Student Campaign Leads to New Translation Options on WT’s Website


CANYON, Texas — An engaged student is behind a significant addition to West Texas A&M University’s online presence.

Allan Baltazar, a senior criminal justice and psychology major from Houston, recognized a need for consistent translation options on the website, which ultimately led to a plug-in that can translate any webpage on into dozens of different languages.

Baltazar, who serves as secretary of campus community on the president’s advisory council of the WT Student Government Association, had initially proposed adding separate Spanish-language pages on the site, but WT’s Office of Information Technology found a more efficient and more broadly applicable solution.

“We’re using the Google Translate library, which will take the contents of a page and translate it into virtually any language you would like,” said IT engineer Eyoel Mengesha. “But instead of doing that directly through Google, which would involve using a proxy server that’s blocked for security reasons, we just downloaded the library ourselves.”

Mengesha used that library to customize a plug-in that’s consistently responsive on mobile devices and offers dozens of language options, from Afrikaans to Zulu.

“This is a great example of students and administrators working together and reflects our student-centered philosophy at WT,” said James Webb, vice president for IT and chief information officer. “Actively engaging, listening and anticipating the needs of our faculty, staff and students is one of our strategic goals. We were honored to work with Allan Baltazar and the passion that he brought to this project. The end result will streamline access to information across the globe.”

Users can click on the maroon-colored box labeled “Español” in the lower left corner of most screens. That will immediately translate the text into Spanish. Additionally, a pull-down menu will appear in the top left corner, offering instant translation into more than 130 other languages.

Baltazar said he’s happy he and the SGA were able to make a difference for future students.

“I’m excited for how many more families and students that we’ll be able to reach,” Baltazar said. “As a Hispanic Serving Institution, this is a way we are actually serving that population and living up to those responsibilities.”

WT qualified for HSI status in 2016. To qualify, an institution’s Hispanic full-time equivalency must be at least 25 percent of the overall undergraduate population.

Since that time, overall enrollment of Hispanic students has grown significantly. As of Spring 2023, Hispanics made up nearly 30 percent of WT’s overall student population, including part-time, international and graduate students.

“Our long-term goal, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World, calls on WT to recruit a student body that reflects the diverse population of the Texas Panhandle,” said President Walter V. Wendler. “Regional universities that act and think locally will reach globally. Diversity in the student body, faculty and staff directly supports the intellectual mission of the University by assuring that a broad and relevant set of experiences, perspectives, needs and talents are present in the academic community.”

Universities that have achieved HSI status are eligible for additional grants for faculty, researchers and students, among other benefits.

Recruiting a student body that reflects the diverse population of the Texas Panhandle is a key metric of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.



Photo: Student Government Association commitee member Allan Baltazar, left, and IT engineer Eyoel Mengesha collaborated on a project that added an extensive new translation tool to WT’s website.