Students to Serve as Translators at Polls on Election Day

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

While many Saint Joseph's University students will head to the polls on Election Day to vote, a group of student volunteers will join Heather Hennes, Ph.D., and Elaine Shenk, Ph.D., assistant professors of Spanish, in translating for Spanish-speaking voters in Philadelphia.

This is the first year that a group of Saint Joseph's students will be volunteering together at the polls. It is also the first year that the city has reached out for student volunteers, according to City Solicitor Shelley R. Smith.

Smith noted the city is seeking additional translators for the general turnout this year because the translator response has been unreliable in the past.

"The City is very pleased with the response it has received from its outreach to area students," Smith said. "The students have been very enthusiastic and, in many cases, faculty members, resident advisors and leaders of student groups have helped spread the word, thereby increasing the number of interested students."

Hennes first received word of the translating opportunity through a list-serve e-mail from, a non-profit organization that caters to college students in the greater Philadelphia area. She then offered the opportunity to students in her upper-level classes.

"Our students are very concerned about helping others," Hennes said. "They are very community-minded."

For junior Ashlee Dauphinais, the benefit of translating is twofold. "I'm excited to volunteer because I like to use my Spanish skills whenever possible, and it is also a good opportunity to help others who need it," she said.

The Saint Joseph's students and professors will join over 100 Philadelphia-based students in translating at polling locations in the 7th, 19th, 23rd, 33rd, 35th, 42nd, 43rd, 53rd and 61st wards.

--Maureen Catalano '09

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