Bilingual Advisor/Principal Translator Dr. MaryEllen (aka Elena) Garcia brings her bilingual linguistic skills to her current position as Bilingual Advisor for the Sheridan team. A third-generation Mexican American, she was bilingual as a child but became more fluent in English than in Spanish in California’s public schools. (Schools don’t see that their emphasis on English often comes at a price, the loss of the home language, ironically, a potential resource for international trade and diplomacy.) She now has advanced linguistic abilities in Spanish, her heritage language, and speaks both languages easily. She has traveled extensively in Mexico and Spain and has taught Spanish grammar and Spanish linguistics at the university level. This expertise will be helpful to the Sheridan team in reaching out to our Latino constituents.
MaryEllen (Elena) was born to John R. and Lucy V. García, an auto worker and a home-maker, respectively. Her Dad served in the Army in WWII, seeing action both in Europe and in the Japanese theater, earning the rank of Master Sergeant. After the war he worked for Chrysler and joined the UAW, which provided many benefits for them via its bargaining power. Lucy later became a bilingual aide for elementary school children and a polls worker in many elections. Both were socially aware, followed the national political scene and voted in elections. Their unflagging support of the Democratic party—its ideals, causes, and activism—was something they passed along to their eldest daughter. They were also supportive of her academic accomplishments and her career as a college professor. They encouraged her to dream big. Due to her love of learning and interest in languages, Elena obtained a B.A. in Spanish from Occidental College, an M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Georgetown University.
Dr. Garcia’s professional career encompasses publication, research, and teaching over a span of more than 40 years. Her sociolinguistic research on the Spanish of Mexican-Americans is considered pioneering. Her publications include many journal articles and book chapters spanning the years from 1976 through 2014. She has traveled extensively to present her work at regional, national and international academic conferences. She has taught Spanish and linguistics at several universities in Southern California, including USC and UCLA. She moved to Texas in 1988 to accept a position at the University of Texas in San Antonio. There she joined in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, rising to the rank of Associate Professor. She retired in 2012 after 24 years. She has been interviewed as an expert on U.S. Spanish by the New York Times, the San Antonio Express-News and by Univision, to name a few media outlets. She has earned lifetime memberships in the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) and of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).
MaryEllen, (Elena), moved back to Southern California in June of 2012, eager to reunite with family and to live in her home state again. She now makes her home in Lake Elsinore.