School of Veterinary Medicine scholar awarded grant, aims to improve Spanish competency in animal health

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Arlene Garcia-Marquez, via the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – A School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) scholar was awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, aiming to improve Spanish competency among animal health professionals to work towards effective and diverse communication.

“Communication between veterinarians and animal caregivers is essential when it comes to ensuring instructions are not only understood but also carried out properly.” said the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine, “In many situations, those animal caregivers speak little to no English at all.”

Arlene Garcia-Marquez, an assistant professor of Behavior and Welfare at the SVM, was awarded the grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Garcia-Marquez’s project is titled “Developing Spanish Communicative Competence among Veterinary and Animal Science Students to Improve U.S. Agriculture.” It aims to strategically respond to challenges veterinarians and animal science professionals face to effectively communicate with non-English speaking animal caretakers.

The grant was awarded by the Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture Program, which is part of the USDA-NIFA.

Joining Garcia-Marquez on the project at Texas Tech are Dean Guy Loneragan and Assistant Professor Alexandra Calle from the SVM as well as Associate Professor Amy Boren-Alpizar from the Department of Agricultural Education & Communication in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources (CASNR), and Jorge Zamora, an associate professor in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures in the College of Arts & Sciences.

“My team and I couldn’t be more excited to receive funding for this topic that is so critical for sustainable agriculture,” Garcia-Marquez said. “We have worked really hard in developing a proposal that will now allow us to better prepare our future veterinarians and animal science professionals.”

For the project, Garcia-Marquez also has teamed up with researchers from North Carolina State University, Tarleton State University, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and the University of Zulia in Venezuela in developing and implementing three courses of Spanish for Specific Purposes in Agriculture into the current veterinary medicine and animal science curricula at the SVM and CASNR.

“Our school’s mission can be distilled to service to rural and regional communities,” said Loneragan. “For many animal caregivers in the communities we serve, Spanish is a preferred language. And it is more than simply speaking Spanish. It is also understanding the various and diverse cultures. This transformative project will help build Spanish and cultural competency, and enable us to excel at our mission.

“We set out to recruit and hire the best faculty. Dr. Garcia is truly outstanding and we are so excited that she is part of our team. She has worked hard for this grant and demonstrated exceptional grit. She is contributing to our School in so many ways. Importantly, she is developing new ways for us to build competency and engage in a diverse world.”

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