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PSU senior helps keep Spanish-speaking communities informed about COVID-19

Updates regarding the unprecedented Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are circulated frequently, with news and updates daily. However, with the quick spread of information, some communities may be left out of the chain of communication. Vanessa Tapia, PSU senior in communication, is working with Spanish TV station Univision to keep Spanish-speaking communities in the Kansas City metro area informed about the virus. 

“I personally noticed on social media we were receiving a lot information about Coronavirus in English, but we weren’t receiving a lot of it in Spanish and there aren’t a lot of articles or press releases translated,” Tapia said.  

According to Datausa, 10.2% of Kansas City, MO-KS citizens are speakers of a non-English language. Spanish is the most common language spoken, with 5.8% of the overall population speaking Spanish. 

“So, I noticed a lack and the need for it, so we started doing some extra work,” Tapia said.  

Tapia works with others from the network to translate news regarding the virus. 

“Every day we get out different news releases about it, talking to experts throughout the city, trying to get out as much information as possible through translating and press releases and everything,” Tapia said.  

The Univision staff currently work from home, but Tapia has set up her own studio at home to continue producing content for the channel. 

“After we receive press releases, we figure out what the community wants to hear most and what’s important then…,” Tapia said. “Then we do a video and putting them out on YouTube, Facebook and our news channel. They’re about a minute, so a minute on a different topic each day.” 

Tapia said they utilize Facebook and Facebook live to reach the communities. 

“It’s been the best way we’re reaching these communities,” Tapia said. “We do Facebook live where we are interviewing mayors, lawyers, school districts… we’re trying to get as much information through there.”  

Although it has been a lot of work, Tapia believes it is worth it.  

“So, it was a bit busy, but I think we’ve made an impact and the communities are more aware of it,” Tapia said. 

Troy Comeau, professor of communication, directs the media production program and said Tapia does well in stressful situations. 

“She is very calm under pressure,” Comeau said. “She’s one of the best students I’ve ever had in terms of a pressure situation… she will stay calm.” 

Comeau said he knew Tapia would do well in her field. 

“I could tell Vanessa was going to be successful very early in her career at Pittsburg State as a student,” Comeau said. “She learns quickly… she’s pretty well rounded.” 

Through her work at Univision, and now doing daily translation work, Tapia believes the experience has helped her grow. 

“Spanish was my first language, so usually I always translated for family and friends… but now as much or as professionally as I’ve been doing it here,” Tapia said. “It’s a challenge, but I’ve gained a lot in both English and Spanish. 

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