Karen Sharp has come full circle and she’s loving it.
The longest-serving member of MITA’s leadership committee, Karen was born in Fort Worth, TX. Over the next twenty-plus years, she would go on to live in Limestone, Maine; Clark Field, Philippines; Little Rock, Arkansas; Montgomery, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; Waco, Texas; Farmington, New Mexico; and Mesa, Arizona. So where does she live now? Back in Fort Worth, TX, in the same house where she was born.
When Karen was 9 years old, she had a friend whose grandmother spoke Spanish. “I was totally intrigued,” she says, “When I was 11, I found out that a lady from South America was living in the apartments where we were temporarily living. I knocked on her door and asked if she would teach me Spanish. She kindly (bless her heart) agreed and taught me songs and basic Spanish until I moved away.”
Karen continued to study Spanish from junior high through university. But it wasn’t until many years after college, when she was dating a man from Colombia, that she got her first taste of translation. He was a research engineer in the oil and gas field and was asked to do a translation into English. Since English was not his native tongue, he asked Karen to work with him. “Had I known then what I know now about what is required to be a translator, I would have been too afraid to try!” she laughs. But in the process, she fell in love with translation and launched into the lifelong learning that marks every good translator. “I will be studying until I take my last breath,” she continued. “There is always something new to learn, and that is part of what I love about translating.”
Karen’s full time work as a computer draftsperson (AutoCAD) currently limits the time she can spend on translation jobs; while most are small projects, she does take on larger texts when deadlines are generous. In addition, she is working on an ongoing project, proofreading and editing a series of aviation manuals.
While time constraints keep Karen from being as active in her community as she would like, she does what she can. Even there, translation finds her. A member of her neighborhood association, Karen translated the monthly newsletter and website into Spanish (pro bono). One summer, she served as a pro bono interpreter for a program managed through a local elementary school, facilitating communication between a limited-English speaking family and the team of volunteers who cleaned and made repairs to a student’s home.
Karen is the only founding member of MITA to still serve on the leadership committee and the spirit of service that she brings to the table is of unmeasurable value to us all.