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MALAS Student Profile: Melissa Leonard

2014-2015 reveals an enthusiastic cohort of MALAS students with eclectic backgrounds and interests. Among these students is Melissa Leonard (MALAS '16), whose concentrations are in History and Human Rights.

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Melissa received her bachelor's degree from the University of California, Davis in International Relations with concentrations in environment, health, and natural resources in Latin America. She received her minor in history, with emphasis in Latin American social revolutions and human rights. She chose to pursue a MALAS degree at the University of New Mexico (UNM) with concentrations in History and Human Rights because of its involved academic community, the support of the Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII), and her shared research interests with various faculty members.

Melissa's interest in Latin America began with Spanish and Latin American Studies courses taken throughout high school and college. She developed a deep interest in Quechua and Aymara populations in Peru and Bolivia, immigration reform, and labor movements, and intends to expand her studies on these subjects. Though she has not yet had the opportunity to study or work abroad, she hopes to travel extensively throughout Latin America both during graduate school and after the completion of her degree.

As of Spring 2015, Melissa looks forward to presenting her research on femicide in Guatemala at the University of Texas, Austin, and her research on female labor movements in Chile at Indiana University. In her duties as a graduate assistant at the LAII, Melissa works as the coordinator for the Student Organization for Latin American Studies (SOLAS). She schedules a monthly lecture series, maintains and edits the SOLAS website, and helps coordinate the Sin Fronteras Film Festival, held annually during the Spring semester. Following the completion of her degree, she hopes to work in public policy affecting immigration reform, indigenous rights, and sustainability. Eventually, she intends to obtain a J.D. in either indigenous or immigration law.

To learn more about other current MALAS students, read all of our student profiles.

Image: Photograph of Melissa Leonard at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Reprinted with permission.

--Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2015.