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Lopa: Surgeon Leading with Gujarati & Spanish

Professionals across industries and skill levels are sharing the value of language learning

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Meet Lopa—a Pelvic Reconstructive Surgeon at the University of Illinois Hospitals.

Over and over again, I see the relief on a patient's face when I am able to communicate in their primary language. Nothing can replace that.

Languages: English, Gujarati, and Spanish

Grew Up In: Orland Park, IL

College & Concentrations:

  • Saint Louis University – Biology/Psychology, History Minor
  • Medical School at Saint Louis University School of Medicine

Study Abroad: Madrid, Spain

How have your language and cultural skills supported and/or enhanced your professional opportunities?

As a physician its essential to build rapport and trust with my patients. Being able to speak with them in their primary language enhances my ability to do that. When patients are able to speak with me in Gujarati or Spanish it allows them to feel comfortable talking about a topic they may not want to discuss with an interpreter.

Speaking different languages allows me to provide culturally sensitive care and explain diagnoses and treatment options in a more thorough way. Over and over again, I see the relief on a patient's face when I am able to communicate in their primary language. Nothing can replace that.

What advice would you share with current language learners or those considering studying a language?

Keep it up! It's such an important skill to have. It allows you to connect with other people from all around the world and be exposed to different ideas. It allows for an amazing back and forth with so many people. I think overall it can only help to deepen your interactions and relationships with others both at home and abroad.

My father actually learned his fourth language through his third language as an adult after the age of 40! So really language learning is possible for any age. He's a pediatrician who learned Spanish so that he could communicate with his patients and it was really inspiring for me to see.

It’s often said that English is the language of global business, and because of that, language skills aren’t necessary to succeed. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

I disagree. I don’t conduct business, but I know what it's like to talk to people and connect with them. Business is about interactions and relationships and meeting people where they are. Most people are appreciative of the effort that is made, and that will only enhance anything moving forward. Also, knowing a language allows you to know the nuance and avoid misunderstandings. Finally, this can lead to missed opportunities and loss of a way to make yourself marketable.

Check out our Connect with Spanish—or explore another language of your choosing—for information about university programs, scholarship opportunities, testimonials, and more!

Then tell us how you put your language skills to work @LangConnectsFdn on social media.

Know a multilingual professional who's using language skills in their work or career? Refer them to us for consideration in an upcoming Professional Profile.