Making sense of college funding: Mount Si grad helps WSU group translate financial aid site into Spanish

Mount Si graduate Carmen Krochel recently completed a large and much-requested project for Washington State University, to help even more people make sense of the school’s financial aid information. With a group of WSU staff and students, she helped create a full Spanish translation of the university’s financial aid website.

A WSU graduate student in the Spanish department, Krochel works at the financial aid office and said the office had been receiving more calls every year asking for help translating certain pages for Spanish-speaking students and parents.

“It happens at least a couple times a week, someone seeks assistance in Spanish,” she said.

Krochel said they often get calls from parents of students who need help understanding the process to get financial aid, because the students may not be able to properly explain what the page says in English to their parents.

Ramiro Mora, communications advisor for the financial aid office and project leader, said the Spanish-speaking population at WSU has been rising and this service was a necessary step to help the current and future student body. The project idea to translate the entire website was brought up once the English site was undergoing a redesign, he said. It was the perfect opportunity to make the change.

“Since we were launching a new website, we came up with the idea,” he said. “We started really going at it beginning of September 2017, we continued with the full translation in early December. A lot of it was communication amongst the group. I would assign pages to translate and they would quality check each other’s work.”

Mora and Krochel worked on the translation project along with fellow students and financial aid office employees Alex Brito and Jose Garica, as well as Financial Aid Assistant Vice President Brian Dixon.

Krochel said the project was a real group effort with everyone using their knowledge of the Spanish language to not only translate the words, but to convey the meaning of the original work in a way that is natural for Spanish speakers. She said that she is more familiar with the dialect of Spanish spoken in Spain, so her other group members helped her translate in a way that is more natural for people using the Mexican dialect of Spanish.

“We would have a couple-minute conversations on one word, what makes the most sense in context. We wanted to translate correctly and make it easy to understand,” she said. “If any explanation can be changed to be easier to understand that’s definitely what we were trying to do… You can even manipulate the sentence in such a way that it makes even more sense in Spanish.”

Both Mora and Krochel said the group did research to see if this type of translation work had been done before, but did not find any other examples. They believe WSU is one of the first schools to have full English and Spanish versions of the financial aid website.

Krochel is happy she was able to be part of a project like this and said part of the reason why she was interested in pursuing an education in Spanish was due to her classes at Mount Si High School.

“Spanish itself always piqued my interested and then I took AP Spanish with Jenny Foster,” she said. “I loved having such a great teacher who was able to pique an interest in so many different avenues of learning a language.”

Mora said they still have a few more items on the to-do list before the website is fully complete. The site still has a few videos that are in English, translating those is the final part of the project. He hopes that the financial aid translation group is able to start a trend of translating student service material into other languages to help serve the students and parents who aren’t native-English speakers.

“For me, my hope is we kind of lead the charge in other departments, they are trying to get more resources out there to more students and more families,” he said. “One of the biggest things is to think about our students and their success, we really do care and try to get that info out there for everybody.”

The group of WSU staff and students that translated the financial aid website. From left: Alex Brito, Jose Garica, Communications Advisor Ramiro Mora, Carmen Krochel, and Assistant Vice President Brian Dixon. (Courtesy Photo)

The group of WSU staff and students that translated the financial aid website. From left: Alex Brito, Jose Garica, Communications Advisor Ramiro Mora, Carmen Krochel, and Assistant Vice President Brian Dixon. (Courtesy Photo)