Joel Colon


Where is your hometown?
I am a military brat. I moved around a lot and lived in different countries. I’m originally from Puerto Rico.

What is your membership category/certifications?
I am a student member of RID. I had been in an interpreter training program in Maryland for the past three years. I started the Bachelor’s of Interpreting Program at Gallaudet University this past fall!

How long have you been a member of RID?
I’m a new member! Five month! (as of August 2010)

How did you become interested in the field of interpreting?
I was in college for social work and dropped out. After a few years, I wanted to go back to college, but social work was no longer my focus. A good friend and interpreter, Justine Garrett, encouraged me to learn ASL. She introduced me to the Deaf community, and I fell in love with the culture. It has become my passion ever since.

What is the most rewarding part of the profession?
How open and inviting Deaf culture is. The Deaf community is very open and social, and I’ve grown to feel comfortable socializing in this type of environment. There is also a lot of trust that gets put on interpreters to communicate messages accurately. It makes me feel very privileged to one day have that trust.

What is the most frustrating part of the profession?
The general public doesn’t understand how much skill and education goes into interpreting. I tell people I’m in school for this, and they think it’s so sweet that I want to help people and how fun and easy it must be. After a few years of school, I realized there is a lot of hard work that goes into this field, and it takes a lot of discipline to develop these skills. It is definitely not a “piece of cake” like ignorant people describe.

Describe your most memorable moment.
It was when I was in school and my professor and local interpreter, Kelly Stein, taught our class how important it was, as interpreters, to keep up with education and current events. She showed us how important it was to watch the news and to constantly keep ourselves learning, which helps us interpret more easily. This was a big concept for me to understand. I didn’t realize that what I did, or rather didn’t pay attention to in the news could hinder my ability to work. It was then that I started to focus on current events. Before learning this, I always kept myself hidden from investigating what was going on around me. Now, I take every moment I can to read about current events.

What advice do you have for new graduates entering the field?
This is hard to answer since I am still a student. The advice I would give to other students is to get involved in the field as much as possible. I have learned so much from other people, both deaf and interpreters, who have taught me a lot. I will always admire this part of the field.

Who is the interpreter(s) you admire most?
There are many interpreters whom I have met that I admire. The interpreters I admire the most are Justine Garrett, Sandy Brown and Joe Lucas. These three interpreters are especially closest to my heart because of the time and energy they have taken to teach and encourage me during the tough times of learning a new language. Without these people, I know for certain I wouldn’t be where I am today.