Research team members Elena Calderone, Haley Conde and Isabel Delaney conducted professional interviews with stakeholders linked to Latin American art and the University. This is part of an ongoing project to transform the walls of campuses nationwide. In March 2021 Haley Conde and Regina Root co-presented preliminary findings to the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies at a conference on “Life, Struggle and Expression in Uncertain Times” at the College of New Jersey. They have also co-authored an article titled “Roser Bru, Human Rights and the University”. Other students have engaged other facets of this initiative over time so stay tuned!
Category: Alumni Updates: Hispanic Studies
This year’s MLL Outstanding Achievement Award in Hispanic Studies is awarded to Max Minogue and Beau Nardo. This award acknowledges an outstanding graduating Hispanic Studies major with a strong record of achievements in the program.
Max has been a Teaching Assistant in the Hispanic Studies program and also studies Portuguese and Italian. After completing our Human Rights-oriented study abroad program in La Plata Argentina, Max has been recruited over several semesters to work with Profs. Tandeciarz and Konefal in the most selective and coveted W&M internship with the National Security Archive, during which time Max helped analyze declassified material related precisely to the military dictatorships in Argentina.
Max says, “I’m so grateful to receive this award after having already gotten so much from Modern Languages and specifically the Hispanic Studies department. No tengo palabras ni en inglés ni en español para expresar mi gratitud.” Max plans to teach English abroad for several years after graduating.
After graduating, Beau begins a graduate program in the fall at La Universidad Carlos III de Madrid working towards a Máster en Geopolítica y Estudios Estratégicos (Master in Geopolitics and Strategic Studies). There, he hopes to find employment in the field of diplomacy and international relations.
Beau has commented, “I am truly humbled that such an esteemed group of professors would choose me for this honor… I am still trying to find the words that will express my full gratitude to the HISP Department.
Hispanic Studies is grateful for the contributions of students like Max and Beau. We thank you for everything you have put into your studies and our program!
The Howard M. Fraser Award has been awarded to Caroline Brown and Cristina Sherer. The award is in memory of Prof. Howard Fraser, a distinguished specialist in Latin American Literature and culture and is given to a graduating Hispanic Studies major who has made significant achievements in research and service.
Caroline says, “I was truly honored to be selected for this award and I’m very grateful for it.” The photo of Caroline is from her semester abroad in La Plata. It was taken on a weekend hiking trip to El Calafate, to which she traveled with her dear friend and fellow Hispanic Studies major Hailey Ramsey (Class of 2019). Caroline plans on getting her master’s in ESL at UVA. After certified to teach K-6 general education K-12 ESL, she will pursue opportunities teaching in elementary school in either a general education or ESL.
A diligent and passionate student, Cristina completed an Honors Thesis that examined the recognition and use of inclusive language among Spanish speakers. Her research culminated in recommendations about implementing inclusive language for our own Hispanic Studies program. Cristina will begin a graduate program in ESL & Bilingual Education at the W&M School of Education in June. She would like to be certified both ESL and Spanish at stay in the Virginia area to teach after her one-year program of study. Cristina gives her “profuse thanks to the department for [her] many opportunities to do the work.”
Hispanic Studies is so proud of Cristina and Caroline’s work. Congratulations!
The Merritt Cox Award has been awarded to Julia Tripodi and Mackenzie Krol.
This award commemorates Prof. Merritt Cox, a distinguished specialist in 18th century Spain. It is awarded to a graduating Hispanic Studies major who has achieved an outstanding level of academic excellence in Hispanic Studies, and will pursue a graduate degree in the field. Julia is interested in teaching ESL and Spanish in the future.
Professor Cate-Aries recounts, “I remember with pride Julia’s field research project conducted while studying with our summer program in Cádiz, Spain. Because of her interest in educational issues related to equity for all students, teachers’ rights, and social activism, she chose to research current street protests in Spain related to citizens’ response to unpopular government measures to eliminate teaching positions in public education, increase work hours and the student-teacher ratio. She chose as her case study the group Marea Verde (The Green Tide), a nation-wide coalition comprised by educators, parents, and community members who champion quality public education against increasing cuts that compromise local and regional educational objectives. She not only was able to observe a massive demonstration in Cádiz in May 2019. She was able to ground her study of teachers’ complaints and activism within a larger context of the robust social movements more broadly in 21stcentury Spain. Her own future as a classroom teacher, after pursuing a Master’s degree at UVA in the fall, is incredibly promising.”
Mackenzie will be attending Wake Forest University in the fall for an MA. She says, “I feel extremely honored to receive this award. I am excited to pursue my masters in Translation and Interpreting Studies, and am grateful to have support from the WM Hispanic Studies Department!
Prof. Cate-Aries recalls, “I remember her final class project with particular admiration. She had access to a rare mimeographed archival document entitled “Cursillo de Capacitación Social”, a November 1966 training and educational manual for indigenous activists in the rural, indigenous community of Malacatancito, Guatemala. Mackenzie thoroughly researched the place of these widespread “cursillos/mini-courses” in the origins of the Latin American liberation theology movement, citing the 1966 document’s genesis in the climate of Vatican II (1962-1965) and the ongoing Latin American Catholic Church debates that spawned the Latin American Episcopal Council’s (CELAM) manifestos. Mackenzie’s translation provides historians and cultural studies practitioners a valuable primary text that succinctly overviews the most pressing socio-economic concerns—like homelessness, lack of health care, illiteracy rates, the necessity for more equitable agrarian land reform—that face marginalized communities and the faith groups who are committed to serving them. It was a top-notch piece of translation research.”
Congratulations, Mackenzie and Julia, for all your hard work!
The largest government-to-government declassification project in US history began under U.S. President Barack Obama in March 2016 and was continued by President Donald J. Trump. But W&M students and faculty had been engaged in related archival work on campus, in Washington, D.C., and in Argentina for over a decade under Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies Silvia Tandeciarz, Associate Professor of History and Latin American Studies Betsy Konefal, and National Security Archive analyst Carlos Osorio.
Throughout that time, students interning with the National Security Archive in D.C. or participating in W&M’s La Plata study-abroad program have sifted through both U.S. and Argentinian documents to learn more about what happened in Argentina during the dictatorship and what role the U.S. may have played. The Argentinian government has already used some of that work in its prosecution of accused perpetrators of human rights abuses. This latest publication offers insight into what the US government knew about the coming coup–the story of a coup foretold. The publication was covered in all the main news outlets in Argentina and was paired with a Briefing Book published on the NSArchive website the day prior to the 45th anniversary of the coup.
You can find more information on our Study Abroad program in La Plata here, and a heartfelt testimony from a participating student here.
Other stories about the W&M internship with the National Security Archive can be found here.
Alexandra Wingate (Class of 2018), Hispanic Studies and Linguistics double major, is beginning her second semester of an MLS degree at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) and recently finish an MA at the Institute of English Studies, University of London. Alex is considering continuing her education with a PhD in Information Science.
In December, Alex’s MA thesis, entitled“Prosigue la librería”: Understanding late seventeenth-century Navarrese Book Culture through Lorenzo Coroneu’s Bookstore’, won the Royal Historical Society’s Rees Davies Prize, a high honor and award for the best Master’s dissertation in a UK university. (She has a website for the data for this thesis: https://sites.google.com/view/lorenzocoroneu). Further, she will have the opportunity to publish in the Royal Historical Society’s journal based on her dissertation research. In Alex’s words: “The experience of writing a senior honors thesis under the supervision of Prof. Jorge Terukina on private libraries in early modern Navarre was the perfect preparation for my Master’s dissertation both in terms of writing and research. I learned from my mistakes and my successes, and I even incorporated data and conclusions from my honors thesis to support my conclusions about Lorenzo Coroneu’s clientele and business practices.” The judges comments on her award-winning work can be found at: http://blog.royalhistsoc.org/2020/07/22/2020-rhs-award-winners/ . And the awards ceremony can be viewed here (Alex appears at about 7:45): http://blog.royalhistsoc.org/rhs-awards-2020/.
Alex is now thinking about two additional research projects that she would like to publish on. The first is analyzes the decoration of the British Library Manuscript Add. MS 20787, the earliest surviving manuscript of Alfonso X’s Primera Partida of the Siete Partidas. The second is compares the 1575 and 1594 Spanish editions of Juan Huarte de San Juan’s Examen de Ingenios to the two sets of English translations printed in the 16th and 17th centuries and how those two translations use different textual and bibliographic strategies to translate Huarte’s text for an English audience. The idea for this second project came out of three courses offered in the Hispanic Studies Program: Nature & Empire with Prof. Terukina in which students read the Examen de Ingenios (Nature & Empire), another with Prof. Terukina in which students compared different editions and translations of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas’ Brevísima Relación de la Destrucción de las Indias (1552), and a translation course with Prof. Jonathan Arries.
In addition to these achievements since graduation, Alex has started a new student group at IU called Society for Rare Books & Manuscripts at Indiana University (SRBM@IU) with some of the other student librarians. She said, “We felt that there was a gap in the current student librarian groups and so wanted to found a group dedicated to rare books and manuscripts librarianship and book history. Because of the ongoing pandemic, we are going to be organizing virtual events like a book history reading group and presentations by members and outside speakers.” (Follow these events here: https://srbmatiu.wordpress.com/.)
Finally, Alex is working as a Research Assistant and Text Encoding Analyst for the Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project at IU. “As part of this project, I look for Newton’s citations to outside sources in his alchemical manuscripts. My job is to track these citations to the exact edition Newton was using and then encode this information in our TEI XML transcriptions of Newton’s alchemical manuscripts. But this isn’t always easy since Newton’s citations don’t always have page numbers, and sometimes two editions have the exact same material on the same pages making it impossible to narrow it down to one edition!” Her favorite contribution to the project so far has been re-writing the team’s encoding guidelines for Newton’s citations to deal with the ambiguity present in many of his citations. She says, “It was a question of striking a balance between how certain we can be about the source of a given citation and also providing readers with as much information about Newton’s sources as possible.” (Here’s a link to that project: https://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/newton/.)
In this inaugural piece in our new Hispanic Studies series for Global Voices—“Spotlight on Alumni Careers and the Hispanic Studies Major”, we profile five of our alumni from graduating classes spanning an almost two decade period. All alumni are either practicing medical doctors, medical school students, or W&M graduates accepted into med school. All share reflections about the relevance and significance of their education and training as Hispanic Studies major, in terms of preparation for medical school and the practice of medicine more generally.
William & Mary Class of 2020
UVA School of Medicine Class of 2024
Being a pre-med, I was often asked why I was so masochistic to take up a major in Hispanic Studies on top of my primary major in Neuroscience. In truth, my time in Hispanic Studies was anything but painful. Rather, I feel like all of my best college experiences came as a result of my involvement in the Hispanic Studies program, from studying jazz-flamenco music while abroad in Cádiz, Spain, to working as a medical interpreter on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. To me, pursuing this degree was never a distraction from my pre-med studies, but rather a unique way to pursue my interests that I believe made me a much stronger medical school applicant than I would have been otherwise. The type of student that med schools look for is exactly what my Hispanic Studies education helped me to become: a student who is unique and will contribute to community diversity, who understands the issues impacting inequality of care, and who has compassion for all people. When I worked as a Spanish-speaking medical interpreter, it was important to understand the systemic problems preventing non-English speakers from receiving healthcare in order to be an advocate for those patients when the system treats them unfairly.
In general, I feel like I gained a significant amount of confidence as this course of study made me come to terms with new situations. These include taking solo trips to jazz performances while studying abroad, thinking on my feet to communicate with individuals who spoke unfamiliar dialects while I was interpreting, and most recently, travelling to Cuba just out of my own personal interest. I cannot imagine what my education would have been like without this degree. Everything I learned from my Neuroscience major I will eventually be taught again, but the way that Hispanic Studies has introduced me to other perspectives, improved my interpersonal skills, and strengthened my moral convictions will never be replaced. Granted, my double-major might have made me a little busier than I would have been otherwise, but I’m sure it only served to better prepare me for the *actually* busy times, which are yet to come.
Maren Leibowitz, MD
William &Mary Class of 2015
University of Virginia School of Medicine Class of 2019
Emergency Medicine Resident at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL
It has never been more apparent how crucial my major in Hispanic Studies has been to my development as a doctor than during the 2020 COVID-9 pandemic. As an emergency medicine resident physician training in downtown Chicago, I interact with Spanish-speaking patients and their families every day. In non-pandemic times, navigating fears and complex medical situations in English is hard; navigating those same thoughts and feelings in Spanish is even harder. Add in the uncertainty of a pandemic when family members are not allowed to accompany their loved ones into the hospital, the task seems almost impossible. My Hispanic Studies classes and experiences at William & Mary gave me the confidence to speak Spanish knowing that I am understood by my patients and equipped me with the knowledge and tools to practice culturally humble and sensitive medicine. I am also a firm believer that having a broad set of interests leads to a more balanced physician. With my Hispanic Studies background, I sought out opportunities in medical school to get involved with my local Latino community and currently am working on building culturally relevant education platforms for training physicians. Who I am becoming as a doctor is in large part due to my choice to pursue a Hispanic Studies major at W&M. It has provided me much needed skills and perspectives that I am thankful to have every day I step into the hospital.
Ethan Pearlstein, MD
William and Mary Class of 2015
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Rutgers University, Class of 2019, with Distinction in Global Health
Resident Physician, Internal Medicine, Brown University in Providence, RI
Often, college students interested in pursuing a career in medicine are advised and feel compelled to pursue an academic major in the sciences in preparation for medical school. While completion of all necessary pre-medical requirements is essential, in our increasingly diverse society, a Hispanic Studies degree educates students in cultural competencies and Spanish fluency. Such training prepares extremely strong medical school applicants. In a sea of applications from chemistry and biology majors, I feel that my Hispanic Studies background and senior honors thesis on the political abuse of psychiatry in Spain set me apart. On medical school and residency interviews, my Hispanic Studies research and fluency in Spanish were the focus of conversation. The fact that I did not major in the sciences was never even discussed. The pre-medical requirements at William and Mary provided me with a strong foundation to succeed in medical school without the need for a science major.
On the hospital floors in medical school and residency, I was actively sought out by my supervising physicians to interpret for Spanish speaking patients, or to help them better understand the cultural practices of our diverse patient population. While in medical school, I was able to take part in a local free clinic for the underserved and volunteered as both a Spanish interpreter and student doctor for our patients. Often, medical students and fellow residents express to me their regret that they did not seriously consider a major in foreign language. Simply put, my decision to pursue a major in Hispanic Studies is among my best career decisions to date. It certainly gave me an edge when applying for medical school and residency, offering a skillset to these programs that many other students and residents do not have. It allows me to communicate on a daily basis with an entire patient population in their native tongue, helping to alleviate their concerns related to language barriers and picking up cues that are often lost in translation. I am indebted to the Hispanic Studies program at William and Mary, and urge all pre-medical students to strongly consider a major in Hispanic Studies, if interested.
Jennifer Primegga, MD
William &Mary Class of 2002
Eastern Virginia Medical School Class of 2006
Infectious Disease Physician, Virginia Hospital Center
As an infectious disease physician at a suburban hospital near Washington DC, I apply the skills I learned from my Hispanic Studies degree on a daily basis. I recently met a 58-year-old Spanish speaking male named MGL. He presented with months of progressive back pain. He was scared and his daughters were worried. He did not like to see doctors and had received no formal medical care in years. MRI of the lumbar spine revealed osteomyelitis, discitis and an epidural abscess. An echocardiogram of the heart showed endocarditis and a brain MRI showed multiple brain abscess. Usually with such severe infection, patients present with fevers, yet he did not. I was able to speak with him directly in Spanish (rather than through an interpreter phone) and gain his trust. He revealed that he had self-medicated with various antibiotics purchased without a prescription at a local “Tienda Latina.” His antibiotic use masked a classic presentation of his symptoms, which led to a delay in diagnosis. After multiple surgeries and weeks of antibiotics, he improved. I have continued to care for him over the last few months and have workeded with his daughters to coordinate all aspects of his care, from intravenous antibiotics, to follow-up imaging, to compliance with medical therapy. Direct communication and “cultural competency” were important in caring for this patient.
Today, I diagnose and manage many infectious diseases commonly encountered in the Latino communities in the United States. Understanding cultural practices is key to understanding risk factors for disease. Latin America has high rates of tuberculosis. Consumption of food contaminated with pork tape worm leads to neurocysticercosis, the most common cause of seizures in Latino immigrants. Many Latinos are accustomed to self-treating because most pharmaceuticals are available without a prescription in their home countries. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics has led to exceedingly high rates of multidrug resistant bacterial infection in this population. Most recently though, the majority of the patients I see have novel coronavirus, which has disproportionally affected the Hispanic population. My hospital typically sees a population that is 20% Hispanic, but now 60% of our patients are Hispanic. Though we have telephone translation services, it is difficult for patients to hear translators over the loud sounds of oxygen needed to keep them alive. I am able to speak with these patients in person, manage their disease and assuage their concerns. I am grateful for my training, which has prepared me for this pandemic.
I knew from an early age that I wanted to become a doctor. To devote my life to the practice of medicine was to devote myself to a career of public service. Projections of the population I would encounter reflected a changing demographic. By 2050, 30% of the United States population is predicted to be Hispanic. To best serve the public, I needed to arm myself with the best tools; therefore, I chose to double major in Biology and Hispanic Studies. This decision has prepared me well for the medicine that I practice today.
William & Mary Class of 2017
Harvard Medical School Class of 2021
In early 2000 the medical school accreditation board of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) introduced two new standards for teaching cultural competency in medical education–the first time this requirement had entered the realm of medical teaching. In 2015, the AAMC modified the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to include questions on sociology and psychology in addition to the standard biology, chemistry and physics. Undergraduate pre-med requirements were also changed to reflect this new portion of the MCAT. While medical education has only recognized the need to include the social sciences and humanities over the past twenty years, medicine, since its inception, has and always will be a unique blend of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
Over the past three years at medical school, I have been extremely grateful for the education I received as a Hispanic Studies major. In medicine, I found that knowing the science and the physiology is only half of the task we are asked to do. The other half includes communicating with patients, perceiving the way in which the patient’s social situation or place within society may be impacting their diagnosis, and recognizing cultural and structural factors that may be at play during any interaction. As a Hispanic Studies major proficiency within the social sciences and humanities was expected at the time of graduation, as there existed endless opportunities to hone verbal and written communication skills, critical thinking strategies, theory driven cultural or social analyses, and language acquisition abilities. Before you question this last one’s importance, think about “medicalese”, a whole new language that each medical student must learn upon entering the field! Medicine is both a science and an art. During the fast-paced nature of medical training, there’s very little time to appreciate that art if you haven’t already developed the skills to do so. The skills to appreciate the art of medicine can certainly be acquired through a cultural studies major prior to medical school.
To close, I’d love to point out an experience I would have never had without pursuing the Hispanic Studies major. I had the opportunity to learn about medical interpretation and later use it on the Eastern Shore of Virginia as an interpreter and outreach worker for migrant farmworkers. First, working as a part of the medical team was more valuable than any physician “shadowing” experience prior to medical school. Nightly visits to the camps gave me a more nuanced appreciation for the diagnoses I would later see in the clinic, both then and now, as I still think back to that experience. The farmworkers, through an ancillary project I was conducting, also taught me that, in their opinion, what makes us human is our ability to respect others as human beings. Knowing that I myself may have answered with a colder, potentially more scientific response that perhaps focused on cognition, I was struck by the simplicity and eloquence of the farmworkers’ answers. In medicine, there will always be times that lack clarity; in such moments I have thought back to those responses I heard. Reminding myself that respecting others is what makes us human helps me find my own clarity in such circumstances. Many other majors cannot provide students with a lens to view their future medical practice in quite the same way that Hispanic Studies does. That lens is why I am always confident that I made the best possible decision for a major during my undergraduate studies. My Hispanic Studies major also gave me some of my best friends, the kind who drive all the way up to Boston to celebrate your White Coat Ceremony!
Peter Jones (William & Mary ’19, B.A. Sociology, Hispanic Studies) began a teacher training program with Urban Teachers in Washington D.C. this year. He writes, “Right now I’m working with a residency teacher-training program called Urban Teachers (UT) in Washington D.C. The goal of UT is to train highly effective and culturally competent teachers in hopes of empowering at-risk students and closing racial gaps in access to high-quality education. I currently work with kindergarten at H.D. Cooke Elementary, where students and their families grow up in a culturally diverse setting with people coming in from all around the world- some students’ families have spent most of their lives growing up in DC, while others are coming from around the world, from Ethiopia to Central America. This presents a unique opportunity to find ways in which to bring students together and challenge the way in which they thing about the world around them. One of my favorite examples of this through is our School Enrichment Model (SEM)- students are placed into small clusters based on shared interests, and they work together to explore these interests. In the fall of 2019, for example, I oversaw a SEM cluster of students grades K-2 who focused on recycling and seeing the different ways in which people in DC and around the world reuse and recycle materials. Next year, I will be moving into a English Language Learner teaching position at Cooke, and I am looking forward to continuing my journey from here!”
After graduating from W&M, Ola Pozor (Hispanic Studies & Government double major, Class of 2019) has taken residence in “maravillosa (lluviosa) Galicia”, where she works as an Auxiliar de Conversación (Conversational Partner) for children in grades 2 to 6. She helps in their English, art and physical education classes, where she shares American culture with the children, teaches English class and assists with their project work. She’s also picking up a smidge of Gallego from working and living with trilingual people (Gallego, Spanish, English). Ola reflects on her time at W&M and misses the people. She also has shared that her studies at W&M have helped her understand her world and the people in it from many different perspectives… as well as facilitate navigation in her new home easily (e.g. paying her bills, going to a café with students, reading the local paper, helping out Spanish-speaking tourists and discussing politics with her neighbors)! She said: “apart from taking Spain-specific classes in the Hispanic Studies department, W&M’s study abroad program in Cádiz and my residence in the Hispanic House were particularly enriching foundations for my full immersion into Spanish culture. I thank all my professors for their support and guidance into my successful transition into post-graduate life!”
Lamar Shambley (’10) founded Teens of Color Abroad which helps students of color in high school study abroad. See the full story here.
After graduating in 2017, I moved to Madrid, Spain where I have been working as an English Language Assistant in a public primary school. While it took me a few months to get acclimated to the culture and education system, the experiences, coursework and opportunities I was exposed to at William & Mary gave me a wealth of knowledge that aided in my transition and continue to assist me in and out of the classroom. One class that has been particularly useful was my Spanish Phonetics course. Through learning more about manners of articulation in a Spanish context and comparing them to my own, I am able to make accurate and detailed suggestions to help my students obtain a more native-level pronunciation.
While I hope to stay in Madrid for the time being and perhaps pursue a Masters of Bilingual Education, I also hope to continue my education in the Hispanic Studies field in the future.
As a first year PhD student in Spanish at UNC Chapel Hill, I have been able to apply all of the skills I gained as a Hispanic Studies major to navigate my multifaceted role as a graduate student. More specifically, my roles include reading a list of canonical works of Iberian and Latin American literature to prepare for my comprehensive exams next spring, taking three graduate courses a semester, and teaching accelerated introductory Spanish for undergraduates. Thanks to the wide variety of classes I took as an undergrad, I have already read about a fifth of the required reading list for my comprehensive exams. I was also exposed to a wide variety of teaching styles that have helped shape my own approaches in the classroom. Finally, I have found that my time at William & Mary taught me to write well, apply a broad range of theory, and think using interdisciplinary techniques that have made me successful in my own coursework. The Hispanic Studies Department at William & Mary has given me skills that can be translated into any number of career paths after I graduate, whether in academia, non-profit work, or various of governmental agencies.
I am currently in my second year at Harvard Medical School, where my degree in Hispanic Studies has been more useful than one may imagine during a year of clinical rotations. This year, I have been able to apply my knowledge of medical interpretation and real world experience from interpreting on the Eastern Shore that I gained during my time at the College to give a lecture at the medical school, advising students how they may better interact with interpreters and patients that don’t speak English. I have spoken Spanish with patients and families on a weekly basis, communicating with them on behalf of my team while we await interpreting assistance. And I have been able to apply my knowledge of cultural studies and how cultural representation changes a person’s worldview to better understand immigrant patients and how they perceive their care and diagnoses. I have used my experience with cultural humility from my major to teach a psychiatry department on the nuances of cross-cultural psychiatry. The Hispanic Studies department and my experiences within the department have prepared me to be both a better student and better caretaker this year. I believe that in the future, my time in the department will enrich my career as a physician, whether it be my additional clinical research or the patient population I work with.
(BA Hispanic Studies): After graduating, I ended up getting my MSW from the University of Maryland, and did research with a professor throughout my time there regarding trauma and substance use among the Latino immigrant community in Baltimore. My second year, I interned with a community health clinic in the DC suburbs which served mostly Latino immigrants. The clinic provided primary care medical services in addition to dentistry, maternity care, psychiatry, and case management (help with applying for insurance, housing and food benefits, school and job training programs, etc.) I served as a therapist in the clinic, working with any patients who screened positive on tests for depression, anxiety, trauma/PTSD, and/or substance use. About 75% of the therapy I was doing was in Spanish. At first I was really afraid that my language skills wouldn’t be strong enough and patients would be insulted or confused, but they were all so grateful to have someone who spoke their language and was willing to listen to their stories. I really loved it there, and stayed for about 2 years after graduation. Recently, my husband and I (oh, yeah! I also got married last year!) moved to Charlottesville for me to pursue a different avenue in my career. I am proud to say I have been fully recovered from my eating disorder for several years, and am now working as an eating disorder therapist with a treatment center in Charlottesville to be able to support others going through similar struggles. The work feels so incredibly meaningful, and we’re really enjoying Charlottesville so far! My dog (Luna) loves it too, so much more space here for her to run and much quieter than the city.
This past November 8 – 12, 2017, Professors Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra and Christina Baker traveled to Santo Domingo to attend the annual conference, Asociación Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispánica.
Professor Sanchis-Sinisterra has attended the conference the previous two years, having even been awarded recognition as a doctoral candidate.This year, Professor Sanchis-Sinisterra presented on Thursday, November 9th, 2017 on the topic of Podemos. Her talk, “A nosotras todavía no nos representan: Feminismos en Podemos” discussed the feminist approach of Podemos, the Spanish political party that was born after Spain’s Occupy movement, called “el 15 M.” Podemos embraces a populist feminism which has is many detractors among feminist theorists.
Professor Baker presented on the morning of Friday, November 10th, 2017. Her talk, “Como la flor: Queer Performances of Memory, Mourning and Selena Quintanilla,” was performative in nature, blending her intellectual interests in the world of performance theory with theoretical concepts. She discussed the living memory of slain singer, Selena Quintanilla by recounting her own trips to Corpus Christi, Texas and acts to remember and revive the singer enacted by queer bodies throughout the Southwest.
Professors Sanchis-Sinisterra and Baker also coincided with W & M alumna, Professor Elena Lahr-Vivaz (’96), who just published a phenomenal contribution to Mexican Studies and Film & Media Studies. Her book, Mexican Melodrama: Film and Nation from the Golden Age to the New Wave, was released at the University of Arizona Press in 2016 and she is working on a follow-up book project that explores Cuban identity. Professor Lahr-Vivaz gave a wonderful talk, “Disappearing Acts: Gender and Gaze in ¿Quién diablos es Juliette?” prompting conversation about Mexico-Cuban cinematic relationships and popular culture.
When Professors Sanchis-Sinisterra and Baker were not attending academic talks, the two explored the beautiful colonial zone of Santo Domingo. Walking through the cobblestone streets and museums, the two thought about the connectedness between colonial cities; one the site of Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the New World; the other, Williamsburg, the heart of colonial United States. The two hope to soon return and incorporate cultural lessons learned about the Dominican Republic, its people, literature, music and culture.
*This trip is part of a collaborative teacher-scholar initiative that combines Prof. Sanchis-Sinisterra and Baker’s intellectual work, courses and student research. It was supported by the generous support of Dean Donahue and the Annual Fund.
Allison Corbett (’09) is a Spanish interpreter and oral historian based in New York City. She has worked in Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West as a staff interpreter, and is currently working on The Language of Justice/El lenguaje de la justicia, a multimedia oral history project documenting the stories of language workers and organizers around the US who facilitate multilingual movement-building for social change. You can read more about the project here.
During her time at W&M, Allison wrote an honors thesis under Prof. Arries on “Un modelo de resistencia, un estado neoliberal: Teacher and Student Responses to the Death of Carlos Fuentealba.” She also received the Howard M. Fraser Award in 2009 for the graduating HISP major who has made significant achievements in the area of research and service related to the field of Hispanic Studies.
(BA Hispanic Studies & Linguistics)
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!
(BA Hispanic Studies & International Relations)
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.
(BA Hispanic Studies & Psychology)
Soon after graduating from William and Mary, I spent the summer in Vermont studying 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.
“After leaving W&M in 2005 with a concentration in Hispanic Studies and certification in secondary education, I moved to Philadelphia to start a PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, I met some amazing people and found the environment wonderfully challenging and intellectually stimulating. However, I was no longer certain I wanted to pursue a career in academia, so after earning an MA, I took a leave of absence to explore other options. I decided to stay at Penn, teaching courses as a lecturer, but also dabbled in the nonprofit realm, volunteering at the local arts league. At the close of that academic year, I moved to the Seattle area and began working at a regional office of a medical nonprofit organization, where I coordinated patient and professional education and support programs. I learned a great deal about fundraising, event planning and implementation, and volunteer management, and the job also provided a very helpful introduction to the business world.
“Although that experience was very rewarding, it was difficult living far from my family, so after a few years, I relocated to North Carolina. Soon after that, I started working as a contract editor for American Journal Experts, which is part of a company called Research Square that helps researchers succeed by developing software and services for the global research community. A couple months later, I moved into a managing editor position at the company, and after a couple years in that role, I began managing the newly created Customer Partnership team. I’ve been in that role for almost two years now, and I love everything about it! The members of my team are very smart and empathetic individuals with terminal degrees in their fields who answer customer questions about many different topics, ranging from the author services we provide to how to navigate the complex and rapidly evolving field of scholarly publishing. The majority of our customers are nonnative English speakers aiming to publish their research in English-language journals, and we are able to help them deal with the additional challenges faced by researchers trying to publish outside of their native language. It is a pleasure and an honor to serve our customers and help them succeed as researchers.
“Although I rarely have the opportunity to use Spanish in my daily tasks, I am often able to contribute cultural insights to discussions and projects at work, and I’ve been able to fit in fun trips to Mexico and, most recently, Peru during breaks from work. I feel fortunate to be where I am now and attribute much of my success to the education, training, and support I received in the Hispanic Studies program at W&M.
Nathan Hoback, a HISP alum (’10) who went on to pursue an M.A. with the School of Education at W&M, has recently been distinguished as Matoaca High School Teacher of the Year 2016.
A native of Roanoke, Nathan has been a member of the Matoaca High School faculty for five years, where he currently teaches Spanish 1 and Algebra II. Susan Hester, Chair of the World Languages Department, says, “He is a fantastic teacher! He engages the whole student beyond just the academics; supporting them outside the classroom in the extracurricular activities and cultural events. He is truly a model example of an enthusiastic instructor. It is awesome to have him at Matoaca High School.”
(BA Hispanic Studies & Sociology, 2004): Lauren was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award for the United Kingdom during 2012-2013. You can read more about her experience here. (Updated 2012)
(BA History & Hispanic Studies): Eleonora recently started graduate studies at the University of Virginia. You can read more about her experience here. (Updated 2012)
(BA Hispanic Studies & History) recently spent a year in Spain teaching English at a High School in Madrid with the Cultural Ambassadors Program. You can read more about her experience here. (Updated 2012)
(BA Latin American Studies & History):
On Friday, May 14, 2010 Wm & Mary alumnus Doug Mercado was inducted into the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Mercado graduated in the class of 1985 with a double major in Latin American Studies and History and extensive work in Spanish; he was also a resident in the Spanish House [now the Hispanic House].
Doug Mercado is employed by the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and currently serves as the Humanitarian Affairs Adviser at the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York. He has worked in the field of international disaster assistance and post-conflict recovery for most of the past 19 years on assignments with the United Nations, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He has managed humanitarian relief interventions in over a dozen countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Angola and Eritrea. Doug photographed the conflict in Darfur, Sudan and its impact on civilians and exhibited his work at the ARC Gallery in Chicago in 2006. Aside from his career in international affairs, he served as an officer in the United States Navy and as an editorial assistant at Américas magazine. Doug holds a Master in Public Policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
(BA Hispanic Studies): Before graduation I joined a pharmaceutical consulting company in Williamsburg serving as a translator as part of my practicum. After graduation I was offered a salary and have continued to work as a translator and now an ambassador manager in the global department working with European patients with chronic diseases, as well as a creative writer. I’ve been sent to Brussels, Madrid, San Juan, and other Spanish communities throughout the US.
I will be applying for my MFA in Creative Writing in the Spring to the University of Texas-El Paso. (Updated 2009)
(BA International Relations & Hispanic Studies): Kendra taught high school Spanish with Teach For America in Washington, D.C. for the last two years and found that her Hispanic Studies training was helpful aside from the language skills! She spent a lot of time in her second year working with Hispanic students and helping to make them more comfortable in school. She now works in the Office of the Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools and helps to coordinate the system’s new teacher evaluation program, including all of the evaluations for foreign language teachers. (Updated 2009)
(BA Hispanic Studies):
2006-07: Bilingual paralegal at Brown Goldstein Levy, LLP
2007: Interim Project Director with Students Helping Honduras, 501(c)3
2008: Fulbright ETA Grantee, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina
2009: Campaign Assistant, National Immigration Forum.
Current status: In my first year of law school at American University. Dean’s Fellow at the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.
(BA Hispanic Studies):
Hello, dear professors! I stumbled across this update form a couple weeks ago and wondered if it was too late to share my updates, but decided with Regina’s Facebook reminder today that it’s not! Please feel free to share anything you wish…
I began the University of Pennsylvania’s PhD program in Hispanic Studies in fall 2005 and received a grant to travel to Colombia my first summer, where I spent time exploring the manifestations of violence in the texts of Colombian authors Fernando Vallejo and Jorge Franco. I received my MA in May 2007 and was awarded the outstanding Spanish TA award. I took a break from the PhD program, but stayed at Penn for two semesters teaching intro and intermediate language courses as a full-time lecturer, and made the decision not to return for the PhD in large part due to my diagnosis of indeterminate colitis that year.
My dog and I moved to Redmond, WA, to join my then-fiancé, and several months later I began employment as the Education & Support Manager for the Northwest Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (covers WA, OR, ID, MT & AK). That position entails many jobs, including coordinating all patient and professional education (patient conferences, medical talks, chapter medical advisory committee meetings & grant-writing to fund them), support programs (support groups, a one-to-one phone support program & youth activities), and perhaps most importantly, NW Camp Oasis, the weeklong summer camp our chapter funds for local kids with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. I also have the privilege of working with amazing colleagues and dedicated volunteers, on behalf of inspirational folks with whom I share this disease.
I’m thrilled to be working in the non-profit field, able to combine my love of education with my passion for supporting patients and finding a cure, and I just celebrated my anniversary with CCFA this month! (And I got married in Wren Chapel this past May!)
(BA Hispanic Studies): Graduated in May 2009 from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health with a Master of Public Health in Sexuality and Health. Currently working at International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region in New York City as an Evaluation Coordinator. (Updated: 2009).
(BA Hispanic Studies & English): After college, I spent two years working as an English teacher in Kyoto, Japan. After that, I traveled around quite a bit – around Japan, then spending time in San Francisco, Australia and D.C.. I then got into journalism, working first as a reporter for The Daily Iberian, a newspaper in New Iberia, Louisiana, and now for the Juneau Empire in Juneau, Alaska. (Updated 2009)
(BA Hispanic Studies) I went on to do an MA in Spanish Translation at Rutgers and became a court interpreter. After working for several years in state court in New Jersey, I have been working for four years as a staff court interpreter at the Federal District Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Updated 2009)
Sarah Parks received a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies in 2003, and went on to earn a Master of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2006. She has worked in clinical settings including a community health clinic, a low-income housing community center, private adoption agencies, and the Family Reunification program at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Since moving to Williamsburg in 2010, she has been working with USCCB in a consultant capacity to assist with special projects. Sarah has provided direct services to immigrant children in Virginia and has conducted trainings for social service providers around the country on addressing the needs of immigrant children from a child welfare perspective. Sarah became fluent in Spanish while living in Paraguay as a child and enjoys using her language skills to bridge service gaps for the Latino community in the US. (Updated 04/2014)
Maybelline Mendoza is a 2007 undergraduate alum that double-majored in Hispanic Studies and Business Marketing. Maybelline has worked for a higher education magazine, but has spent the majority of her career in the beauty industry, as a part of the MaybellineNY*Garnier products’ division team, where she held increasing responsibilities in Sales and Marketing. One of her major projects while a part of L’Oreal, was to launch a marketing initiative, targeting the US Hispanic consumer! After 5 years of professional work experience, Maybelline decided to join us again in Williamsburg to pursue her MBA, and is excited to soon be a double WM graduate, this May. Beginning in July, she’ll be joining Coca-Cola, as 1 of 5 MBA students selected for a rotational Business Leadership Program, based in Atlanta, GA. (Updated 04/2014)
Ben Boone graduated from the Hispanic Studies program in 2007, taking mostly courses in Latin American culture. He went directly into the Master’s program in Higher Education Administration at the School of Education. Concurrent to enrolling in the Higher Education program, Ben helped develop a non-profit that works with children in Managua, Nicaragua to provide educational opportunities and employment training with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty for the families. The program started in 2008 with 10 children, and in 2014 VISEDAL has 31 students enrolled, including two who are in college. Currently Ben works in the Dean of Students Office coordinating Transfer Student and Enrollment Support Services. He is pursuing his Ph.D. in Higher Education, with a focus on the impact of the internationalization of higher education on faculty careers. (Updated 04/2014)
Hispanic Studies major Leksa Pravdic (’12) is one of only nine W&M 2012 graduates to receive a prestigious Fulbright US Student Grant. During 2012-2013, Leksa will act as an English Teaching Assistant in Serbia. You can read the full featured story here.
Immigrated to Australia in 2004. Currently working as an R & D chemist for a scientific instrumentation company. Missed homecoming this year, but had a great time last year when I attended with my wife ( class of 1989)
(BA Hispanic Studies & International Relations): I graduated from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in May ’10 and was admitted to practice law in Indiana on October 15th. I work at a law firm near my home town and am currently applying to the Illinois bar so that I can be licensed in both states. I worked for a migrant farmworker legal project during law school and have already had several opportunities to use Spanish in my practice. In a few months I’ll be Patricia R. Hass! (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish & Government): Enjoying living in Austin, Texas with my husband Eric, my 4 year old son, Will and our black lab Jake. I’m afraid my Spanish has been limited to foreign films as of late, but we did have our son in a bilingual co-operative preschool for some time, so I had some chance to learn “kid” vocabulary I hadn’t at W&M (slide, swings, etc). (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish): I’ve opened my own solo legal practice in Arlington Virginia, focused on guardian ad litem work for children and criminal defense work (mostly court appointed) for Spanish speaking immigrants. (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish/Government): My family was recently profiled here:
http://www.holycrosshealth.org/newsletters_story_pregnancy.htm (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish): I’m currently getting my Spanish licenciatura here at the University of Valencia. I’ve lived in Valencia for 12 years and would love to help any W&M students who are here and need an American contact. (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish) I received my Ph.D. in Spanish literature from Catholic University this May. I am working as an assistant professor of Spanish at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. I hope to join you at Homecoming another year. (Updated 2010)
(BS Biology and Hispanic Studies): I’m in the process of applying to graduate school for Latin American Studies and planning on going to Brazil in January for six months. (Updated 2010)
[Story by Soyoung Hwang ’11 and David Williard;
March 17, 2010; http://www.wm.edu/as/news/2010/hibbs_10.php]
Kate Hibbs ’10 knew the many lessons of service before going to the Eastern Shore to serve as a migrant-health outreach worker last summer. Her experience as a stand-out Sharpe community scholar at the College prepared her academically; her experience serving migrant needs in Chicago gave her on-the-ground experience. Still, she felt she stumbled.
“If you’re not aware of your privilege, your service is patronizing,” she said.
Hibbs worked with pregnant women within the migrant community through an internship with Rural Family Development, one of two Eastern Shore agencies that maintains a memorandum of understanding with the Hispanic Studies department at William & Mary. Her primary tasks were to counsel women about pre-natal health practices and to help ensure their access to the medical resources available to them
Hibbs found that the need to acknowledge her own privilege relative to those she was serving became a theme underlying her work. Unknown to her at first, most of the women with whom she would work were from rural, southern Mexico and identified as part of an indigenous culture rather than as “Mexican.” Tensions arose due to the language barrier.
“We’re speaking Spanish with each other as our second language, so naturally there’s communication breakdown. … It’s hard to establish that legitimacy and trust,” Hibbs said.
Hibbs is the first to admit she was “not an expert in pregnancy,” and so being in a situation where she had come in as an “expert” to educate this woman forced her to evaluate her position in relation to that of the pregnant woman.
“I didn’t realize that my command of Spanish was better than hers, and, for her, that’s intimidating because, as an American, I represent the oppressor. … I’m in this privileged position,” Hibbs explained.
Despite what she calls her “folly and rudeness” in going into the woman’s home unprepared for this challenge, Hibbs found an effective way to bridge the gap by asking the pregnant woman to teach her some “Misteko,” the indigenous dialect.
“My interest in her culture, in her background, was huge because not even people from her country take an interest in her culture, and so to have someone do that is not only novel, but for her incredibly empowering,” Hibbs said. “That I teach her and she can teach me is empowering for her and humbling for myself. It’s not just understanding their perspective; it’s truly identifying with their needs.”
Hibbs’ ability to pro-actively navigate those tensions resonates with her faculty advisor, Jonathan Arries, associate professor of Hispanic Studies at William & Mary. “She is an amazing student and an incredible person,” Arries said. “The character of Kate that I keep coming back to is her generosity of spirit. It is the kind of thing we seek to cultivate in the humanities. She is the kind of person on whom you can rely to do what needs to be done, and more. She is a critical thinker who has amazing organizational skills.”
Back on campus, Hibbs continues to nurture the genuine bonds of identity forged with many of the women with whom she worked. She identifies with their struggles to secure health advice and care, as well as with their general struggles to nurture families in situations that seem, at times, unfriendly toward them.
“They call me all the time! I love it,” Hibbs said. “Pregnancy is such an important part of a woman’s life. The fact that I shared it with them, they want to share it with me.”