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USD Spanish students translate service into savings for local residents

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Earlier this month, students from the University of South Dakota served as interpreters at the Mary J. Treglia Community House in Sioux City, Iowa.

Seven advanced Spanish students and one faculty member spent a day in service as interpreters as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Students had the opportunity to use their language skills in an authentic context while also providing an important service to the community.

During the event, students greeted clients, assessed individual language needs, made copies of necessary forms, and provided general customer service. Students also helped translate information from tax forms that were not readily available in Spanish. The event was well-attended by community members, with many residents waiting in line several hours for the free service.

USD participants included Michael Doering, Good Thunder, Minn.; Katie Klaassen, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Kelsey McCann, Sioux City, Iowa; Uver Rodriguez, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Daniel Shugar-Garza, Woodland Hills, Calif.; Jesse Van Maanen, Yankton, S.D.; Alyssa Wendt, Spearfish, S.D.; and USD Professor and Department Chair of Languages and Linguistics Laura Vidler.

The day of service is part of a course-embedded service-learning project co-sponsored by the Center for Academic & Global Engagement and the Department of Modern Languages & Linguistics. In preparation for the event, students participated in an informational session about service-learning, learned more about the community partner they would be working with, and studied tax-related vocabulary in order to be prepared to serve the needs of the community members they would serve.

Download a photo of Doering, Shugar-Garza and Wendt.

About the Mary J. Treglia Community House

Since 1921, the Community House has worked to help families achieve self-sufficiency, and helped children learn to succeed in school and in life.

About the Department of Modern Languages & Linguistics

Learning another language is more than a vocabulary list and pronunciation key. It's learning to speak, listen, read and write, and it's also learning to understand another culture. No matter what career path you choose – education, business, government, healthcare or another – proficiency in more than one language and knowledge of other cultures can give you a powerful advantage in today's multicultural world. For information about the program, please contact


USD’s Center for Academic & Global Engagement (CAGE) gives students the chance to gain real-world experience and knowledge and connect with their community and the larger world. CAGE offers academically based opportunities that create skills employers and graduate schools seek. Among them: off-campus service-learning programs, studying abroad, student exchange, undergraduate research and nationally competitive awards and fellowships. CAGE also provides support to international students with cultural and academic adjustments as well as immigration concerns.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News