Found in Translation

Elisa R
Elisa Riviero-Vazquez, a native of Venezuela, ia all smiles after being awarded the Network of Translators in Education's Merit Scholarship. / Photo: Owen Egan

By Pascal Zamprelli

“I’ve always loved languages, my whole life,” said Elisa Riveiro-Vazquez, a graduate student in translation at McGill’s Centre for Continuing Education, where she also completed her Certificate in Translation. Recently, that love paid off handsomely when she became the first McGill student to receive the Network of Translators in Education’s Merit Scholarship.

In her native Venezuela, Riveiro-Vazquez worked for years as an engineer and also earned an MBA. When she and her family decided to relocate to Montreal, though, engineering was not really in the cards. “It would have been very difficult,” she said, referring to the byzantine process of trying to get foreign professional certification recognized here.

“The first thing I did here was learn French,” she said, which rekindled her passion for languages. Though she didn’t know it right away, it would lead to her next vocation. Wanting to continue her studies, she began thinking about McGill’s translation program. “I could see that there was a real opportunity,” she said. “A way to continue, and I love to study anyway.”

Riveiro-Vazquez says the experience was fascinating, noting the quality and creativity of her professors, and the interesting projects on which she worked, including a translation of the City of Montreal’s Charter of Citizen Rights and Responsibilities into Spanish, at Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s request. “It was something real,” she said, “and good for the community. I just loved it.”

As she now begins her Graduate Diploma, Riveiro-Vazquez is pleased with the choices she’s made. She plans to find work as a translator following this degree, and is “definitely here to stay.” She will formally receive her prize at a ceremony on Sept. 29, at the Faculty Club. “I hope not,” she said with a laugh when asked if she’ll have to give a speech. That’s too bad – it could be trilingual.