May 2019 Member Spotlight

Colleen Jones, NIC
Washington State
Region V

     

Why do you have a passion for interpreting?

I originally pursued interpreting because I loved the language. I still do, but the longer I am in the field the more I am motivated by my connections with my community.

Where does your passion lie? Is it in being a bridge between hearing and Deaf constituents? Is it in your love for the Deaf community? Is it in interpreting itself? Is it in the “Aha” moment when those you interpret for reach the intended level of understanding made possible through your interpretation?

Much of my work is within Seattle’s thriving DeafBlind community. I am thankful every day that I get to work with brilliant consumers and witness the development of a new language: Protactile ASL (PTASL). I thrive on the challenge of developing my third language and working to communicate through touch. DeafBlind interpreting involves a lot of team interpreting, and I feel very lucky to work with high caliber Deaf and hearing interpreters who are 100% supportive of one another both personally and professionally. Through graduate school at Western Oregon University I have also developed a passion for research, writing, and presenting to colleagues. I have now published several papers and have taught workshops about gender bias and consumer orientation, which is how consumers are educated about working with interpreters. I am enjoying the process more than I ever thought possible.

Is there a golden rule to longevity in this profession?

Balance is so important. Balance work time with personal time. Balance the physicality of interpreting with exercise and body care. Balance challenging jobs with work that makes you feel confident. Balance jobs in windowless rooms with time outdoors. I think it is also super important to find a healthy and confidential way to process the challenges of the work. During graduate school I was introduced to supervision for interpreters, and I think that it is incredibly valuable. I am also fortunate to work in settings where I can discuss the work with colleagues, supervisors, and consumers as appropriate, which makes me feel supported as a person and helps me grow as an interpreter.

What was your first official interpreting experience?

I don’t remember!

When did you know, “This is for me!”?

I entered my interpreter training program at the age of 26, having already completed a bachelor’s degree and having been in the workforce for many years. I immediately knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, which gave me focus and motivation. That drive is what led me to graduate school, research, and presenting.

How did you learn of interpreting as a profession?

I grew up in a small, rural town in Northern California. We had one Deaf student in our school and he was in my class, so I grew up watching his interpreters.

How has interpreting provided opportunities for you?

Interpreting has given me community. My consumers and colleagues are my neighbors and friends. I have learned so much from them about self-reflection, balance, language, boundaries, community responsibility, and how we can support and care for those around us.

How would you describe your training experience?

I first took ASL in high school. I didn’t use it much as I pursued my bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a career in special education, but when I started considering a career change, interpreting was the first thing that came to mind. I went back to school for an associate’s degree in interpreting at Seattle Central Community College. After working as an interpreter for about six years I went back to school again, and in 2017 I completed my master’s degree in Interpreting Studies from Western Oregon University.

What words of encouragement do you have for a person like yourself, who is interested in becoming an interpreter?

Build a support system and practice self-reflection. Interpreting is not just a job that you walk away from at 5:00. Who you are as a person constantly influences and is influenced by your work as an interpreter. I believe that one of the main reasons I can say I love my job and am not burnt out after almost ten years in the field is that I have support from colleagues, consumers, and my partner. I have access to structured review of my interpreting decisions through supervision and a way to process my responses and patterns through personal therapy, both of which make a world of difference when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Colleen Jones is a nationally certified interpreter, presenter, and researcher from Seattle, Washington. She holds undergraduate degrees from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Seattle Central Community College, and a master’s degree from Western Oregon University. Colleen’s interpreting work is focused on medical, business, and DeafBlind settings, and she has published research on the topics of gender bias and consumer orientation. Her latest research paper can be found in the 2019 edition of the Journal of Interpretation.

Member Bio:

Colleen Jones is a nationally certified interpreter, presenter, and researcher from Seattle, Washington.  She holds undergraduate degrees from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Seattle Central Community College, and a master’s degree from Western Oregon University.  Colleen’s interpreting work is focused on medical, business, and DeafBlind settings, and she has published research on the topics of gender bias and consumer orientation. Her latest research paper can be found in the 2019 edition of the Journal of Interpretation.

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