Faculty and Staff

School Hires First Spanish Language Interpreter

From her arrival in late March through the middle of May, Amanda “Mandy” Black estimates she has provided interpretation and translation services for 100 patient visits.

She has become accustomed to leaving her office to assist clinic staff and returning to find requests for interpretation assistance taped to her door, on her desk or in her voicemail system.

Black is the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s first full-time Spanish language interpreter, and she has high hopes for this newly created position.

“My main project is being available for whatever clinics might need me,” Black said. “I am trying to prevent bilingual employees from leaving their administrative roles and desk while they translate for someone.”

Before Black was hired, the School’s Office of Clinical Affairs met the needs of the growing Latino non-English-speaking population through voluntary efforts of the clinics’ bilingual staff, said Dr. Douglas Solow, associate dean for clinical affairs.

“I am still grateful for the help these employees continue to provide,” he said. “However, the surge in this population has continued, and so we need to bring our interpretation services to the next level.”

Black’s responsibilities at the dental school include coordinating and providing interpretation and translation services, as well as providing telephone follow-up for Latino patients with limited proficiency in English. She also will serve as a liaison to student volunteer groups who sponsor outreach programs for the Latino community. In time, Black will develop cultural awareness programs for the School community.

“It’s not just a matter of providing language services,” Solow said. “We need to think of this as improving access to care. While we need someone with excellent language skills, we also need someone who understands the culture of the people we are serving and can identify barriers to receiving care.

“As a native North Carolinian who has lived in Mexico, Mandy comes with the needed skills and experience that are helping us in our mission.”

Black graduated with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, with bachelor’s degrees in studio art and Spanish. During her last year of college, she studied 11 months at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico, where all classes were taught in Spanish.

Black said she has been impressed with the way dental professionals within the clinics engage with their patients and with the warm reception the School community has given her.

“I like walking through the halls, meeting people, and I want people to stop in my office and say ‘hi’ to me anytime.”

Black’s office is 472 Brauer Hall, and she may be reached at 966-9565.