Expanding services for Spanish speakers

January 30, 2022


By Nicole Hansen

When her Fulbright grant was postponed because of COVID-19, Gabriela Telepman, ’20, knew she didn’t want to wait to make a difference.

She found a job as community relations coordinator with Latinos in Virginia Empowerment Center and spent the year connecting with nonprofits across the state to create an advocacy network for Latino families to help with everything from financial aid to escaping an abuser. This work included setting up a 24/7 bilingual hotline for Spanish-speaking survivors of domestic violence.

“No matter what your language is, everyone deserves the equal right to receive help,” she said. “You’re already traumatized by the violence you experienced, then you re-trigger it in recounting it, and it’s that much harder for someone who doesn’t speak English, or doesn’t speak it well, to do.”

Telepman grew up in Miami, speaking both English and Spanish in her home. When she joined Latinos in Virginia, it was a familiar, bilingual, environment. She worked with primarily English-speaking nonprofits across the state to connect them with resources that would build their capacity to advocate for the needs of Spanish-speaking clients.

“We wanted to make a connection with this community in their language,” she said. “It was definitely a lot to process, but it felt really great to know that I was a part of this.”

Telepman studied international business at Richmond and won the Fulbright Garcia-Robles Binational Internship. She is currently completing the internship in marketing in Mexico City and taking international business courses at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.