IMPACT in the Face of COVID-19

IMPACT - Interpreters for the Medical Profession through Advanced Curriculum and Teaching

Effective on Monday, March 16, all Ohio schools were closed, leaving much uncertainty and the need for rapid reorganization of our daily lives. The effects of the coronavirus outbreak in the US only intensified in the days and weeks following. However, as all organizations have done in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, IMPACT has responded to the crisis while aiming to preserve the program’s benefits for those who have invested much time, effort, and heart into it, namely our students.

We would like to applaud all involved with IMPACT for their perseverance. The incoming cohort, for example, was ready to take the ACT on the weekend of April 4th, but their test date was pushed to an uncertain later date. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to take it then,” says Westland HS IMPACT lead and Heritage Spanish teacher Mike Schwarten. “They’ve been troopers about it so far.”

Mr. Schwarten has the following words of encouragement for IMPACT students in these uncertain times: “Stay positive and focused on your future because, through hardship, strength is almost always found with the help of perseverance and determination.  The work we do now will impact who you become in the next decade and on. It’s worth the struggle.”

**Check for testing and other IMPACT updates on our events page!**

Spring Recap: Latinx Role Models

The first Latinx Role Model event of 2020 took place on January 31, when students were visited by medical interpreter Darsy Amaya, whom many involved with IMPACT already knew from her video interviews about the interpreting profession. This series can be found in the “Interpetting Profession” section of the IMPACT site’s resources page. In person, she shared even more about her history interpreting for her community and what life is like being a professional interpreter. She is very conscious of the value her services bring to members of her community, like kids at Nationwide here in Columbus and their families.

Darsy continues to be a valuable collaborator of IMPACT as well. She returned to Westland High School one evening the week following her presentation to talk to new students interested in joining the IMPACT Program!

Two weeks later on Valentine’s Day, Jessica Cáceres of the Ohio EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, visited Westland HS shared her love for her career in environmental science. Her message to students was to find what it is in life that you love to do most, then find or build a career in it. She brought snacks and successfully encouraged active participation from students. This was her first presentation of this nature, and she could not have done a better job!

This quote from a 2017 ¡Dímelo Columbus! interview with Cáceres explains what she means by letting what you enjoy most become your career. “I was interested in environmental science as a child – I was always playing outside. My mom recently sent me a photo of me picking up worms… So I think I’ve always had that interest in being in the outdoors and college helped me focus it through sustainability and eventually to environmental science.” That full interview with our very interesting visitor is available here.


Our third visitor for Spring 2020, Denise Arizpe, presented on March 3rd. She was not expected to be the final Latinx RM of the semester, however it was during that week that Ohio’s response to COVID-19 began. (Read about how IMPACT has dealt with the outbreak here.) Coincidentally, these times have a direct relationship to the importance of Denise Arizpe’s line of work as a Wexner Medical Center social worker with a background in mental healthcare. She shared with students how she came to this profession. In her current practice at Ohio State’s General Internal Medicine Clinic, she specializes in treating depression, anxiety, and adjustment during life transitions. In her work she has encountered a variety of patients including a wide range of ages and the LGBT+ community.

The variety of backgrounds and experiences which our Spring 2020 presenters brought to share with students represents the main purpose of the Latinx Role Model event series, to expose young Latinx students to the vast array of opportunities in the field of health and to give successful Latinxs in the Columbus area a platform to inspire.

Fall 2019 Role Model Recap

From participating in the Ohio Latino Health Summit to other field trips and special visitors, IMPACT students had a busy fall semester! Here is a recap of the Latinx Role Model events that gave students opportunities to learn about a wide variety of careers:

On October 3, Cohorts 3 and 4 took a field trip to labs at Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute and Nanotech West coordinated with Dr. Daniel Gallego Perez. Students received facility tours and overviews and demos of the various lab work done in these locations.

Photo of exterior of Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute building, the sky is blue

Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute

On October 17, trilingual scientist and educator Carla Mello came to Westland High School to tell students about her life and career as well as transitions from her home country of Brazil, to Chile where she lived for six years, to finally the United States. You can read more about her visit in our last blog post!

On November 4, students were visited by Paloma Peña, Director of Quality and Customer Experience at Martti, a tele-interpreting network which provides healthcare facilities with “ready access to interpreters on any device, anywhere and anytime.” Ms. Peña spoke to students about her life and work with medical interpreting via distance conferencing computers.

On November 21, students welcomed the final Latinx Role Model of 2019, licensed professional counselor Ana Berríos-Allison. You can find an episode of the podcast, Ohio Habla, which features Ana Berríos-Allison discussing Latinx mental health here.


Latinx Role Model: Carla Mello

On October 17th, IMPACT students received a very engaging and unique trilingual presentation from scientist and educator Carla Mello. Carla recently changed jobs from her position as a Youth Career Exploration Specialist at COSI to her current role with Ohio History Connection as manager of the Ohio as America curriculum.

Carla focused her presentation on her the trajectory of her life and career as well as transitions from her home country of Brazil, to Chile where she lived for six years, to finally the U.S. Her presentation’s visual components representing these periods were organized by the language associated with each place. Slides on Brazil had text in Portuguese (though she presented this portion in English) while those on Chile had Spanish text (which were presented in Spanish also) and those pertaining to the U.S. had English text (presented once again in English).

Carla shared about her professional  experience, starting with her degrees in Biology and Education which helped her navigate through a variety of career fields, from molecular biology research to public health, before discovering her true passion for working in informal education environments, particularly museums. She answered students’ questions about the financing of her pursuits and how the process of immigration factored into all of it. She interacted with students in both Spanish and English. Our students were also very interested to hear about the 14 other countries which Carla has traveled to in her life!

IMPACT greatly appreciates Carla’s ability to get our students engaged and thinking about their futures by sharing her story with them. Carla Mello stands at the front right corner of a classroom. In front of her are several rows of desks where students are seated, and behind her is a wall with a cork board and banner of the flags of Latin America.

2019 Ohio Latino Health Summit

The annual Ohio Latino Health Summit was hosted at the OSU Fawcett Center on October 8th this year in partnership with the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission, the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, and LULAC. The 2019 summit theme was “From Cultural Competency to Cultural Humility.” This theme was represented in presentations such as “Congregational Partnerships for Latino Health,” “Trauma Informed Principles through a Culturally Specific Lens,” a keynote speech from Lisa Stewart, Senior Engagement Officer with the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and more.

IMPACT’s own Laura Ornelas (red sweater) and Anais Fernandez  gave accounts of their experience in our program during the first session of the portion of the summit focused on building capacity in the medical fields for care of multilingual, multicultural patients through education.

photo of young girl, Laura Ornelas with microphone standing on stairs beside stage where panelists sit and Glenn Martinez stands at podium, watching her speak

Laura Ornelas sharing her IMPACT experience during “Medical Spanish Across the Pipeline”

Cohorts 3 and 4 attended the summit as a field trip. IMPACT’s founder, Dr. Glenn Martinez, was a key coordinator of the Latino Health Summit and moderator of several sessions including that in which the IMPACT Program was showcased as an example of capacity building.

five female panelists sit at a table onstage in front of a screen with the IMPACT logo projected onto it. to their left a man speaks at a podium. to his left, Glenn Martinez stands on the stage of the crowd, seated at round black tables, watching a presentation on the stage at the front of a room with brick walls and a white ceiling.






We would like to extend thanks to Dr. Martinez, as well as Lair Marin-Marcum of OCHLA and all others involved in the planning of the 2019 Ohio Latino Health Summit. 

Practice for Your Oral Exam!




In order to help you accomplish one of IMPACT’s main goals, becoming certified as a medical interpreter, you’ll want to spend time with this great resource! The NBCMI has an online practice test meant for familiarizing candidates with the oral exam component of getting certified. To take the practice test, make sure you are using a PC computer. Go to the testing site: and log in using the username practicetest and password practicetest


Also, it will be helpful to take a look at this fragment of the NBCMI Candidate Hadbook, all about how to prepare for your certification exams! NBCMI- candidate handbook, preparing for the exam

Best of luck! & Feel free to email with feedback on wether you find these resources useful.

Latinx Role Model Duo: Iliana Martinez & Marbella Cáceres

Marbella Careers of OCECD Presenting to Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati

On April 12th, students received visits from two women who are instrumental in the support of Ohio Hispanic families with children with disabilities, Marbella Cáceres and Iliana Martinez. They work for the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD). Marbella created P.L.A.N.E.O. (Latino Parents Associated for Special Children in Ohio), a statewide support group for Spanish-speaking families. She translates materials for families from English to Spanish and is involved in the development of trainings that address cultural needs. Iliana supports the coordination of P.L.A.N.E.O. and also serves Mid Ohioan Hispanic families by advising on their rights through trainings and advocacy skills.

Presentations were delivered in Spanish. Iliana encouraged students to embrace who they are and their bilingualism and to fight for their passions, while Marbella had a great message about working for what you want in life, no matter how long it takes you and what path you take. Iliana, who is originally from Mexico, also spoke on coming to the USA, and what it took to get involved and develop her career. Marbella and Iliana both mentioned their personal motivators, such as both being mothers of special needs children. Students found their stories relatable and engaging. We appreciate the time each of these presenters took to speak to our students, as well as the important services they each work hard to provide to Ohio families.


Iliana Martinez is OCECD’s Latino Community Families Information Specialist/Trainer, Mid Ohio Latino Office. 



Marbella Cáceres is OCECD’s Interim Co-Executive Director & Statewide Multicultural Director, Marion Office. 

Latinx Role Model: Dra Zobeida Cruz-Monserrate



On February 5th, students received a visit from Zobeida Cruz-Monserrate, Ph.D, who works in the Department of Internal Medicine at The James. She also holds an Assistant Professor position with OSU, and is the Director of the GHN Molecular and Cellular Biology Program and Laboratory at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Dr. Cruz-Monserrate’s main message to the students was to seek opportunities to follow their passions. She encouraged them to consider all the different paths to do so, like continued education (med school vs. grad school) and the wide range of fellowships and grants to apply for to fund their passions.

We greatly appreciate Dr. Cruz-Monserrate taking time from her very important work and research to share her career advice and expertisse with the class.

Role Model Event: Valente Alvarez

On December 3, 2018, students were visited by Dr. Valente Alvarez, a professor in OSU’s Department of Food Science & Technology and the Director of the Food Industries Center at OSU. Dr. Alvarez graduated from the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City, Mexico with a Bachelor of Biochemical Engineering degree, then from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan with a MS and PhD in Food Science degrees. He now has over 30 years of experience in his area of expertise.

During his presentation, which was given in Spanish, Dr. Alvarez highlighted the importance of education at the college level as well as working hard in high school to gain the best opportunities for college. He spoke about being raised by a single mother with limited resources, yet how being able to succeed in his education led him to professional success. Also, he informed students about the work opportunities in his field.

We greatly appreciate Dr. Alvarez for his enthusiasm in giving his time to encourage and motivate students to pursue further education and sharing about the field of Food Science & Technology!

OSU Pharmacy Day Field Trip

We had 100% attendance for our field trip on November 26th! IMPACT students got to learn more about potential careers in healthcare related to pharmacy and talk with current OSU pharmacy students. They participated in some activities too, pictured below.

A team of our students (one as patient and one as translator) with a team of third year pharmacy students going over the patient’s diabetic scenario. Students rotated roles several times, with a variety of pharmacists, to get practice at medical translation.

Students checking prescriptions vs. medicine bottles to find the mistakes.