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HISPANIC PROFILE

 

Colombian latina adds bilingual flavor to mayor’s office


By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent

 

March 25, 2014: In an effort to better assist Toledo’s growing Spanish-speaking population, the Toledo mayor’s office has hired a Colombian native as a mayor’s assistant.

 

Silvia Jiménez graduated from the University of Toledo last year with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She joined the mayor’s office in January after learning the Collins administration was specifically seeking someone with bilingual skills.


Silvia Jiménez

 

“I love it. It’s great, because I get to meet a lot of people from different countries and I get to help the Hispanic community,” she said. “That makes it very interesting at times.”

 

Ms. Jiménez is the first person people encounter when they reach the 22nd floor of One Government Center with business at the mayor’s office. She doubles as a receptionist and legislative researcher, as well as other assigned duties. To some degree, the former model is the public face of the mayor’s office.

 

“Yes, I am. I just like to help people, make sure they get the help that they need—so it’s good,” said Ms. Jiménez, who readily admits she is shy by nature. “So far, we’ve haven’t had too many problems, because I think people are trying to get to know us (the Collins administration) a little bit better. They want to meet to see what we can do for them.”

 

Ms. Jiménez graduated from Colegio la Presentacion, a Catholic high school in Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia, before coming to the U.S. about five years ago to further her education.

 

Her older sister came to Toledo about a decade ago to study at the American Language Institute (ALI), which is housed at UT. ALI offers English language classes to students from all over the world, as well as local residents and businesses. UT’s version was founded in 1977.

 

“She really liked the program and she really liked the people she interacted with,” said Ms. Jiménez. That drew Silva to join her older sister in Toledo. “I went to ALI for six months because I didn’t know any English.”

 

She first became involved with the local Latino community through the International Student Association while attending community college, then joined the Latino Student Union (LSU) while at UT. She officially became a U.S. citizen in January.

 

Ms. Jiménez worked for COMPASS for six months immediately following graduation as a counselor assistant, leading support group sessions for alcohol and drug addiction clients.

She also was responsible for assessment, individualized treatment planning, and discharge of patients. Along with her psychology degree, she earned a minor in counseling at UT, where she made Dean’s list.

 

“I enjoyed it. It was different. I became more open-minded, not to judge people, because we really don’t know until we see what they’ve been through and why they do the stuff that they do,” she said. “I miss it sometimes.”

 

As a teen, Ms. Jiménez modeled a youth clothing line in her native Colombia. While attending UT, she worked for DSW: Designer Shoe Warehouse at the Franklin Park Mall, admitting that shoe shopping is one of her “weaknesses.”

 

“I liked it. I liked being around people every single day. I like customer service,” she said. “I enjoy it.”

 

In a roundabout way, she believes working at DSW and COMPASS have prepared her well for her present role in the mayor’s office.

 

“It’s helped me to be more open to people,” said Ms. Jiménez. “It’s hard sometimes not to judge what people want. It’s helped me to be more willing to listen.”

 

Ms. Jiménez has big aspirations. First, she hopes to make a long-term career within city government. To that end, she intends to return to school to work on her Master’s degree, possibly in social work. Her sister currently is working on a graduate degree at the University of Findlay.

 

“I want to help the Hispanic community to get more involved, because I feel that we are lacking. We don’t really know the resources that we have out there,” said the 24-year old. “I like the language and I want to help them to get involved in Toledo. That’s what I want to be doing in the mayor’s office.”

 

To that end, Ms. Jiménez wants local Latino individuals and families to know they can contact her directly at the mayor’s office so she can connect them to services and programs or personally troubleshoot any situations that arise.

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/01/14 18:46:56 -0800.

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