Student Testimonials

B.A in Anthropology/ Latin American Studies, B.A in Spanish
I was introduced to the Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) program during my freshman year by Veronikha Salazar who was working for the University of Arkansas Multicultural Center at the time. I had already decided to study Anthropology and Spanish and LALS seemed like the best program to unite my two areas of study. As a U.S born and raised daughter of Mexican immigrants, I learned from a young age that if I wanted to learn about my heritage and culture, I was going to have to do it on my own. I was in shock on my first day in “Intro to Latin America”, when I saw so many students wanting to learn about my heritage and culture as well. I loved my studies so much, that even my electives were overbooked with LALS courses! I made many friends from different countries and even met a long-distant cousin I had no idea I had!

While I learned more about other beautiful cultures in Latin America, I was able to use my knowledge more extensively outside of the classroom, among the communities in Northwest Arkansas. With such a fast growing Latino population here, it is hard to ignore the fact that sometimes to relate to someone you have to know where they come from, their history.

I now work for Arkansas United Community Coalition, which is a non-profit organization created to empower immigrants through organizing, civic engagement, and navigation of legal services. I see people come in everyday from different nations, and I love that I can help them with their immigration cases based on the history I know from each country and their foreign immigration treaties. I can joke around about the cultural differences of our heritage and make them feel at home when I tell them an anecdote about my studies in regards to their homeland. The LALS program has impacted my life greatly, and if it was not for those professors, I probably would not be where I am now.

I was first interested in Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) when I took a comparative politics class with Dr. Jeffrey Ryan to see if International Relations (IREL) was right for me. Dr. Ryan's presentation of the course material, specifically the section on Latin America, was captivating and a narrative that I had not heard before. After completing his class, I switched my major to IREL with an emphasis on Latin America. Shortly after my study abroad in Santiago, Chile I added LALS as another major. I focused primarily on politics and sociology, completing my honors thesis on the historical political roots of the Chilean student movement and its relation to economic neoliberalism and the social imaginary within the country. However, I took a number of engaging courses that centered on immigration and the historical relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. My hope was to continue exploring the different issues at play within the countries of Central America and to be a part of progressive policy making that works to address them. My studies at the UA gave me an interdisciplinary understanding of politics and world affairs, which has pushed me to be much more skeptical and to consider issues from every angle. I believe that the LALS program instilled me with a passion for research and awareness about the depth of world issues. Once you start digging you begin to realize that every issue is multifaceted and spans a variety of disciplines--especially when it comes to international relations. The greatest asset at the UA has been, and continues to be, the amazing professors. There were a number of professors who not only inspired me, but also to this day provide me with great advice as I begin post-graduate life.

Following my time at the University of Arkansas, I took an internship with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), which was a great experience. The director and senior research fellows of the organization really push you to challenge your own assumptions about Latin America and the international community as a whole. The internship at COHA is very self-motivated, but gives interns the opportunity to take on responsibilities within the office as well as the chance to be published. I was lucky enough to be able to take on a leadership/editorial role within the office, gaining a lot of experience in not only writing and editing but administration and production as well. While there, I had the chance to make some great contacts and talk with some of the leading figures from the region. We hosted a number of small, but meaningful, meetings with state diplomats from Venezuela, Chile, and Paraguay. All said, the experience was unique and formative, and anyone looking to get involved in international policy (or any field) would do well to spend some time in Washington. The University of Arkansas has an alumni chapter in the DC area that is always looking to help Arkansas alumni network and get their careers started. The COHA application is fairly standard (Cover letter, 2 letters of recommendation and a writing sample), but anyone looking to apply should continue reading and writing about the region and international affairs in general, having a solid base of information about Latin America will be key. Anyone who is interested in interning at COHA should visit their website.

Aaron Moulton received a Bachelor's in Arts at the University of Arkansas in 2007 in Spanish, Latin American Studies, and Mathematics with minors in Political Science and History. Aaron then attended the University of Kansas and earned a Master's in Arts in Latin American Studies in 2009 and completed his Master's Thesis, "Through the Lens of Pater-Americanism: A Comparative Analysis of the Eisenhower Administration's Perception of Guatemala and Bolivia, 1953 and 1954." Returning to the University of Arkansas, he now pursues a Doctorate in History. Expanding his scholarship on the history of US-Latin American relations, Aaron's research includes the further investigation of US policy toward the reformist Guatemalan and Bolivian governments in the early years of the Cold War as well as US policy toward 'neutral' and nationalist Latin American governments.

Jessica graduated in August 2007 with a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies. During her time at the U of A, she had the opportunity to study abroad both in Mexico and in Spain. These experiences coupled with the lessons she learned during her undergraduate classes inspired her to enter the U of A's Masters of Arts in Teaching program. Jessica graduated in 2008 with a M.A.T. in foreign language education. She currently teaches Spanish 1, Native Spanish 1, cheer, and pom at Rogers High School and Crossroads Alternative High School in Rogers, AR. She is also a sponsor of the Hispanic Leadership Team at RHS. Since her time in college, she has traveled to about fifteen different countries.

I began taking LALS coursework as part of my anthropology degree and I quickly fell in love with the discipline.  I switched from taking French to taking Spanish as a result of this discovered love.  My ANTH, LALS, and SPAN coursework prompted me to study abroad as well as conduct my thesis research abroad with the guidance of Dr. Erickson.  These experiences allowed me the opportunity to discover the benefits of bilingualism as well as what having amazing teachers can do for your academic / career path.  This is in large part what prompted me to return abroad as a teacher after graduation.  My work with the UN Development Program, English Opens Doors, convinced me of the impact that I could have as a bilingual educator.  It is for this reason that, upon my return to the United States, I pursued a position with Teach for America.  I was selected by this rigorous program because, not only was I bilingual, I also had demonstrated my willingness to truly seek  to understand the people and the culture that I would be teaching. Without my LALS background and my abroad experiences afforded me through that program of study, I do not know that I would have been selected to teach a 2nd grade self-contained dual language classroom.  Each and everyday, I must employ the knowledge gained through my studies and experiences in interacting with family members of my students, teaching different dialects of the incredible Spanish language, discussing and participating in differing customs,  and navigating the emotions stirred by educational and immigration policy that effects my students and their families.  

Meghann graduated from the U of A in May of 2008 with a BA in Anthropology, Spanish, and Latin American Studies. She completed a TEFL certification course in Cusco, Peru the following September and remained in Cusco to teach English for the better part of a year. Meghann currently lives in Denver, CO where she is working as a substitute Spanish teacher at a middle school. Her classroom experiences at the U of A, studying abroad in Mexico, and teaching in Peru fostered her love for languages and educating. She is pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching with an emphasis in linguistically and culturally diverse education at the University of Colorado at Denver.

Upon completion of four years on active duty in the United States Air Force, Emile began a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and Latin American studies at the U of A. As an undergraduate, he studied international relations and Portuguese language at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo for a year under the Department of Defense-funded NSEP David L. Boren Scholarship and also studied business and economics for a summer in Rio de Janeiro with a scholarship from the Walton College of Business. Upon completion of his BA Emile won the Tillman Military Scholarship in 2009 to do a Master of Arts degree in political science also at the U of A. While in the MA program he worked as a Graduate Assistant (GA) for the U of A's Latin American and Latino Studies Program for the first year and as an international trade development intern at the Arkansas World Trade Center (ARWTC) for the second year. While at the ARWTC, he participated in a trade mission to Panama and Colombia in fall, 2010. Emile completed his MA in spring, 2011 and is now the Export Sales Manager for Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East at Brunner & Lay – a major mining and construction tool manufacturer based in Springdale, Arkansas.

After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies in 2007, Nathan attended the University of Arkansas School of Law. During his final year, Nathan worked as a student attorney and coordinator at the law school's immigration clinic representing clients in need of immigration assistance under the supervision of a licensed immigration attorney. After graduating in 2010, Nathan began work as an immigration attorney in the Northwest Arkansas area and helped found the immigration website, Nathan's participation in the Latin American Studies program helped prepare him for a career where the vast majority of those he serves come from a Latin American and Spanish language background, and where he is able to view his field of study impact the real world every day.

Renata Shelton is a Master’s student of the Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies Program and Graduate Assistant of Latin American and Latino Studies Program at the University of Arkansas. She double majored at the University of Arkansas in Spanish and Anthropology and minored in Latin American and Latino Studies as an undergraduate student. She received an Honor's College Study Abroad Grant to study at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, and live with an Argentine family. After completing her Honor's Thesis, "A Dental Topographic Analysis of Alouatta palliata and Cebus apella Using Geographic Information Systems," and working in the Anthropology lab with monkey dental molds, she went back to Argentina and studied Cebus apella in Argentina's rain forest as a Field Research Manager at the Centro de Investigaciones Ecológicas Subtropicales in Iguazú Falls National Park. These experiences engaged and solidified her language and cultural interests in unexpected ways, creating new perspectives and understanding. She returned to serve as an interpreter/translator in Springdale with AmeriCorps for two years and as the ESL Outreach Coordinator for the Legal Aid of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She currently studies language forms in ancient Mesoamerican manuscripts, cartography, and mapping mechanisms in Spanish literature.  She hopes to work for UNESCO and continue Latin American geographic and cultural research at a Max Planck Institute.

The UA Spanish and Latin American Studies departments helped Stephen prepare for service at a local non-profit law firm where he worked with Spanish-speaking clients on issues as varied as domestic violence, landlord-tenant issues, and tax clinic services. After graduating in 2008 and working in India and Arkansas, he moved to Argentina to serve as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. Upon returning to Arkansas he plans to work at a legal aid clinic until going to law school, and eventually, on to politics.

After double majoring in Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Arkansas, Theresa began pursuit of a graduate degree in Spanish at Temple University in fall of 2007. Her work at the University of Arkansas helped her win a prestigious fellowship at Temple which granted her two years of financial support without teaching or research. In the fall of 2009, she began the teaching portion of her commitment, teaching beginning level Spanish courses at Temple. Theresa completed a Master's degree and PhD. Theresa says that in addition to helping her with the Presidential Fellowship at Temple, her studies at the University of Arkansas were invaluable to language learning because they gave her the opportunity to study abroad in two different countries which enhanced her foreign language ability and enriched her understanding of two very different Spanish cultures (Spain and Argentina). Thus, her time at the University of Arkansas was essential to allowing her to pursue the career goal of becoming a university-level Spanish professor, which she is currently at the University of Arkansas  for Medical Sciences (UAMS).