. For more information, visit

Molly Yurick is a Spanish>English translator specializing in the tourism, hospitality, and airline industries. She has worked as a cultural ambassador for the Ministry of Education in Spain and as a medical interpreter in Minnesota. She has a BA in Spanish and global studies and a certificate in medical interpreting from the University of Minnesota. She currently lives in northern Spain. Contact:

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