Meet Ebony, a multilingual Medical Information Associate who was emboldened to make a career change from retail pharmacy to the pharmaceutical industry and relocate to a different state! Read on to find out why she made the change and how she became fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

BGLL: Thank you so much for agreeing to share your story. Tell us about yourself.

Ebony: My name is Ebony Kennedy. Both sides of my family have been in small town, South Carolina for generations. I currently live just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. My hometown is Charlotte, North Carolina. My native language is English. I have a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences from UNC Chapel Hill as well as a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC Chapel Hill. I work as a Medical Information Associate, which is a recent career change for me and motivation for leaving North Carolina.

I am also an avid traveler, and I am obsessed with Latin America. Aside from Montreal, in Canada, all the foreign countries I have visited are Latin: Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. I am especially enamored with Brazilian culture and I want to spend some more time there.

Since my move to New England, I have also become very involved in aggressive quad skating as a part of Chicks in Bowls Boston. Not only is roller skating incredibly fun (especially when exploring a new city), but it's made me a part of an amazing community. I was even able to learn some moves from a couple of the girls from Chicks in Bowls Peru during my travels last year.

BGLL: What industry were you in before? Why the change?

Ebony: I was a retail pharmacist for four years, but I wanted career that would allow me to work in other areas of the US, or even outside of the country in the future. When I lost my retail job due to a corporate buyout, I started looking for a job in industry instead. I started the Medical Information job two months ago, and my language skills were a big part of the reason that I got hired. I'm so excited to be able to start my career in the pharmaceutical industry.

BGLL: What are your most notable accomplishments to date?

Ebony: Honestly my degrees/certifications are not the things that I am most proud of. The things that I am most proud of are my personal achievements. I am proud of the fact that I am trilingual. I am proud of the fact that I made a career move towards my future goals, and moved out of state for the first time. I am proud that I have worked to become more social and outgoing. I have largely overcome my social anxiety/extreme introversion and I'm still growing as a person.
BGLL: What other opportunities were you able to take part in due to your language skills?

Ebony: There are many small instances in which I've been able to help people out who have limited English. As a retail pharmacist, I had a few patients over the years who were very relieved to find that I knew Spanish, and sought me out because they felt more comfortable speaking with someone who knew their language. 

For the majority of my first year in Massachusetts, I participated in a weekly theatre class that is completely in Portuguese, because the professor and all of the students (apart from me) are Brazilian. I've made new friends, it’s something completely new for me, and I improved my language learning at the same time!

BGLL: What made you want to learn those languages? How did you learn them?

Ebony: I started taking Spanish in high school, and I took a couple of semesters of Portuguese in grad school. I started Spanish simply because I was required to take a language in high school. As I grew up in an area with lots of Latinos, I figured the most useful language would be Spanish. I grew to really love Latin culture, and when I had an opportunity to take another language, I chose Portuguese solely because it was the language of Brazil. The biggest country in South America doesn't even speak Spanish, and I felt I needed to cover my bases if I ever really wanted to learn about Brazil. You can learn so much more about another country if you speak the language. It’s incredible.

Aside from the aforementioned Spanish and Portuguese, I also want to learn French in the future. Starting a new language from scratch is very difficult, and I'm still trying to find the diligence to stay at it when I'm at such a novice level. Everyone has to start somewhere! I'm not able to use it much yet, but I would love to go to back to Montreal, or other parts of Quebec now that I live much closer. Speaking French would also help me should I get the opportunity to travel to Africa in the future! Speaking French and English will get you pretty far on that continent. I've said for a long time that I want to learn French, and I've been dragging my feet on getting started. My sister and I recently started an online group class, so hopefully this will give me the kickstart that I need.



BGLL: Which is your favorite and why?

Ebony: Don't ask me that! It's hard to choose, but I do feel more comfortable speaking Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese has a lovely fluid sound and it is so expressive.


BGLL: What are some tips you feel will help those learning languages?

Ebony: Do activities you already love and just incorporate your language into those activities. I LOVE music, and so much of my language learning has come from singing along to bachata, reggaeton and Brazilian funk. I also watch YouTube videos and listen to podcasts in other languages. I simply follow content makers that are in line with my interests. Many people don't stop to think that whatever you are into, be it video games, sports, makeup, or social commentary, many other people are out there with the same exact interests in your target language!

BGLL: What’s something that language learning has taught you?

Language learning is never done. Many people are impressed to hear me speak another language, but I still sometimes make grammar mistakes or don't understand something. Don't be discouraged, and don't be embarrassed. We're all human.

BGLL: How can we keep up with you on social media?

Ebony:  I'm not huge on social media, but if you send a message, I'll always respond. @trillizanumero2 is my Instagram page. If you follow me, you will see many pictures of my dog, Zane.

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