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Academics: B.A. Student Profiles

Students earning a major or minor in Latin American Studies are diverse. Some come to the program because they are drawn to better understand their family's history, others because of a professional interest in gaining cultural competency - and many for both.

Current

Lisette Anabel Camarillo

Lisette Anabel Camarillo

Degree: Double Major in Biology and Latin American Studies: double minor in Chemistry and Psychology

Expected Graduation: Spring 2020

What drew you to the Latin American Studies program?

I am interested in Latin America because I am Latina. I was born in the US but my family is from Spain and Mexico. I have always been fascinated with history and learning what it was like before our time in the United States. And now to be given the chance to learn and study my homeland's history and culture is what draws me to Latin American Studies. In this degree I have the opportunity to study history from a different perspective, and connect with individuals living outside of the United States.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the program?

The most rewarding aspect of the Latin American Studies major is my study of history and the new perspective it has given me. Every Latin American Studies class I attend I learn something new, and the professors who teach the classes are also another reward because of their excitement about the classes and the topics they are teaching. I also enjoy thinking about my ancestors and their experiences while learning history which makes it even more interesting.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

In five years, I hope to see myself just graduated from UNM and starting my first year in Medical School, while still keeping my end goal of becoming a surgeon in mind. I also plan to eventually go back California and give back to my community, which has given me so much and helped me become the person I am today!

Natalie Gulan

Natalie Gulan

Degree: Double Major in Biology and Latin American Studies

Expected Graduation: Spring 2019

What drew you to the Latin American Studies program?

I'm interested in Latin American Studies because of amazing culture that there is to learn about and be involved in. I've always enjoyed helping people and knew that I wanted to be a pediatrician for many years, but I knew that I wanted to do more than that. I became very interested in Brazil and would love to be able to study abroad there at some point in my education as well as work there through internships or volunteer work. I would love to be involved with Doctors Without Borders at some point in my life, hopefully helping people located in Brazil, but anywhere in Latin America would be just as wonderful. This program has really allowed me to open my eyes to a new culture and new opportunities so I can be involved in something bigger.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the program?

I'm very grateful to have had professors who are so passionate about their field of work. Being able to be in a classroom learning about different aspects of Latin America from professors who are really interested and involved in the studies of Latin America has really shaped my learning and understanding. Dr. Bieber specifically has opened my eyes and provided me with a new love for learning about colonial Latin America. Her teaching, passion, and knowledge of the subject has sparked a deeper interest of the subject in me. There are endless resources this school has provided me with to engage and learn as much as I possibly can.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Hopefully I will be accepted into the medical school here at UNM and be on my way to becoming the pediatrician I want to be. From there I hope to begin work in Albuquerque, specifically being involved in a practice that can cater to the needs of people whose first language isn't English, making it easier for their children to get help. I hope to be able to go down and work in Latin America eventually, specifically Brazil. It would be a pleasure to be able to work through a nonprofit organization such as Doctors Without Borders.

Maria Alejandra Estupinan

Maria Alejandra Estupinan

Degree: Double Major in Biology and Latin American Studies

Expected Graduation: Spring 2018

What drew you to the Latin American Studies program?

I am interested in Latin America because I am Latin American. I was born in Cali, Colombia and I moved to the United States when I was six and have grown up between New York and Colombia. I love my culture and the way I learned about United States history growing up is the same way I would like to learn about Latin America.

After living in Colombia upon graduating high school, my interest in studying Latin America came from wanting to know more of the history of how all of the wonderful Latin American countries came to be. I love learning history, and I think learning my own history is very important and studying Latin America can help me do that.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the program?

I see learning about Latin America and being a part of the Latin American Studies program as really rewarding. In class I really enjoy studying and learning Latin American history, and outside of classes I am currently a volunteer apprentice at the Casa de Salud Clinic in Albuquerque. I would like to be more involved with the Latin American community and program as I continue at UNM.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I'm currently undecided as to which career path I plan on pursuing after I complete my degrees in Latin American Studies and Biology. I plan to attend medical school, join the FBI, or continue on for a Ph.D. I hope to continue volunteering and learning more about potential medical or State Department jobs that connect with my interests and experience.

Recent

Adam Jenkins

Adam Jenkins

Degree:

Expected Graduation: Spring 2017

What drew you to the Latin American Studies program?

I was intrigued about furthering my understanding of Latin America culture. Growing up I didn't learn much of anything of Latin America until I spent two years in Mexico after graduating high school. I met beautiful generous people that I fell in love with. Then the Latin American Studies program offered me an opportunity to learn more of their history and culture, their struggles and accomplishments, and their past and present. The program also offered financial assistance to help support their goals of better understanding Latin American history and culture which was very generous.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the program?

The most rewarding experience would have to be the wealth of knowledge I've been introduced to that has changed my perspective on many aspects of culture and different countries. I've learned humility through the struggles of others. I've gained empathy through the personal accounts of many.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I see myself finishing my fourth year in medical school with my beautiful wife and kids.

Amber Nicole Martinez

Amber Nicole Martinez

Degree: Double Major in Biology and Latin American Studies

Expected Graduation: December 2017

What drew you to the Latin American Studies program?

I am interested in Latin America because it is so rich in culture and diversity. The diverse aspect reminds me of New Mexico; which has always been really fascinating to me since there is something special about places that have a great mixture of people. I decided to major in Latin American Studies to supplement my studies in biology. When I began pursuing my BS in Biology, I realized that when I am finished I wanted to also have a degree that helps me to connect better and understand cultures and the ways of life for many others instead of just knowing these aspects for my own community.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the program?

So far, my degree path in Latin American Studies has been rewarding because it has exposed me to history about Latin America that I never knew before; I have also begun to learn the Spanish language which is very exciting to me. I feel like the most rewarding part about studying Latin America will be feeling a connection to my ancestral roots and being able to feel a closer connection with the many people who descend from Latin America. Each new LAS course I take, I get to meet a new professor who is an expert in Latin America and they are always so passionate about the study that it gives me even more motivation and enthusiasm to complete my degree.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

In five years I see myself pursuing my ultimate goal of attending Medical School as well as volunteering in my community to help make it even greater! Hopefully by then I will have also already had the opportunity to study abroad in Latin America and meet the wonderful people of the region as well as help them in any way that I can.

Elise Payette

Elise Payette

Degree: Double Major in Latin American Studies and Spanish; Minor in Portuguese.

Expected Graduation: May 2016

What drew you to the Latin American Studies program?

My favorite aspect of the Latin American Studies program is its interdisciplinary nature. I am able to take courses across many fields such as history, foreign language, political and social science, anthropology, and ethnic studies. Nearly all of my courses intersect in some way and I am able to look at the same concepts through different lenses. My original interest was primarily language. The LAS program has allowed me to broaden my interests and general understanding of Latin America as a region as well as through cultural, geographical and spatial differences. Some areas I have found particularly engaging are: immigration, critical race studies, Chicano and borderlands cultural production (music, literature, art), and human rights.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the program?

The most memorable experiences in the program have been Skype and in-person interviews with several authors whose works I have read in class. Through LAS, I have had the privilege of taking courses with phenomenal professors who are experts in the field. Their mentorship, advice, and recommendations have been invaluable. UNM also has a wealth of resources, guest lectures, presentations, exhibits and community events that encompass aspects of Latin American studies and culture. I would say these have been exceptionally rewarding in my undergraduate experience.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

In five years I hope to be living in a Latin American country: Mexico, Uruguay, Chile, or Brazil. After graduation I plan on obtaining an interpreter's license for legal/medical translation. I would also like to take the Foreign Service exam, which will hopefully bring me to South America. In the future, I would like to use my Latin American Studies background to work in a museum, as a tour guide, in Foreign Service, immigration activism, interpretation/translation, travel, and to pursue an advanced degree.

Mateo Rocha

Mateo Rochas

Degree: Double Major in Linguistics and Latin American Studies

Expected Graduation: May 2016

What drew you to the Latin American Studies program?

It is a very curious dynamic when academic endeavors align with personal ones. In other words, my selected academic studies draw from a very personal endeavor. I chose to study LAS to understand the chain of events and intertwined contexts that produced the very life my family and I live. We emigrated from Colombia at a time when widespread violence took hold of urban centers there, along with general socioeconomic instabilities. I yearn to understand these phenomena in order to know my circumstance and to be a part of something greater than just a simple paycheck given for a degree.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the program?

As a general response, learning from my colleagues and peers has been very rewarding. As a specific response, I am very grateful for having been a part of Dr. Kency Cornejo's lectures on Latin American art, the discourse that stems from analyzing visual culture through analytic lenses and scrutinizing the very idea of what is called Latin America from decolonial perspectives.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I see myself integrated with a community of writers, thinkers, artists, and laborers. Hopefully this will be in a Latin American context. I envision creating or joining a publishing house with the aims of circulating locally produced language, literature and debate, with the prospects of also helping translate publications in as many languages as I can!

Jeanine Rogge

Jeanine Rogge

Degree:Double Major in Psychology and Latin American Studies.

Expected Graduation:December 2016

What drew you to the Latin American Studies program?

After I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I first decided to major in Psychology, but I felt as if something was still missing. During my freshman year, I had taken a history of Latin America class and was absolutely fascinated with Latin America. I knew that both my parents grew up in South America, but they spoke only briefly of their hometown in Ecuador. After listening and reading about Latin American history, I grew curious about my own roots and was intrigued by the economic and political development of such a beautiful region. By the end of my sophomore year, I had participated in a Cultural Cognitive Psychology lab, which primarily focused on Hispanic and Latino populations. As a research assistant, I interviewed many individuals from different parts of Latin America. I was drawn to their warm personalities and enthusiastic conversations. Once again, I grew curious about the people, customs, and cultural practices in Latin America. I finally decided to speak to my advisor about Latin American Studies; he motivated me to minor in the LAS program. After finding out about the LAS program and speaking to LAS advisors, it felt like and still feels like the perfect fit.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the program?

During my time as a LAS student I’ve had the pleasure to work with such an amazing advisor. She has helped me coordinate and plan my schedule over the course of the semester. All of the courses have been extremely interesting and insightful. I’ve been able to learn more and more about where my parents grew up and how Latin America has changed over time. Overall, the LAS staff is wonderful. Each professor is warm and open for questions. The most rewarding experience is working with the LAII and working with such an extraordinary, friendly staff.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

In five years, I hope to have successfully graduated from graduate school. Also, I see myself working in a nonprofit organization that focuses on human rights in both the United States and Latin America. I want to be an advocate and assist people who are going through their immigration process. I recognize there are many people who come to the United States and are exploited for their labor. In five years, I see myself working on movements that enforce human rights of all people who work in the United States and Latin America