After a few years of varied, enriching, and meaningful experiences–domestically and abroad–, some of our recent HISP graduates have decided to pursue further studies in their aims of becoming stronger civic-minded individuals, activists for education, critical thinkers who question social asymmetries, and forgers of global relations.
During her time at W&M, Maisoon Fillo (Hispanic Studies & Psychology ’15) studied abroad with our Human Rights program in La Plata, Argentina, and participated as an undergraduate TA in our HISP language classes. As she prepares to attend Tulane University and work toward an MA in Latin American Studies, she describes her experience since graduating as follows:
“Soon after graduating from William and Mary, I spent the summer in Vermont perfecting my Spanish at Middlebury Language Schools. This program not only provided an environment of total language immersion, but exposed the linguistic depth of the Spanish language. Shortly following Middlebury, I spent a semester abroad teaching English in Lima, Peru. This position gave me first-hand insight into educational issues in Latin America, from resource and quality shortcomings, to school systems’ relationships with students and the significance of student’s social background. I was able to work through some of these critical issues following my time abroad as an intern in the Inter-American Dialogue’s Education Program. This branch of IAD aims to improve skill development by forging educational change across Latin America.
“Starting this fall I will begin my MA program in Latin American Studies at Tulane University. I expect to further develop skills that I can use in work that contributes to reforms that acknowledge past injustices and promote governments’ sincere regard for human rights. I believe that Tulane’s program will position me to not only advance skillfully as a student, researcher, and activist, but will guide me as a professional in contributing to social transformation projects in pursuit of human dignity and social justice.
Like in Maisoon’s case, intercultural understanding and global citizenship motivated Sam Boone (Hispanic Studies and International Relations ’15) to seek rich experiences abroad. Before becoming an undergraduate TA for the Hispanic Studies program, Sam spent a summer in Cádiz and a semester in La Plata. While at W&M, Sam enjoyed successful spells as Resident Advisor at the Russian House and the Hispanic House. His commitment to building global bridges has shaped his steps after graduation, as he published an article on the role of the US in the tense Taiwan-China relations, and is about to complete his second year teaching English in China. Sam will head to Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in the fall.
“In many ways I have had an interesting career trajectory. At William & Mary, I double majored in Hispanic Relations and International Relations with the idea that I could get involved with policy decisions in Latin America. My experience with the La Plata program in Argentina had a profound impact of my worldview, as I found that living in a foreign country and stepping outside my comfort zone enabled me to grow personally and academically. My time in Argentina made realize that I wanted to step even further and learn a new language. After my graduation I moved the China, and quickly started studying Chinese and fanatically researching the history and culture of my new home.
“I am surprised and happy to say I will continue my education next year at Johns Hopkins SAIS program with a fellowship for Chinese studies. It almost seems unbelievable since two years ago I didn’t even know how to say 你好 (hello) in Chinese and now I will be doing graduate level courses. It truly demonstrates the unpredictability in life, and how passions can evolve and transform. This opportunity would have been impossible without the skills and knowledge I gained from Hispanic Studies at William & Mary. My classes in the Hispanic Studies department gave me the tools I needed to adapt and analyze Chinese culture. I hope that I can combine my two foreign language studies in graduate school and further investigate China’s growing role in Latin America.
While Maisoon headed to Perú and Sam to China, a semester in Chile was in the horizon for Kristin Giordano (Hispanic Studies & Linguistics ’14) soon after graduating in 2014. Having been an undergraduate TA for the Hispanic Studies program, and after spells in La Plata, Argentina, and in Nicaragua with MANOS, Kristin’s semester teaching English in Chile proved to be a great experience. Upon returning to the US, and being the civic-minded, community-engaged young adult that she is, Kristin carved a path for herself in public health, and even co-authored an article on EMS responses to behavioral health crises. As she prepares to start a Masters in Public Health at Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) under a fellowship, Kristin describes her trajectory as follows:
“Before I graduated in May 2014, I had vague thoughts of traveling the world, or at least having some (any) plans to explain when people inevitably asked what was next for me. When Prof. Terukina mentioned the English Opens Doors Program in Chile to me, I jumped on the opportunity. I loved the six months teaching English in Chile and the family I lived with, yet, when the semester ended, I knew that I wasn’t ready for a full-time job in education. Again directionless (and with loans to start paying off), I moved home.
“I found a job in respite care and then a seasonal job at a summer camp (that I loved). Through a friend, I started volunteering with the Fire Department’s emerging Community & Public Health Division in Colorado Springs, which became a full-time job. Now, I’ve spent two years there, working in a program that connects people who frequently call 9-1-1 with medical, social, and mental health services. Though my volunteer position started as data entry, I ended up writing and winning grants, analyzing program data and designing reports, and even helping to implement a new software program.
“My job’s flexibility meant that I got to do a little bit of a lot of things, but the organization’s focus on partnerships with other agencies meant that I met people across the health sector. Through conversations, conferences and my daily job responsibilities, I learned that I really enjoyed work with upstream health interventions and research-based interventions. I wanted to develop the evaluation skills and knowledge base necessary to help similar programs. After two and a half years of discovering the joys and the frustrations of the working world, I wanted to go back to school.
“My friends, classmates and professors from William & Mary were fundamental parts of my frantic attempts to figure out where I was headed. Between Skype calls with classmates who were in programs I was interested in, and advice and recommendation letters from professors, I crammed my GRE, school research and application submission in to a two month period.
“In September, I’m off to Drexel University in Philadelphia to get my Masters of Public Health, with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention. I was offered a fellowship with their Urban Health Collaborative, which works to synthesize community data and make it available to organizations and individuals who live there, so that they can improve their health and well-being. Where I go from there, I have no idea – so don’t ask – but I’m excited!
The Hispanic Studies program wishes the very best to Maisoon, Sam, and Kristin as they embark in this new chapter in their lives! We are always eager to hear your latest news! You can send us your news and updates here, or just email your former professors!