Agnes graduated from Princeton (2014) with a B.A. in anthropology and a love for Latin America. She studied in Havana, and as an inaugural recruit to Princeton’s Bridge Year Program, worked with a Peruvian NGO to implement its youth education and community development projects. Agnes also has traveled to India to help a local clean cook-stove business improve its last-mile distribution strategy. Since September 2014, she has worked in Managua with the U.S.-based impact investor Global Partnerships, collaborating with its partners on its solar lighting and health initiatives. She is excited to remain with Global Partnerships for another year, where she can learn more about impact investment, perfect her salsa style, consume gallo pinto, and climb Nicaragua’s nine volcanoes.
Alix graduated from Stanford University (2013) with a B.A. in political science, and earned an M.A. in Latin American studies there as well (2014). Has an undergraduate she studied in Madrid, worked for the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., and took part in varsity athletics. She also worked in the Postgraduate Fellowships division of Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service, and was a student advisor for the Stanford in Madrid Overseas Studies Program. Alix’s interest in Latin America stems from a summer she spent volunteering in rural Panama with Learning Enterprises, an English-teaching and cultural exchange nonprofit, which inspired her to delve more deeply into the politics, history, and development of Latin America. She returned to Panama in summer 2013 to direct the program, and did so again in the summer of 2014. She plans to build upon her experiences and interests by working to augment access to quality education across socioeconomic classes in Latin America. Alix will continue to teach at Antigua International School for a second year in 2015–16.
Andrew graduated from Boston College (2014), majoring in biology with an international studies minor, and was a member of the A&S Honors Program. He was selected to join the Emerging Leader Program during his freshman year and the Jenks Leadership Program in his senior year. In the latter, he planned and executed a service project promoting sustainable living on campus. During the fall of his junior year, he studied in Santiago, Chile, and volunteered at a daycare center in a low-income area of the city. Andrew is an Eagle Scout, and he hopes to go into sustainable development work, focusing on biodiversity conservation. He interned at the nonprofit Advocacy Project, which assists community organizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America with grant writing and project planning, to connect with the international donor community. He also interned at the Department of State in the Office of Conservation and Water, where he worked on issues relating to tropical forest conservation.
Breanna is a Southern California native from Los Angeles County. The older of two siblings, she comes from a large extended Mexican-American family. Her grandmother lives in her home, the reason she learned to speak Spanish, and the living link to her family’s cultural heritage. With the support of her family, she gained admission to Yale University, majoring in environmental studies, developing a particular interest in biodiversity conservation law and policy in Brazil. On campus, she was extensively involved with the Latin dance, environmental, and club volleyball groups. While at Yale she also traveled to Peru, Turkey, Spain, Italy, and Mexico. She hopes to contribute to biodiversity conservation law and policy issues in Brazil before heading to graduate school to study environmental policy.
Brian graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University (2014), focusing on international relations and security policy, with certificates in Latin American studies, Spanish language and culture, and French language and culture. Before matriculating at Princeton he was selected for the inaugural class of the university’s Bridge Year Program, spending a year at ProWorld Peru in Urubamba, as a construction projects portfolio volunteer. He and four other Princeton BYP participants created a green-space park in a poor urban community, complete with running water for public restrooms and environmentally friendly messaging and artwork. Other project work included installing ceramic clean-burning stoves, manufacturing and distributing portable water filters, and building a preschool. Subsequently Brian interned at Innovations for Successful Societies, a research group at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School that studies institution building and institutional reform in fragile states. He spent the summer of 2013 as a leadership development intern at the nonprofit Truman National Security Project in Washington, D.C.
Chelsea graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in public policy analysis, and was awarded the Dole Kinney Prize in creative writing. She was elected captain of the Pomona College soccer team and awarded the Brine Distinction of Achievement Award from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for her contributions on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. Her international experience includes studying at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, interning with the government of Buenos Aires, volunteering with a humanitarian aid group along the U.S.-Mexico border, leading an experiential education program in Costa Rica, and teaching English in Argentina and Indonesia. She taught ESL to dining hall workers at Pomona College, as well as to survivors of domestic abuse at the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center. She has conducted bilingual legal self-help clinics for migrant workers at Neighborhood Legal Services Los Angeles and she has done program development for a Bronx-based nonprofit that facilitates creative writing workshops for incarcerated and detained youth.
Courtney completed her B.A. with a double major in political science and Spanish, and a master’s in political science at Lehigh University (2014), where she also was a teaching assistant. She is originally from East Brunswick, New Jersey. During her time at Lehigh she took a particular interest in the study and promotion of political and creative expression among underserved populations. After a semester studying in Argentina, she completed a thesis on identity construction through independent media publications in the barrios of Buenos Aires. This past year she has gotten involved in local struggles for social and environmental justice, including the fight against an incinerator and an urban redevelopment project, both proposed in low-income, minority communities. She also initiated and co-facilitated a creative writing workshop at a nearby correctional facility, working with incarcerated women to produce powerful works of fiction. She also researched alternative waste management programs to determine the potential benefits and challenges of implementing a zero-waste program in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Debora graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (2011) with a B.S. in economics with a concentration in finance. She was born in Sweden to a Swedish father and Brazilian mother and grew up in Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, and Brazil. That experience informs a passion for and interest in the economic, social, and financial development of the Latin American region. Most recently she was an associate on the Debt Capital Markets—Latin America team at HSBC in New York, where she advised Brazilian sovereign, quasi-sovereign, corporate, and financial issuers on accessing the international capital markets. For the past two years, she originated, structured, and executed a variety of debt financing transactions, including loans, bond issues, and derivatives for the largest and most prominent companies and institutions in Brazil, including the National Treasury, BNDES, Banco do Brasil, Petrobras, and Vale, among many others. Her outside interests include travel, cooking, running, reading, and outdoor adventures such as Tough Mudder, bungee jumping, hiking, zip-lining, and skiing.
Eleanor learned to speak Spanish fluently and to love Mexican culture during the years she lived in Mexico as a child. She graduated from Vanderbilt University (2014) with a Bachelor of Music in violin performance, a second major in child development, and a minor in mathematics. She published a paper in the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal about the influence of Renaissance compositional techniques on the work of Johannes Brahms. During the summer, she taught private violin lessons, taught at music camps, and worked with Costa Rica’s national orchestra program, SiNEM. At Vanderbilt she served as both a team member and the Internal Affairs Chair of the Vanderbilt BhangraDores, the South Asian dance team, whose mission is to promote cultural awareness and aesthetic appreciation of the bhangra dance form. She also choreographed the Mexican folk dance section in a showcase of Latin American dance styles. She volunteered for Vanderbilt’s branch of Global Brigades, serving on a medical brigade in Nicaragua as a translator for English-speaking doctors and leading public health discussions. After her time in Costa Rica, she went on to pursue further study and a career in education.
A Portland, Maine native, Emma notes that “over half my public school classmates were recent immigrants, often refugees, hailing from everywhere from the former Yugoslavia to Somalia, from Vietnam to Afghanistan.” She graduated from Duke University (2014) with a B.A. in international comparative studies, a certificate in Latin American studies and a minor in English. There she won the William J. Griffith Award for Outstanding Service to the Durham community, and the Duke Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies Service Award. Studying in Argentina and Ecuador sparked her passion for Latin America and the study of development and globalization.
Gennifer was born in Seattle and lived in the northwest until moving to New Orleans to study and later graduate from Tulane University with a bachelors degree in Public Health (2014). She studied abroad in Chile where she completed an independent study project based on sexual education in secondary schools. She joined PiLA in summer 2014 as a fellow at Liceo Científico where she worked developing a health curriculum, assisted in English classes, and taught English at the local prison. She stayed at El Liceo for a second year as a PiLA senior fellow, working as an English teacher, continuing the health program, and helping the school's first class of graduating seniors apply to domestic and international universities as a college counselor. After El Liceo, Gennifer enrolled at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to pursue a master's degree.
Grace grew up on the high-mountain prairies of northeastern Oregon and graduated cum laude from Middlebury College with a degree in Political Science and a double minor in French and Global Health. Grace spent her 2014-15 PiLA year with the Endeavor Atacama’s Selection and Growth team in Antofagasta, Chile. She will stay on with Endeavor Atacama as a Key Account Manager to continue working with entrepreneurial ecosystems in Latin America and further Endeavor’s mission of supporting high-impact entrepreneurs to overcome the obstacles of operating in emerging or declining economies through high-profile mentorship. Endeavor’s entrepreneurs around the world are creating jobs and are role models who prove that game-changing ideas can come from anywhere, not just Silicon Valley. She remained at Endeavor as a PiLA senior fellow during 2015-16.
Grace is thrilled to call Antofagasta home for another year and loves to go geocaching on the weekends and explore the unexpected wonders and surprises that the desert has to offer, she also enjoys volleyball, swimming, singing at her local church, playing board games, and mastering los modismos chilenos.
Growing up near West Philadelphia, Guy found himself wrestling with issues of social justice from an early age. Whether it was volunteering at homeless shelters or tutoring inner-city youth, he began dedicating time and energy to making a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate than he. At Georgetown University (2014), his passion for service and philanthropy only grew. From tutoring and mentorship programs to representing Latin American refugees in immigration court, his search for justice at all levels of society came to shape his personal and professional aspirations. Perhaps no experience affected him as intensely as his semester in Ecuador, where he had the privilege of working in some of the countries most marginalized indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorean communities. Having been exposed to the community’s extreme poverty, he promised himself that he would one day return to the region that had captured his heart and that always left him wanting to be able to do more. Although he has been accepted to the Georgetown University Law Center, where he hopes to focus his studies on international human rights law, Guy has decided to defer in order to explore his burgeoning interest in international development work. As a PiLA fellow with the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice in Bogotá, Guy hopes to use the legal skills that he acquired as an undergraduate to advance local justice and bring lasting change to those who need it most.
Iara Guzman earned the B.A. in political science, with a certificate in Latin American studies from Princeton University (2014). Born and raised in Bolivia, she witnessed firsthand the many developmental challenges affecting Latin America, which encouraged her to begin volunteer and intern work with several international and grassroots organizations. From the age of fifteen, she had the opportunity to work with multiple organizations supporting education, development, and human rights advocacy programs. Working for Save the Children in Bolivia and Toronto, Iara designed didactic materials, facilitated workshops, and undertook research. Similarly, working with K’anchay, a local Bolivian NGO, she collaborated in grant writing and taught Quechua children in rural areas. As a volunteer with Terre des Hommes Germany, she attended the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 Summit. There she lobbied UN representatives and created a blog about the event. Her latest work experience has been with The Resource Foundation, a U.S. NGO that funds projects in Latin America, and Innovations for Successful Societies, a policy think tank.
Santiago hails from Tulcán, Ecuador. A Dartmouth College alum, he pursued a major in cconomics, graduating in 2014. He then joined Endeavor Patagonia, where he extended his stay as a PiLA senior fellow in 2015-16. At Endeavor, Santiago helped provide strategic, financial, and operational advise to entrepreneurs in order to grow and scale their companies, with the goal of creating jobs and fostering economic development.
Santiago is also interested in social entrepreneurship and conflict resolution. In the summer of 2010, the Davis Projects for Peace Foundation sponsored his reconciliation project between Colombian refugees and Ecuadorian youth. In 2011, he started a collaboration between three NGOs in order to create a job skills training facility for under-resourced youth in Vermont and New Hampshire. During the summer of 2013, Santiago attended the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute at the Woodrow Wilson School, which reinforced his interest in public service. He has lived in six different countries: Ecuador, Costa Rica, France, South Korea, the United States and Chile.
Kara graduated from the University of Texas with a dual degree in history and Latin American studies, and completed her certificate of Native American and indigenous studies during her time in Guatemala. In 2012 she moved to Washington, D.C. and began working for Tim Kaine for Senate in Virginia as a Latino Outreach Fellow, engaging Latino business leaders to help increase voter participation. She also interned with the international conflict resolution organization Search for Common Ground and helped launch their Congressional Conversation on Race website. Later, she was involved with the government watchdog Public Citizen’s Development department and their Democracy Is for People campaign. In 2013 she began work with New American Leaders Project (NALP), a non-partisan organization that trains first- and second-generation immigrants to run for office. NALP is instrumental in creating civic leaders and a network of elected officials with immigrant background throughout the United States. She intends to pursue a dual MBA and MS in environment and resources, focusing on international land and water conflicts and innovative, sustainable uses of national resources.Since joining Fundación Arias in mid–2014, Kara has traveled the isthmus to represent the organization, remaining there as a PiLA senior fellow through the end of 2015.
An El Paso, Texas native, Karla graduated from Columbia University (2014), studying sociocultural anthropology and comparative ethnicity and race studies. She grew up in the Southwest in a first-generation immigrant family, from a young age noticing differences in development, the gap in resources on both sides of the border for Latinos/as, and immigration issues. In New York City she got involved in issues of mass incarceration, interning with the Correctional Association of New York and the American Friends Service Committee. In January 2013, she led a public health brigade through the organization Global Brigades, aimed at improving infrastructure of the home to reduce potential health risks in rural Honduras. In spring 2013, she studied in Nicaragua, spending time in Managua, the countryside, the Caribbean coast, and an indigenous town in Nueva Segovia, doing ethnographic research on women in Chorotega through the School of International Training and the Columbia’s Ella Deloria Undergraduate Research Fellowship. She hopes eventually to work with an organization in Latin America, or on issues of mass incarceration and immigration in the United States, to ignite policy change that affects people on both sides of the border.
Kate Collins graduated from Tufts University (2014) with a double major in community health and child development. After a high school service trip to Guatemala, Kate fell in love with the history, culture and the people she met there. This encouraged her to co-found Technology Services Corps (TSC), a nonprofit that works with underserved communities around the world to integrate technology into schools. With TSC, she led and mentored trips to Guatemala, Chile, and Ecuador. Returning to Guatemala her junior year of high school, Kate studied at a bilingual school, which furthered her love for Latin America. At Tufts, she devoted her time to GlobeMed, a student-run nonprofit that partners with NGOs in developing countries to improve health outcomes. As a member of the executive board, she led students in educating, fundraising, and advocating for global health equity. To further her understanding of global health, Kate studied overseas with the International Honors Program, comparatively examining health systems and cultures in India, Argentina, and South Africa. Kate was also an intern at Partners in Health, evaluating and designing PIH Engage, a grassroots movement fighting for the human right to health. Originally from Seattle, Kate loves to hike, play soccer, and root for the Mariners and Seahawks. She is thrilled to join the Providencia team and experience the vibrant culture that Uruguay has to offer.
An Illinois native, Katharine graduated from Washington University in St. Louis (2013), where she double-majored in international studies and Spanish and minored in anthropology. She also planned internationally-themed programming and fundraisers as vice president of the international honors society, volunteered in the study abroad office, and learned to tango for a Latin American cultural show. She studied in Argentina, where she conducted anthropological research on culturally and economically sustainable tourism and artisan initiatives in two indigenous Mapuche communities. This research became the basis for Katharine’s senior thesis on the politics of the indigenous craft industries in Argentina and Ecuador, which won the 2013 Stone Prize for Excellence in International Studies Research and piqued her interest in grassroots economic development initiatives. Katharine has also interned as a writing tutor and educational advisor with EducationUSA and the International Black Sea University in the Republic of Georgia. Stateside, she has interned with the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative to advance housing rights for low-income individuals at the local and national levels. After her fellowship year, she plans to attend graduate school to study public policy and then embark upon a development or advocacy career in Latin America. She is excited to move to the beautiful shores of Lake Atitlán and to explore the lakeside pueblos and surrounding volcanoes.
Kim graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (2014, B.S. systems engineering and B.A. Hispanic studies). Her first exposure to international development was on a microfinance trip to San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala. She also studied literature, art, and film at two universities in Buenos Aires, where she lived with a host mother and got involved with several community service organizations. Upon returning to the U.S., she was determined to work in Argentina. She received a grant to carry out her own research project on Argentine waste collection programs at the environmental company TerraCycle. Her interest in public health motivated her to pursue an academic concentration in healthcare systems and several internships in the field. After graduation, Kim spent the summer in Huancayo, Peru, working with a team of students to implement a microloan program in three developing communities. Kim looks forward to combining her passion for Latin American culture with her academic and professional experience in the field of healthcare at the Comunidad Connect clinic in Los Robles this year.
Lake grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and graduated from the University of Puget Sound (2014) with a double major in biology and Spanish, reflecting a love for nature and a desire to understand the world from the perspective of others. As an undergraduate, she was an active backpacking leader with university orientation, member of the dance community, and editor for neuroscience and biology publications. During a semester in Costa Rica she investigated threats to tropical biodiversity and conducted research on the social behavior in butterflies. She has worked as a science teacher in youth nature camps and written science tests for a national research institute, in addition to serving as a community mediator and health clinic assistant. Lake feels most at home outdoors and is passionate about dance, food, community building, and literature. Her work with the Liceo Cientifico will allow her to share a love of science and promote sustainable development and conservation in the tropics.
Lauren graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University (2014) in ecology and evolutionary biology, with certificates in Latin American studies and environmental studies. There she studied tropical Latin American ecosystems and freelanced for newspapers in Central New Jersey. In 2014–15, Lauren was a PiLA fellow at the World Food Programme’s Regional Bureau in Panama, where she spearheaded urban programming initiatives and helped manage a fund that responds to food emergencies in Central America. During 2015-16 Lauren continued as a PiLA senior fellow in Bogotá with World Food Programme, focusing on climate change and humanitarian assistance in conflict‐affected areas. Subsequently she enrolled to pursue a master's at Yale University.
Leah spent the last year representing the rights of migrant farmworkers and Spanish speaking survivors of domestic abuse as a paralegal for the Battered Immigrant Project and Farmworker Unit at Legal Aid of North Carolina. Before moving to North Carolina, she interned at Latin America Working Group in Washington, D.C. At Colorado College, she majored in the history and political science of Latin America (2013) and focused on the migration of marginalized communities. Outside the classroom she helped refugees adjust to life in Colorado Springs and led workshops for Hispanic youth. She is honored to serve as the Developing Minds fellow in Medellín and is looking forward to sharing time with the support team at Centro de Atención Especializada (CAE) and the former child soldiers served by CAE.
An Austin, Texas native, Madeline graduated from Dartmouth College (2012), where she majored in government, focusing on international relations and comparative politics in Latin America, with a minor in Hispanic studies. She also was a four-year letter member and First-Team All-Ivy selection for the women’s varsity volleyball team, and an active participant in the Dartmouth Coalition for Global Health. During her junior winter, Madeline interned with the Río Beni Health Foundation in a rural clinic serving isolated indigenous populations in the Amazon region in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. She applied this experience in on-the-ground public health, working as a research intern in the Gender, Diversity, and Human Rights Office of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, D.C. during her junior summer. After graduating, Madeline developed a publication to profile eight indicators of gender equity with the World Health Organization-Pan American Health Organization country office in Bogotá, Colombia. Most recently she has been a community outreach worker with the City of Austin Health Department Communicable Diseases Unit, providing public health information and health care services to refugee, immigrant, and historically underserved populations in the Central Texas region. She remained as a senior fellow with DREAM in 2015–2016. Then she left for England to pursue a master's in infectious disease and epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Mai Yer graduated from Wellesley College (2014), majoring in economics and Spanish, with a background in economic theory, statistics, and data analysis, and a focus on inequality, social policy, and feminism. She aspires to work in poverty alleviation and economic development through public policy and nonprofit work. Born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mai Yer identifies as Hmong-American, and as an ethnic minority she is especially interested in working with marginalized communities. Her immigrant family’s experiences and dual identity have shaped her passion to work on poverty alleviation efforts and women’s rights. Her previous professional and academic experiences have involved domestic and global affairs, with experience working with small nonprofits, a law firm, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. She is fascinated with globalization and traveling, and has lived in rural Guatemala, Bolivia and Spain. Mai Yer has studied Spanish for 10 years and looks forward to living and working in Panama.
An Indiana native and 10–year 4–H’er, Marianne graduated from Butler University (2014) with majors in international studies and Spanish and a minor in chemistry. Marianne subsequently worked at a pro-bono legal clinic in Indianapolis, researching human rights cases and studying the clinic’s outreach mechanisms so its clients could be better served. At Butler, Marianne was a resident assistant for 90 students and a Young Life leader in an Indianapolis urban high school. She also interpreted for immigration law firms, studied international religious conflict, and contributed to Butler’s creative writing circles. Marianne was first exposed to research during a semester in Brazil, where she studied alternative agriculture. Encounters there with Catholic liberation theologians and priests sparked her interest in liberation theology, and she went on to write her thesis about liberation theology in Brazil’s struggle for democracy. Travels in Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru have taught her a great deal about Latin America’s complex history and social fabric, and she is delighted to join Providencia to continue investing in youth and work in institutional development. After her year in Uruguay, Marianne plans to pursue a master’s in peace and conflict studies.
A first-generation college student, Michael is a proud Trojan alumnus of the University of Southern California, where he earned a B.A. in American studies and a B.S. in health promotion, with a minor in nonprofits. While at USC, Michael was heavily involved in activities emphasizing college readiness and retention; he was a resident advisor for first-year students and mentored and tutored children through Troy Camp, USC’s oldest philanthropic cause. These experiences inspired his passion for education and motivated him to join Teach for America, devoting the past two years to teaching science at Northwest High School in the Navajo Nation. Michael’s students taught him the value of a culturally responsive education, and he is excited to move to Peru where he can learn about cultural values regarding education in indigenous language and Spanish-speaking classrooms. Ultimately, he aims to build on these experiences as he pursues a career as a school principal on the México-California border.
Michael majored in human developmental and regenerative biology at Harvard College (2014), along with a minor in global health and health policy, and a citation in Spanish. Michael served for four years as a program coordinator and volunteer for Health Leads, an organization that connects low-income patients in the Boston area to basic resources such as food, shelter, and housing. Michael also served as co-president of the Harvard Undergraduate Global Health Forum, an umbrella organization that seeks to empower students through domestic and international service projects. During his spare time, Michael played oboe in the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra. As he sees it, the most formative experience of his life was a summer internship with Partners in Health in Lima, Peru, where he served the local community by investigating the detection and treatment of tuberculosis. Passionate about how disease biology can interact with the social context and environment, Michael hopes to gain a better understanding of what social factors contribute to disease outbreaks in urban environments, and he intends to dedicate his career to overcoming these barriers to health.
Michelle earned a B.S. in environmental science and Spanish, with a minor in business from Villanova University (2014). As an intern for the New York City Parks Department’s Green Thumb community garden program and a Spanish interpreter intern at the Villanova Law Clinic in Philadelphia, Michelle saw the benefit of community empowerment and outreach among Spanish-speaking communities first hand. At Villanova she also founded the Villanova Community Garden student group to promote eating locally and sustainably. She was able to combine her interests in sustainability and Spanish language during her overseas study experience, where she conducted independent research on the process of organic certification in rural Panama. The relationships Michelle developed from this eye-opening experience encouraged her to seek other opportunities to meet innovative leaders on a global scale. This led her to Endeavor Mexico, where she is thrilled to support new initiatives, hone her business and language skills, and meet the amazing entrepreneurs of Mexico who are making a positive impact through their innovations. She anticipates applying her PiLA experience in a career in international policy or sustainable enterprise.
A native of Ecuador, Mónica is the daughter of a fast-talking, brash, loving woman from the coast and an intelligent, dedicated and reserved man born and raised in the highlands. At the age of eight, in the midst of Ecuador’s dollarization, her family moved to Caracas during the Chavez era. Two years later she was back in Quito witnessing more political instability. Eight years, three presidents and four presidential terms later, Mónica graduated from high school as a self-proclaimed dreamer. In 2010 she moved to Lancaster, PA, to study political science at Franklin & Marshall College (2014) and get a taste of life in the exurban United States. She has been dedicated to a life of service in the field of international development ever since. At CEPLAES she worked with the Programa Derechos, Cambio Climático y Bosques, a joint project of CEPLAES and Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN).
After multiple chronic illnesses impacted both Morgan and her family while she was in high school, she began to fully comprehend how health can influence every aspect of a persons’ life. Her lifetime interest in social disparities and her new awareness of personal health converged at that time, an enthusiasm further fortified when she left Atlanta, where she was born and raised, and began her public health studies at the George Washington University. At age 19, after two years at GWU, she moved to Honduras to work on a public health project with a grassroots youth-led NGO that worked to empower its youth scholars through leadership development and capacity building. Her work in the field inspired her to focus both her academic and professional career on community development through strengthening women and adolescents’ access and rights to reproductive health services, community violence prevention, and promoting gender equality. Subsequently she completed her master’s in public health and has worked with a number of projects in both Washington, DC and Honduras. This work solidified her commitment to working in the areas of youth development and reproductive and sexual health.
Rebecca graduated magna cum laude from Elon University (2013), where she had the opportunity to study and intern in Latin America. She primarily focused her academic studies on the region and wrote her thesis exploring the interrelated role of geography and politics in Costa Rican food security. She also worked with Sustainable Alamance, an organization dedicated to achieving meaningful employment for former convicted felons. There she developed a passion for the intersection of practicality (growing food) and the broader socioeconomic context (producing food in a food desert by and for a disenfranchised population). Traveling has heightened her cultural awareness and pushed her to focus on applying the tools she has acquired in growing gardens and communities alike. Since graduation, she managed the Elon Community Garden and worked in Washington, D.C. installing and maintaining vegetable gardens. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Rebecca enjoys experimenting with new recipes and exploring the cobbled streets of old towns, whether at home or abroad.
Robyn graduated from the University of Vermont (UVM, 2014) with a B.S. in environmental studies and a minor in community and international development. Robyn speaks fluent Spanish, having studied and worked in Ecuador, and she is conversant in French. She is well traveled, having lived, worked, and studied in Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Her love of cooking reflects this diverse background. Robyn conducted independent research in Ecuador for her senior thesis on the effectiveness of volunteer-based international ecotourism. She also undertook internships in Ecuador, focusing on ecotourism and sustainability workshops for small communities in the Andes. At UVM, Robyn was a lead eco-rep for student life, and a steward for her college; both positions required extensive community based event planning, marketing campaigns, and outreach. She was a member of UVM’s Tower Society, one of ten select women recognized annually for their dedication to leadership and female empowerment on campus. Through UVM’s Outing Club, Robyn organized excursions for her peers, backpacking and ice climbing through Vermont, sharing her love of the outdoors while seeking new adventures.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sarah grew up just north of the city on the shores of Lake Michigan. While pursuing her undergraduate degree in Spanish and Italian at Georgetown University (2012), she worked as a research assistant for the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, volunteered for the DC Schools Project as an ESL tutor, and co-hosted a radio show on Georgetown’s student station. She spent the first semester of her junior year studying in Valparaíso, Chile, where she participated in a homeless outreach program run by a national nonprofit organization and volunteered at a local day care center. During the second semester of her junior year, she studied in Ferrara, Italy and interned at IBO Italia, a small nonprofit that works closely with the European Voluntary Service. After Georgetown, she moved to San Francisco for a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as a legal fellow at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). There she assisted clients in applying for legal status, served as a translator and interpreter, and advocated for immigrant rights in the Bay Area. Sarah is looking forward to learning more about the intersection of food security, immigration, and economic development at the UN World Food Programme in Ecuador.
Sarah’s passion for social justice stemmed from watching her parents work with private foundations supporting nonprofits to reduce social, health, and educational disparities. However, her Virginia suburb was a different world from what her parents knew through their work in Washington, D.C. For a long time, Sarah knew these differences existed but didn’t understand them. It wasn’t until she began volunteering in Washington that she confronted the hidden world across the Potomac, coming to understand the racial and socioeconomic undertones manifest everywhere she went in the city. Through service, teaching, and research at Duke University and elsewhere, she has learned about the underlying causes of the disparities she encountered in the nation’s capital. These experiences also taught her how to confront inequality through social action. Sarah wants to pursue a career that allows her to understand and change the mechanisms underlying inequality, and to find effective ways to empower those most affected by unequal conditions.
Sarah earned her B.A. in international studies and Spanish from Johns Hopkins University. She first became interested in Spanish while doing immigrant advocacy work in her hometown of Princeton, New Jersey. She further developed her interest in Latin America through internships with the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and the Organization of American States. As a Woodrow Wilson Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, she studied in Lima, Peru and conducted research about the relationship between urban governance and city development. Sarah was originally attracted to Medellín, Colombia after learning about the innovations of social urbanism projects. She arrived to Medellín in June 2014 to work with Instiglio, a social enterprise that aims to make social programs in developing countries more effective by tying funding to results. Sarah is excited to work in Instiglio’s fast-paced start-up environment and contribute to innovation in development aid.
Sarah graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (2014), majoring in health and societies and completing the pre-med curriculum. She also volunteered as an EMT and at Puentes de Salud, a clinic serving a predominantly Hispanic clientele in South Philadelphia. There she served as a translator, tutored at the clinic’s after-school program, worked as a recruiter for the diabetes prevention program, participated in the Puentes future health professionals’ education course, and researched rising obesity rates in the clinic’s patient population for her honors thesis. Her career goal is to become a physician, while maintaining her interest in public health and community action, and she plans to focus on these disciplines in her future profession. She studied in Cuba and conducted her honors thesis research entirely in Spanish. She enjoys playing tennis, running half marathons and exploring the outdoors.
Serena graduated from Princeton University (2014) with a B.A. in economics and a certificate in political economy. Through high school community service and research projects, she realized her interest in economic development and love of Latin America. She continued to pursue these passions at Princeton; beyond her coursework, she spent two summers working with overseas organizations supporting entrepreneurs. In summer 2012 she interned with Acción Emprendedora, a nonprofit based in Santiago, Chile, which provides courses and consulting services to small business entrepreneurs. In summer 2013 she interned in Cordoba, Argentina at Endeavor, conducting U.S.-focused market research for two entrepreneurs in Endeavor’s network. At Princeton, Serena developed her expertise in economics and its applications via coursework, independent projects during her junior and senior years, and positions as a research assistant for three different professors. She also held leadership positions in multiple student organizations, including Chabad and a group addressing sexual assault on campus. In addition, Serena led an extended outdoor orientation backpacking program for new students. After PiLA she hopes to pursue graduate studies in economics and a career in economic development. In her free time, Serena enjoys running, cooking, doing art, and finding the best restaurants in Argentina’s culinary capital.
From Northampton, Massachusetts, Sophia graduated from Wesleyan University (2011), with a double major in the interdisciplinary Science in Society Program, concentrating in psychology and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, and French Studies. With Davenport Study Grant support, she undertook her senior thesis research in Windhoek, Namibia, where she studied the relationship between gender norms and reproductive health practices. At Wesleyan, Sophia was an editor of Mind Matters: the Wesleyan Journal of Psychology, and a leader of Wesleyan Clinic Escorts, a student group whose members provide support to people seeking abortion care. Her primary academic and professional interests are in human rights-based approaches to public health, specifically with regard to reproductive and sexual health and rights. Sophia has worked with several nonprofit human rights and public policy organizations, including MADRE, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, and the Center for HIV Law and Policy. For the past two years, she has lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she was working with Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM), an NGO that promotes gender justice, prior to beginning her PiLA fellowship.
A proud native of the Chicagoland area, Vidya holds a B.A. in Spanish and sociology from Fordham University (2013). Through courses that centered on indigenous rights, dictatorships, and grassroots revolutions, she quickly became fascinated by Latin American culture, politics, and resilience, and decided to study in Lima for her junior year. There she conducted research on Peruvian health and social relations, which inspired her undergraduate research on the social dimensions of epidemiology. Since graduation, Vidya has furthered her interest in health and immigration. She worked as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm, where she confronted the gaping inequalities and bureaucratic nature of U.S. immigration policy. She also worked at a physician’s office and translated medical inquiries and concerns for Spanish-speaking patients. Vidya is an avid Bharatanatyam South Indian Classical dancer and fitness enthusiast. She is grateful to have performed with Natya Dance Theatre, a Chicago-based nonprofit that fosters cultural exchange through dance and spiritually aesthetic experience. Vidya is eager to start working as a program assistant at Impacta-Perú, where she will help coordinate outreach programs and research investigations. She will pursue a master’s in public health next year at the University of Illinois-Chicago, using her PiLA experience to advance the objectives of public service, community development, and positive social change. Vidya and PiLA gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Amy Adina Schulman Memorial Fund in making her Impacta placement possible.
Viviana majored in sociology at Princeton University (2014). A native Spanish speaker who has also studied French and Portuguese, she has traveled often to Chile to visit extended family, while also working in Honduras and Bulgaria, and studying in Cape Town, South Africa. Viviana is interested in working in development; she has undertaken three extended internships with nonprofit NGOs. The first was with El Centro in Trenton, New Jersey, which provides legal counsel, clothing, and food to low-income Hispanic families. The second was with OYE Honduras, an NGO in El Progreso, Yoro, Honduras that provides scholarships and activities to ambitious disadvantaged youth. The third was with at the Bread Houses Network, a program under the I3C NGO that brings people together over bread-making workshops. On campus, she was involved in tango and salsa classes, was co-president of the International Food Co-op, wrote and copy edited for the Daily Princetonian student newspaper, and served on the board of the Hispanic cultural group.
Since Watson can remember, he has been playing soccer, and with all three boys in his family playing competitively, it seemed that nearly every weekend he was at a soccer tournament somewhere with his two younger brothers, who became his close friends. The family moved from Knoxville to the small town of Maryville when he was in the sixth grade so the boys could go to “better” public schools, but because Maryville did not have the same enrichment program, he basically ended up having to repeat a year of school. While he continued to get good grades, he became very disengaged and focused on matters outside of school, mostly soccer, but also swimming and hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains. He chose Sewanee (2013) because it recruited him for soccer and it was close to home. While he planned to study hard sciences, he got wrapped up in the social sciences via an anthropology of education course that entailed working in an after-school program. From there he hasn’t looked back, diving into this world and the opportunities he has found. Watson won a postgraduate Fulbright scholarship that took him to work in San Pedro Sula, Honduras to carry out research on NGOs and youth development efforts there.
Prior to becoming a PiLA fellow, Will worked as Special Assistant to the President at InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs. In three years at InterAction, he coordinated high-level advocacy to reform U.S. foreign assistance and build partnerships between U.S. NGOs and the U.S. government, and assisted the CEO with writing and talking points. Will earned his bachelor’s in international relations from Tufts University (2011), graduating Phi Beta Kappa. At Tufts he helped implement agricultural development projects in Guatemala and studied in Bolivia, where he conducted field research on political division and development. He has interned with the Inter-American Dialogue and on the Hill. Will joined DREAM as its Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research Fellow, while also immersing himself in Dominican culture and playing pickup fútbol.
An American University alumna who left her native Jamaica in pursuit of economic opportunities, Yanique’s research interests concern the economic, political, and socio-cultural factors that lead people from Latin America and the Caribbean to migrate, and the cultural and political strategies they employ to create structures and entities to ensure their livelihoods in the U.S. and Western Europe. Yanique’s interests include addressing the endemic poverty, inequality, and extreme violence that fuels migration. In the long-term, she wishes to contribute to restructuring the social and economic order in the Caribbean and Latin America by shaping U.S. foreign policy to promote social inclusion of marginalized communities. Yanique worked with Latino immigrant communities as a citizenship and English tutor for Spanish-speaking clients at the Central American Resource Advocacy Center (CARECEN) in Washington, D.C. As president of American University’s Caribbean Students Association, she cultivated cultural and political awareness through policy roundtables and conferences with economists, development experts, and members of the region’s diplomatic corps. Yanique also helped create platforms for youth to voice concerns over U.S. foreign policy, development strategy, and immigration reform to White House officials, members of Congress, and youth coordinators at the Inter-American Development Bank. She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to design and implement the Government of Cantabria-Botín Foundation’s curriculum-based Global Classrooms program at a bilingual high school in northern Spain, before heading to Panama City as a PiLA fellow with the United Nations World Food Programme regional office.
Rafa graduated from Princeton University (2015) with a B.A. in public and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School and certificates in Latin American studies and Portuguese language and cultures. He also was a residential college advisor and captain of the men’s club soccer team. Rafa has cultivated a strong interest in international relations and a passion for diplomacy and foreign service, a career path he will pursue after PiLA. He has a deep interest in Latin America, with experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors; he interned at Citigroup’s finance division in summer 2014, and was co-founder and president of an educational nonprofit (Ivy Spain). These entrepreneurial and private sector activities and his passion for and experience in Latin America will allow Rafa to make the most of joining Endeavor Buenos Aires. In his free time, he enjoys running, playing soccer, traveling, reading, and playing chess.
Nicki is an Atlanta, Georgia native, and graduated from the University of Georgia Honors College (2014) with a double major in environmental economics and management and Spanish, and a certificate in environmental ethics. Throughout, she pursued her interests in athletics, the environment, and language. For four years, Nicki rode on the Division I Equestrian Team, which won the National Championship title in 2014. She worked within the community to reduce plastic bag use, volunteered on an organic farm, and tutored English as a Second Language and GRE math and language at a Latino center for education. To further her environmental and language studies, Nicki studied for a semester in Buenos Aires, where she interned with Greenpeace Argentina, and fell in love with Latin America. In August, Nicki will be leaving her job as an energy efficiency consultant to move to the Dominican Republic. She is very excited to share her passion for the environment with her students, and learn more about environmental issues affecting the Caribbean through her work at El Liceo Científico.
Camille graduated from Columbia University (2015) with a double major in human rights (specializing in sociocultural anthropology) and Latin American and Iberian cultures. Her senior thesis analyzed the cultural responses to recent legal and policy changes concerning quilombola communities in the Brazilian Amazon, incorporating both research as well as case studies from her fieldwork in the area. Her strong interest in human rights and cultural studies has translated into several internships, including the Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris (Bogotá, Colombia, 2012), the European Roma Rights Centre (Budapest, Hungary, 2013), and the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi (Belém, Brazil, 2014). With support from the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, she directed a comprehensive group project (2012) in southeastern Louisiana, working with the Biloxi-Chitimacha indigenous community, which faces extensive land loss and relocation. She carried out two months of field research in Peru before beginning work as a resilience fellow for the World Food Programme in Port-au-Prince. She is excited to combine her interests in fieldwork, policy, and reporting in this role, as well as to learn Haitian Kreyol, building on her native French.
Alexis is a first-generation graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (2015) with a major in political economy and a minor in environmental design and urbanism. He emigrated with his family from Mexico at the age of three, so that he and his brother could have an opportunity to pursue higher education. Influenced by his border-town homes, Mexicali and San Diego, Alexis has focused his work on international development and poverty alleviation. He interned for the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego, where he contributed to their evaluation of the Tijuana municipal police. He also worked as a research assistant for the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, researching ways to spur economic growth in Richmond, California.
Isaac Bloch is a Yale (2012) graduate interested in education and economic justice in Latin America. Through Yspaniola, he first visited the Dominican Republic during his sophomore year, and the relationships he formed with Haitian immigrants in the Batey Libertad community challenged his assumptions about development work and activism. Isaac soon returned to lead a group of fellow students to the same community. He has since supported Yspaniola’s mission as a development associate based in New York, learning about fundraising drives and benefit galas, and is extremely excited to return to Batey Libertad to help with literacy education and, hopefully, to learn Haitian Creole. Beyond Hispaniola, Isaac has lived and worked in La Paz, Bolivia, where he directly enrolled at la Universidad Mayor de San Andres. For his senior thesis, which analyzed indigenous influences on Bolivians’ sense of nationalism, he won Yale’s Latin American Senior Essay Prize. Most recently, Isaac was an instructor with Chess in the Schools, where he taught chess full-time in New York’s public schools. When not working on lesson plans, he could be found juggling in Central Park or playing jazz piano.
Having grown up in a predominantly white middle-class town in Central Oregon, Jessie moved to San Antonio, Texas upon graduation in search of a more diverse environment. While at Trinity University, she studied in Valparaiso, Chile for her junior year. Throughout her time at Trinity, she volunteered in community and academic programs that focused on practical approaches to promoting social justice. Working with low-income children in Chile, underserved populations in San Antonio, and community activists in Nicaragua cemented her commitment to a grassroots approach to development work. Since graduating with a B.A. in international relations and Spanish (2012), she has focused on public health, taking related courses in health care and earning certification as an English-Spanish medical interpreter in Washington State. She will be one of three PiLA fellows with the U.N. World Food Programme in Panama City.
Xavier is an Atlanta native and credits the extensive Mexican-American population there for sparking his interest in Latin America. He graduated from Temple University (2015) with a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Portuguese. Throughout, Xavier was involved in various activities that developed his interest in helping to better the North Philadelphia community. He was a mentor at Big Brother Big Sister of Southeastern Pennsylvania, which led to a position at Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia. Xavier studied in Havana (Universidad de La Habana) and in Barranquilla at Universidad del Norte, and traveled extensively throughout Colombia. A trip to Quibdó, Chocó Department, was a defining experience that caused him to shift his academic interest from Spanish language to human rights. Xavier subsequently undertook two internships in the Dominican Republic, as a U.S. acculturation teacher with the Dominican Summer League of Major League Baseball, and as a general operations intern at TECHO-República Dominicana. Xavier is ecstatic to work with Developing Minds and return to Colombia. After PiLA, Xavier will serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique, after which he anticipates graduate in study human rights and international relations.
Eduardo is a graduate the University of Florida (2015), majoring in international studies and economics, with a minor in French. Fluent in English, Spanish, and French, Eduardo is driven by interests in international relations, economic and social development, as well as his passion to see Latin America grow. Eduardo has twice interned with the Capacity Development Unit of the United Nations Development Program. His passions for travelling and learning about different cultures have led him to backpack through Southeast Asia, precursor to a planned one-year, round-the-world road trip; Eduardo also enjoys reading, playing and watching soccer, cooking, and travelling. He hopes to combine his love for travelling and different cultures with his passion for Latin America, to pursue a career in international development.
From Philadelphia, Emma graduated Phi Beta Kappa with high honors from Wesleyan University (2014), earning a B.A. in sociology and Hispanic literatures and cultures. She also worked as an ESL teacher for local immigrants, as a translator and interpreter for Spanish-speakers in the greater Middletown area, and as a policy and civic engagement intern for PICC, a Philadelphia-based immigration nonprofit. Emma also lived and studied for a year in Lima, where she also worked with Centro para el Desarrollo con Dignidad (CEDED) as a tutor and workshop leader and assisted on a research and policy project on Afro-Peruvian identity and equality with the Ministry of Culture. Her professional interests include anti-poverty policy development and reform work with respect to education, immigration, and criminal justice. After PiLA, she plans to pursue graduate studies and a career in policy development and advocacy. Emma also enjoys cooking, playing soccer and rugby, and looking after young children. She remained at Yspaniola in 2015-16 as a senior fellow.
Kaela graduated from the University of California, Berkeley (2015) with a B.A. in political science and international relations and a minor in environmental economics and policy. Kaela grew up interested in other cultures, with a mother from Poland and a father who worked in Latin America. Having lived in Mexico City for two years as a child, Kaela has a longstanding interest in the region and is excited to discover more while in Panama. She has long been interested in international development, but narrowed her interests to global health via various formative experiences at Berkeley. She interned at Child Family Health International, and served on a research team at University of California San Francisco called Global Health Decisions, helping to create a web-based tool to recommend HIV-AIDs prevention and treatment studies to policymakers in developing countries. She also worked on a UC Berkeley School of Public Health project investigating safe and reliable drinking water access in rural Panama. She spent a summer with TATA Projects in Hyderabad, India, where she evaluated the company’s social-responsibility initiative to install water purification plants in rural areas around India. After a semester studying in Madrid, she spent her senior year involved with the Patient Support Corps at UCSF. Kaela enjoys cooking and trying new cuisines, spending time in the sun, and becoming closely acquainted with new places. She is looking forward to working with the World Food Programme and exploring Panama City and its environs.
Sophia’s passion for culture and service reflects her own multicultural heritage and international upbringing, cultivated through her educational experiences. During her senior year at Princeton University (2012), she completed an AmeriCorps Term of Service as K–12 Education Project Coordinator for Energy Service Corps, leading a group of volunteers to teach in the public schools of Trenton, New Jersey. She also completed a semester in Santiago de los Caballeros, the Dominican Republic’s second largest city, where she returned to write her thesis on Dominican-Haitian relations and the portrayal of Afro-Latino racial perspectives in popular culture. After graduating, with a bachelor’s in Spanish literature and culture, and certificates in urban, Latin American, and African American studies, Sophia moved back to the DR. She began her teaching career at the university level in the English department at the Pontificía Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, and then accepted a job teaching middle-school math and geography at Saint David School. There, she successfully implemented methods of in-class differentiation, significantly increased student success rates in mathematics, and formed the school’s first ever soccer program. Sophia is an avid soccer player, traveler, and adventurer.
Madison graduated from St. Olaf College (2015) with a B.A. in sociology and anthropology and concentrations in Latin American studies and management studies. A Colorado native, she had her first nonprofit experience as an intern at the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (LCHT) in Denver. Madison wanted to continue raising awareness about human trafficking, so she co-founded a student organization that provides the St. Olaf community with opportunities to volunteer with and learn more about the anti-trafficking movement. These experiences cultivated her passion for human rights advocacy. In order to continue learning about a broad range social justice issues, Madison spent a semester abroad in Quito working at Asylum Access Ecuador, interned at Minnesota AIDS Project, and wrote grants for the national education nonprofit, Adopt-A-Classroom. She enjoys jazz and tap dancing, exploring the outdoors, and eating chocolate ice cream. Madison served as a PiLA fellow at Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa as director of external relations.
Emma grew up in New York City and graduated from Wesleyan University in 2012. During her junior year, she studied for a semester at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Mérida, Mexico through the IFSA-Butler study abroad program. She returned to Mérida the next summer to intern with Brazos Abiertos, an HIV-AIDS awareness organization, where she developed a new curriculum for the organization’s education program. Emma wrote her senior thesis in philosophy on the role of language education in promoting intercultural understanding. While at Wesleyan, she also organized a contradance series through the Wesleyan Folk Revival Initiative, volunteered as an English instructor with WesESL, and tutored students at a local elementary school. Starting in the fall of 2012, Emma worked as a health educator and then program co-coordinator for the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families’ (CHCF) Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, based at a high school campus in the Bronx. At CHCF she facilitated sexual health education programs in English and Spanish and supervised a team of peer educators. Outside of work, Emma continues to be an avid dance leader and performer.
Josephine’s family moved to Costa Rica during her 7th-grade school year to be near relatives. There, she was immersed in a new culture and learned Spanish. She graduated from Tufts University (2013), where she chaired the worker-student alliance, directed a program that provided college advising to low-income students, and majored in American studies. Josephine spent a semester in the Dominican Republic interning at a Santo Domingo fair-trade apparel factory, studying with Jesuit priests, and trying her best to dance bachata. The country’s relationship to the bordering nation of Haiti especially fascinated her and inspired her senior thesis on the U.S.-Mexican border, which won the Shapiro Prize for Outstanding American Studies Thesis. After graduating, Josephine worked as a union organizer and as AmeriCorps-VISTA volunteer at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago, advancing policies for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She also volunteered as a counselor with Rape Victim Advocates. Josephine was a PiLA fellow with Trócaire, whose mission is to counter gender-based violence in Central America.
Shawon graduated from Princeton University (2015), majoring in public and international affairs, with a concentration in education policy, with minors in African American studies, Latino studies, and Spanish. His senior thesis addressed the impact of strict school discipline policies on students of color. Outside the classroom, Shawon served two terms as student body president, co-led a civic engagement trip on juvenile justice, worked as a residential adviser, and was a hip-hop dancer. During summers, Shawon served as an international intern with an NGO in Honduras, an education policy intern with the Children’s Defense Fund, and a White House intern with the Office of Cabinet Affairs. At DREAM, Shawon looks forward to applying his passion for advancing educational equity and promoting social justice. After completing his fellowship with DREAM, Shawon will join Deloitte in Washington, D.C. as a business analyst, consulting for the federal government. Afterwards, he plans to join the federal government or a nonprofit and work on improving federal education policy.
From the small town of Bainbridge, Georgia, Erick graduated from Harvard University (2015) concentrating in neurobiology and earning a language citation in Italian. One of five children born to Mexican immigrant parents and field laborers, he encountered poverty early on, and consequently, developed a lifelong passion to give back and help the less fortunate. After graduating as his high school’s first Latino valedictorian, he enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point, but soon realized that his career interests lay elsewhere. At Harvard, Erick took part in Army ROTC, researched traumatic brain injury, and was very involved in shaping residential house life. He also studied in Italy (neuroscience) and in Colombia (public health), and did volunteer work in Costa Rica. His career goal is to become a surgeon, and he plans to maintain his interest in public health and the military. Beyond his professional and academic interests, he enjoys long-distance running, working out, watching and playing sports, and learning about other cultures. He is excited to return to Colombia as a Developing Minds fellow in Medellín, and hopes to make a profound impact on the lives of the former child soldiers with whom he will work.
Abigail began studying Spanish in kindergarten at her international school in Queens, New York, and has studied, worked, undertaken research, and traveled around Latin America. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (2015) with a B.A. in history and minors in Hispanic studies and urban education. She wrote a history honors thesis on challenges of inclusion in Ecuador’s indigenous education movements, edited the food section of Penn’s campus magazine, and worked in several Philadelphia public schools. In summer 2014, Abigail worked in Mexico City on Ashoka’s communications team, where she encountered the region’s quickly growing social entrepreneurship sector. She then traveled to Quito to conduct archival research for her thesis. She loves traveling, cooking, and talking about complicated issues. Abigail hopes to change the world in the most effective way she can, after figuring out what that might be.
Leah graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (2015) with a B.A. in Latin American studies and a concentration in Spanish. She fell in love with Latin American culture in high school by volunteering at a local elementary school in a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Houston. During that time, she also fundraised for and volunteered with Amigos de las Américas, a nonprofit that sent her to the Dominican Republic to collaborate with local youth and facilitate educational camps. At UT Austin, she was involved with Workers Defense Project, an organization that provides legal services, organizes fair employment initiatives, and politically empowers Texas workers. In summer 2014, Leah traveled alone to Peru, where she took buses and boats, befriended locals, and a stayed with an indigenous Amazonian family. After PiLA, Leah plans to pursue graduate degree in public policy, to inform a career in nonprofit work focused on education. In her free time, Leah hangs out with family, does art, hikes, and participates in a local Brazilian percussion group.
Conor graduated from the University of Michigan (2013), triple-concentrating in history, Spanish, and Latin American and Caribbean studies. Conor became actively involved in a number of social justice organizations, coordinating support programs for the university’s LGBTQ resource center and serving on the executive board of The Quito Project, an education development partnership. Conor also had the privilege of interning with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York during his senior year, where he assisted U.S. ambassadors in the U.N. Security Council. These experiences have proven instrumental in developing his interest in U.S. diplomacy in the Western Hemisphere. Following graduation, Conor moved to Bogotá, where he was a Fulbright Scholar, teaching English at Universidad Colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca and volunteering with Colombia Diversa, an LGBTQ political rights organization. After PiLA, Conor hopes to earn a Ph.D. in Latin American history and pursue an academic career. Conor looks forward to a fantastic year in Costa Rica working with Fundación Arias.
Sidney is a 2013 graduate of Cornell University, where she double-majored in international agriculture and rural development, and biology and society. At Cornell she pursued research and work opportunities in international development in Latin America and Africa. A Davis Projects for Peace grant and McKinley Family grant supported her research on food security with the NGO CEDICAM in Oaxaca, Mexico. After graduation, she continued to focus on smallholder food security and agro-ecology, performing research for Cornell in South Africa and Malawi, and undertook an internship with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Cuba. Through her education and experiences, she realized the potential and prominent role of smallholders in the international food system as well as the obstacles they face within it. She seeks a career in sustainable international development to effect positive change in the environment and farming communities around the world. After PiLA, she will travel to Guatemala on a Fulbright study and research grant to investigate the conservation and food security potential of traditional crops of the Q’eqchi’ Maya.
A Massachusetts native, Morris graduated from Cornell University (2015) with majors in government and Spanish and minors in Latin American studies and law and society. Volunteering with the Cornell Farmworker Program, he taught English, researched employer-employee relationships on farms, staffed legal clinics, and supported Mexican and Guatemalan consular visits to upstate New York. He also managed the weekly seminar series at Cornell’s Latin American Studies Program. Working for an education- and human rights-focused NGO in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, studying in Buenos Aires, and traveling in Ecuador and Brazil compelled him to return to Latin America. Morris enjoys learning languages and studied Portuguese and French in addition to his degree in Spanish. He is also an avid outdoorsman who enjoys backpacking and running. After PiLA, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in law and diplomacy.
Born in Peru, Valerie graduated from New York University (2014) with a degree in international politics. While at NYU, she also studied in Spain with concentrations in European politics and Spanish literature. An avid traveler, Valerie recently completed a Junior Fellowship for the United Nations University in Tokyo. She was a consultant in an impact-evaluation field study for FAIRTRASA farmer associations in northern Peru, work that informed her interest in monitoring and evaluation work. She has supported Ebola emergency preparedness at Médecins Sans Frontières USA (Doctors without Borders), developed capacity building workshops for Amazonian indigenous communities at Land Is Life, and produced performance reports for UNICEF USA. Valerie is very excited to join the WFP food-security analysis team, and looks forward to a rewarding experience living and working in Panama.
Sarah was born and raised in the woods of Connecticut, but always desired to leave the bubble of her hometown. She moved to Washington, D.C., aiming to study international affairs at George Washington University (2015), but ultimately her interest in Latin America guided her. She is a passionate and fun-loving person who always enjoys meeting new people and traveling. Ultimately, she seeks work that will have an impact and enact constructive change in the world.
Emilia graduated from Georgetown University (2015), double-majoring in government and Portuguese. After playing two years on the Georgetown women’s varsity soccer team, she decided to try something new and study abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was during her junior year abroad when she became passionate about childhood and community development. Aside from studying at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), she spent time volunteering for a program called “Soccer Girls,” which offers free English classes and soccer training for the young women of the Vidigal favela. She returned to Georgetown for her senior year and wrote an honors thesis on the structure of NGOs in Rio de Janeiro and their potential impact on the women of the communities. She looks forward to continuing her work in Rio’s favelas with the support of PiLA and Developing Minds.
Robert Shepherd graduated from Georgetown University (2015) with a double major in finance and international business. There he was a teaching assistant for a business strategy seminar, and chaired a student government committee overseeing an annual budget over $1M; he also worked as a barista at the Georgetown library coffee shop. His professional experiences include an internship in financial services advisory at Ernst and Young and an internship in corporate development at EverBank. His interest in Latin America traces back to his native Florida, where he began learning Spanish a decade ago. He explored this interest through a student exchange program in Spain and volunteer work at a Dominican Republic orphanage. Robert looks forward to merging his interests in business development, emerging markets, and Latin American culture and politics while working with Endeavor in Santiago.
In high school while working with the Boston public schools (BPS), Moriah realized that students could not only change oppressive school policies, but also utilize schools to eradicate oppression itself. This fueled her work at Wellesley College, where she majored in peace and justice studies with a concentration in education, focusing on the connections between race and education in the lives of African Indians (Siddis) and Afro-Brazilians. After graduation, she edited a textbook on apartheid with Facing History and Ourselves, and support talented youth of BPS with the Steppingstone Foundation. In 2014, she was a Fulbright English-teaching assistant in Ilhéus, Bahia, Brazil. There she discovered an enchanting small town, Serra Grande, alive with social movements. She looks forward to furthering her passions by returning to Serra Grande to support the NGO Floresta Viva in its educational initiatives, involving locals who work intimately on environmental sustainability.
Melanie graduated from Washington University in St. Louis (2015) with a major in urban studies and minors in architecture and Spanish. During her time there, she helped create—and was elected president of—the student group City Faces, whose mission is to support and enrich the lives of youth in a struggling St. Louis community by developing mentoring, tutoring, nutritional, and arts-based programming. Her time at City Faces inspired her to work with underserved youth and families and to promote positive and sustainable growth in developing communities. Interested in helping vulnerable communities develop through grassroots initiatives, she has interned with Children’s Defense Fund, a leading child advocacy organization; with Arch Development Corporation (Washington, D.C.); and with Community Arts and Movement Project (St. Louis). Melanie spent a semester in Argentina where she worked in Buenos Aires Villas, teaching music and English classes, while researching grassroots development strategies. She hopes to continue to learn from such communities, and eventually to pursue a masters in urban planning to help promote sustainable development.
Sara graduated from Yale University (2015) with a B.S. in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. She aspires to become a pediatrician and a future owner of a free healthcare clinic. As the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, she grew up speaking Portuguese and learned Spanish at Yale and in Quito, Ecuador through a Yale summer study abroad program. Growing up, she witnessed first-hand how health and education disparities affected her hometown of Newark, New Jersey. Wanting to implement service and change as a high school student, she organized soup kitchen trips, participated in education advocacy, taught catechism, and began a toy drive at a children’s hospital. At Yale, she continued to implement her passion for community service by tutoring New Haven youth, interpreting for Latino patients at a free health clinic, and by serving as a mentor for Yale minority students interested in STEM. She participated in education-related volunteer projects with disadvantaged youth in Morocco and China. She also conducted research at the Yale School of Medicine in a lab that focuses on developing future therapeutic targets of metabolic diseases, like diabetes. In her free time, Sara enjoys dancing, gastronomic photography, and traveling.
Claudia, a native of Washington Heights in New York City, graduated from Bowdoin College (2015), where she studied biology and Spanish literature. She is passionate about social and environmental justice issues, and is interested in exploring how the two intersect. She has conducted various ecological research projects, including studies of pelagic seabirds in the Bay of Fundy, of eel larvae in the Sargasso Sea, and of salamanders in western Massachusetts hemlock forests. She has participated in two study abroad semesters, the first with the Sea Education Association, where she sailed a tall ship from the Caribbean to New York City and conducted research while on board, and the second in Quito, Ecuador, where she was directly enrolled in an Ecuadorean university and volunteered at a local medical foundation. At Bowdoin Claudia has been very involved with Intersections: People, Planet and Power, a group of Bowdoin students and faculty who are committed to a holistic and inclusive discussion about injustice. In the future, Claudia hopes to participate in initiatives that use scientific data to inform public policy, environmental education, and community development projects, and to promote environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation as a means of achieving social justice.
Casey grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. During high school, he took several service trips to Honduras with a group that works with marginalized youth outside the capital, Tegucigalpa; the experience sparked his passion for Latin America. Recruited by the Princeton men’s lightweight rowing team, he studied politics and earned certificates in Spanish and Portuguese. After his sophomore year, he took up a summer internship in Santiago, Chile, at the Ministry of Education via the Princeton International Internship Program. In summer 2014, Casey worked on the trading floor at a major bank in New York City and learned a lot about himself and the professional world, coming away with an even stronger desire to work in Latin America and serve others. As a senior, Casey was the captain of the lightweight rowing team and wrote his politics thesis on the connection between autocratic consolidation and urban design in Latin American megacities. Casey enjoys hiking, running, and driving Jeep Wranglers.
Rachel is a graduate of Tufts University (2015), where she majored in anthropology and community health. She pursued pre‐med coursework at Tufts with a special interest in primary care. She has focused her academic pursuits primarily on global health equity and community empowerment. Rachel also served as co‐President of GlobeMed, a student group partnered with an NGO working on poverty alleviation in rural Nepal, where she coordinated various fundraising and advocacy projects. Locally she volunteered as a peer health educator in Boston high schools with Peer Health Exchange. Rachel spent a semester studying in Chile, on a program that allowed her to complete independent research on the cultural relevancy of rights‐based health care in indigenous communities. Back in Boston, she interned with a planning project in the Dominican community. She developed an allied project examining the US medical system’s impact on Dominican transnational immigrants’ lives. She also worked as a clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, where a project on patient‐centered prevention of hospital readmissions reinforced her understanding of sociocultural and political causes of serious health outcomes. She is excited to be working at El Liceo Científico teaching health and biology, and she looks forward to learning about the links between education, health, and community development.
Gabrielle earned a B.A. in history and Spanish with a minor in Latin American studies from Cornell University (2015), graduating Phi Beta Kappa. Four summers of work at a nonprofit pre-K program in her Northern California hometown inspired her interest in social justice and Spanish. She has pursued these interests through coursework at Cornell and through interning with a French international law firm. As an undergraduate, Gabrielle served as a Cornell University Ambassador to prospective students, and as chapter president of her 160–member sorority. She also spent a semester of her junior year studying in Buenos Aires. Upon returning, she researched the effects of U.S. solidarity movements on government policy towards the Chilean refugees that fled the Pinochet regime, a project published by the Cornell Historical Society.
Emily graduated from Middlebury College (2015), majoring in biology with a minor in global health. Her interests in health equity, global health, and the social determinants of disease inform her passion to become a physician. Her experience working with marginalized communities in the Dominican Republic led her to co-found Kids Connect (kidsconnect.org). She was co-director of development of GlobeMed at Middlebury for two years, where she wrote grant proposals to support its partner organization, Gardens for Health International in Rwanda. Studying with a School for International Training public health and traditional medicine program in Chile deepened her interest in Latin America, learning directly from indigenous leaders and health care workers about the health disparities in marginalized indigenous communities. Emily also volunteered as a medical interpreter for the Open Door Clinic in Middlebury, which provides free health care to uninsured adults in Addison County, Vermont, many of whom are migrant farm workers from Mexico. She enjoys running, swimming, playing soccer, and exploring the outdoors.
Danielle graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016 with a major in Political Economy and a concentration in International Development. Frequently traveling across world’s busiest border from her hometown in San Diego County, her interest in Latin American language and culture began at an early age. During her time as an undergraduate, she furthered that interest while studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she had the opportunity to conduct human rights-focused research regarding Chilean immigration law in association with the Human Rights Center and faculty at the Diego Portales University School of Law. While back in the Bay Area, Danielle held administrative positions at a workers’ rights advocacy organization and at the UC Berkeley School of Law; interned with the Center for Law, Energy and Environment; contributed to the Daily Californian as an avid sports reporter; and served as a tutor at Berkeley High School’s English Language Newcomers Program. She is excited to work with the DREAM Project in the Dominican Republic and learn more about nonprofit management before pursuing a career in immigration and refugee law.
Haley grew up in Burlington, Vermont, and graduated from Tufts University (2016) with a double major in biology and community health. In college she began exploring interests in the social determinants of health and health equity with GlobeMed at Tufts, where she led fundraising efforts for Nyaya Health, the chapter’s partner organization in Nepal. While at Tufts, she also worked as a research assistant for the Health Quality of Life Lab and taught English as a Second Language to Central American immigrants. In her junior year, she spent a semester studying public health and traditional medicine in Chile, and completed an independent study of women’s health in an indigenous Mapuche community. Haley is excited to spend the next year working at Hospitalito Atitlán, where she will be able to combine her interests in community development and public health before pursuing medical school. She enjoys painting, playing piano, and figure skating.
Malcolm Flynn graduated from Columbia University (2016) with a major in economics and minor in Latin American Studies. While there, he concentrated on the effects of crime and private enterprise on economic development in Latin America. His interest in the region came from a clichéd reading of One Hundred Years of Solitude; his interest in economic justice and criminality came from multiple trips to El Salvador, where he worked with U.S. manufacturers actively engaged in fighting gang-related poverty and violence. He’s excited to continue exploring the link between business and economic development with Endeavor Chile in Patagonia. In his free time, he enjoys skiing and surfing—two activities that, thanks to Chile’s unusual geography, are rarely more than a couple of hours apart.
Eve Woldemikael grew up in Irvine, California and graduated from Brown University in 2016 with a BA in Africana Studies. Eve is passionate about learning languages and is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and French and also studied Arabic. While at Brown, Eve became particularly interested in the subjects of race and identity, black feminism, migration, anti/postcolonialism, and community development. Through studying abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for six months, Eve developed an interest in Latin American cultural politics and antiracist feminist activism in the region. In the summer of 2015, Eve received a research award and returned to Rio to study the politics of forced labor in Brazil. She is committed to social justice and seeks to dismantle oppressive systems of all forms. Eve is excited to serve as the new Program Director at Building Dignity and learn about activism and community development in Villa El Salvador.
Ava graduated from Harvard College (2015) with a major in psychology and a minor in government. In college, Ava served as Director of Content for the Harvard International Review, co-directed a peer counseling group focused on sexual and reproductive health, and interned for a summer in the Office of the Secretary General at the OECD. As a research assistant for the Harvard Humanitarian Institute, she helped to produce an impact evaluation report on UNICEF’s Peacebuilding, Education, and Advocacy Programme in Uganda. She spent the summer before junior year volunteering with a community development NGO in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and left determined to find her way back to Latin America after graduation. She is excited to learn about the role of entrepreneurship in spurring robust and sustainable development during her year with Endeavor Chile. Having grown up in Toronto and spent college in Boston, she is also looking forward to her first winter without snow.
Abyssinia Lissanu of Somerset, Kentucky is a recent graduate of Princeton University (class of 2016), with a major in Politics and a certificate in Spanish Language and Culture. At Princeton, Abyssinia focused on education and human rights in coursework and community service. She has volunteered extensively domestically, leading a mentorship group for Princeton middle school students and overseeing student education groups at the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. She also volunteered abroad as an English teacher during her study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain, where she later returned to conduct research on immigration for her senior thesis. During the summer of 2015, as the Frank C. Carlucci’52 SINSI Scholar, Abyssinia interned in the U.S. Department of Education at the Office of English Language Acquisition. This year, she is excited to embark on a new journey in Costa Rica with the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, where she will be working on projects related to human rights and vulnerable populations. Abyssinia is an avid reader and marathon runner, and hopes to fully enjoy the pura vida that Costa Rica has to offer!
Ricardo grew up in Brownsville, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexican border at the center of coexisting cultures and traditions. He began engaging with issues of Latino leadership and education in high school with the National Hispanic Institute. He graduated from Southwestern University with a B.A. in Political Science in 2015. During his time at Southwestern he participated in the Paideia Program dedicated to civic engagement and intercultural learning. In 2014 Ricardo studied abroad in Buenos Aires where he was able to travel across the region including Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. The following semester he interned at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a Washington D.C.-based think tank where he was able to research and publish several articles reporting on hemispheric relations. After graduating Ricardo returned to South Texas to work at International Trading Services, Inc. an import-export house business.
Deidre Beck graduated from South Dakota State University (SDSU) in May 2016 with a double major in civil engineering and Spanish. During her undergraduate studies at SDSU she was very involved in the SDSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), serving as president and project lead. The chapter is currently working to provide clean drinking water to the Unidad Academica Campesina (UAC), a rural university in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia, through the implementation of chlorination and slow sand filtration. Deidre is very excited to continue to work with the UAC and SDSU EWB as Director of External Relations in the coming year. When she returns to the US, Deidre plans to pursue a career in water/wastewater engineering with a focus on sustainability. She also hopes to continue her involvement with developmental engineering projects, through programs such as EWB.
Julia graduated from Brown University (2016), concentrating in Economics with a focus on development in Latin America. Throughout college, Julia worked at the Capital Good Fund in Providence as a bilingual financial coach for low-income community members. During her junior year, she studied for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she conducted independent research on domestic workers in the informal sector. The following summer, Julia worked at Endeavor in NYC as an intern on the Insight research team. Julia is passionate about innovative, inclusive, and entrepreneurial solutions to sustainable development, and is thrilled to serve as a PiLA fellow at Pueblo a Pueblo this year!
Niki understood from a very young age the importance of education as a means of creating opportunities in a person’s life, especially in the developing world. A dual Honduran/USA citizen Niki grew up in an agricultural town in southern Honduras before moving to the capital city of Tegucigalpa as a 16 year old to live with family friends in her strive to attain a quality education. She found leaving her family difficult, but she felt it was worth it, and she was accepted at Vassar College right out of high school. At Vassar, Niki majored in International Studies with an emphasis on Political Science and Education and a regional concentration on Latin American. She was also an involved member of the student body at Vassar, working for the Office of International Services in support of the college’s international student community. After spending a semester abroad in São Paulo, Brazil Niki began to realize that her wish to help Latin America through education was becoming a passion. Niki will be testing her passion with Project Alianza in Nicaragua, where she will be helping sustain schools in rural coffee plantations.
Rachel graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park (2016) with a B.A. in Government and Politics and dual minors in Spanish and Law & Society. Rachel’s interest in Latin America first developed in high school, when she volunteered annually at Academia Natanael to help with educational development in the Yucatan peninsula, later completing a three-month internship onsite in 2012. In 2015, she spent time traveling and studying political science in a Spanish immersion program in Argentina. Rachel’s personal and professional interests lie in gender development and she has demonstrated her commitment to combatting violence against women and girls through her work experiences. While at UMD, she completed her Honors Citation capstone project on sex trafficking policy in the U.S. and interned with nonprofits such as Restoration Ministries and the Tahirih Justice Center in the Washington, D.C. area. In the future, Rachel plans to enroll in law school, pursuing a career of public service providing humanitarian legal aid to refugee women and girls, especially within Latin American populations.
Hailing from Littleton, Colorado, Annie Austin graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in May of 2015. At Georgetown, she studied Culture and Politics with a concentration in Political Economics in Latin America. Through a desire to promote social and economic development in distinct countries as well as Latin America as a whole, she studied, interned, and volunteered in the region. Annie paired those formative experiences with rigorous academic courses: she attained Spanish and Portuguese proficiency, while also matriculating into courses such as “Drug Trafficking in Latin America” and “Poverty, Well Being, and Social Exclusion in Latin America.” Dedicated to returning to the region post-grad, Annie pursued the opportunity to work alongside an organization promoting sustainable development: Endeavor Organization. At Endeavor Mexico City, she will be supporting social entrepreneurs as they refine and pitch their business model to the Endeavor team. Annie can’t wait to return to Mexico and explore the successes and challenges that Endeavor Mexico City faces.
Colorado native Angie Neslin graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University in 2016 with degrees in Hispanic Studies and American Studies. She believes everyone has a story and is committed to giving others the tools and spaces to share theirs. This commitment inspired her work with Youth for Debate, a nonprofit providing free debate and public speaking instruction at underserved schools in New York City, and with the Freedom and Citizenship program, which prepares high-achieving low-income high school seniors for engagement in American public life through a philosophy seminar taught by Columbia professors. During her semester abroad in Buenos Aires, she fell in love with Argentine rock music and wrote her honors thesis in Spanish on rock nacional as an emerging element of mass culture in post-dictatorship Argentina. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Latin American Studies and is thrilled to be joining the team at Fundación Abriendo Camino in Santo Domingo.
A San Francisco Bay Area native, Rachel Ozer-Bearson graduated from Macalester College in 2016 with a major in International Studies and minors in Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies. During her time at Macalester College, Rachel developed her passion for social justice and education. She collaborated with community partners while working for the Civic Engagement Center, completed an intensive teaching fellowship with Breakthrough Twin Cities, and taught English classes for adult English language learners at the Minnesota Literacy Council. During her senior year, Rachel expanded upon research from a semester abroad in Buenos Aires to write her senior capstone which explored the relationship between contemporary Senegalese immigration to Argentina and the historic invisibilization of afro-Argentines. Rachel is very excited to join Antigua International School, where she will be teaching middle-school social studies.
Originally from Warner Robins, Georgia, Tiffany graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish (2014). As a UGA student, in addition to studying educational methodology and pedagogy, Tiffany became involved in the local Hispanic community and developed a passion for addressing concerns affecting the community. After studying abroad and interning at an international school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tiffany developed an interest in narrative creation and popular portrayals of minority experiences. She received a research fellowship to return to Argentina and study the Afro-Argentine consciousness movement, there she interviewed grassroots organizations about their efforts to increase their visibility in the national Argentine narrative. Following graduation, Tiffany moved to Medellin, Colombia and started working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Universidad de Antioquia. There, she continued to nurture her interests in language and community narrative creation through her student and wider community interactions. She hopes to one day found a comprehensive Family Literacy Center and offer study abroad scholarships to students from underrepresented backgrounds. Tiffany is thrilled for the opportunity to bridge her interests in Latin America and community education through her work with Yspaniola.
Tiffany is also a recipient of the Christianson Grant from InterExchange to support her work with Yspaniola.
Nami graduated from New York University (2011) with a B.A. in politics with a concentration in international development and a double minor in Spanish and gender studies. After her freshman year, she interned at Ixchen—a women’s rights organization in Granada, Nicaragua—where she conducted rural workshops on reproductive rights and helped organized a nationwide march for gender equality. Throughout college, she continued to work and volunteer with mission-aligned organizations such as MADRE, the International Rescue Committee, and Girl Rising. After graduating, Nami joined an immigration law firm where she was able to work on pro bono cases assisting victims of domestic abuse in Latin America. Eager to return to her nonprofit roots, she then began working with New Women New Yorkers—a startup nonprofit providing leadership training and development to young immigrant women. Most recently, she managed communications at Hudson Guild, a social services nonprofit organization serving the low-income public housing population on the West Side of Manhattan. These experiences have all informed a passion for and interest in social justice and community development, and Nami is thrilled to join Starfish as its Communications Coordinator.
Karessa grew up in Brooklyn, and earned a Masters in Social Work at Smith College (2016). At Wheaton College she majored in African, African-American, and Diaspora Studies (2013) and took several Hispanic Studies courses. Karessa studied abroad in Puebla, Mexico and remembers asking herself, Where are the black people? This started her quest to learn about the African diaspora in Mexico. Karessa visited Afro-mestizo towns and learned that people of African descent have a rich cultural heritage in Mexico, despite being a marginalized group. Her experiences there were definitive in development of Spanish language skills, expansion in her worldview, and have motivated her to want to continue to travel and connect to the larger world. Karessa is proud of the mentoring programs she has been involved in, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. She believes that it is her responsibility to give back to others. It is her life’s mission to help other people of color—particularly youth of color who come from urban, low-income neighborhoods. She served as an AmeriCorps Massachusetts Promise Fellow at Sociedad Latina, a youth development organization in Boston. She developed the organization’s first alumni program providing opportunities for alumni to receive employment and college access opportunities.
Karessa and PiLA gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Amy Adina Schulman Memorial Fund in making her fellowship placement possible.
A San Francisco Bay Area native, Kayla Tamara Lemus was raised by her single mother, who instilled in her a love for Spanish and the Mexican culture. As a child of a Mexican immigrant, Kayla became increasingly aware of discrimination towards Latino immigrants in the U.S. It was through this recognition of prejudice that she became interested in education and foreign language learning as a means of promoting equality and intercultural understanding. A Scripps College graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and French, Kayla has also pursued foreign language study outside of her major including Modern Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, and Portuguese. During her time at Scripps College, Kayla studied abroad in Morocco and France, worked as a French and English teacher to both children and adults, and interned as a translator for Libraries Without Borders in Paris and l’AMSAT in Rabat. In addition, her growing interest in NGO work led her to intern as a grant writer for Claremont Heritage in Claremont, California. The intercultural exchanges she has had and the relationships she has developed within these communities has enriched her understanding of these regions’ histories and socio-political issues. As a Latina, these realizations have inspired her to return to her roots in Latin America, where she will be working for Yspaniola, an educational non-profit in the Dominican Republic that serves Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent.
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Jacob graduated from Macalester College with majors in International and Hispanic Studies and a concentration in Human Rights. A desire to promote regional integration and development in the Caribbean has long motivated Jacob. He has worked at the University of the West Indies’ Latin America Caribbean Centre (LACC)-dedicated to enhancing interconnectivity among Latin American and Caribbean Higher Education Institutions- as a research assistant, English tutor and interpreter. In 2015, Jacob interned at the Jamaican embassy in Washington, DC where his work with the mission to the OAS further sensitized him to the challenges facing citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean. He later created a database of educational opportunities in the US for Jamaican youth, which he shared with his government’s scholarship unit. Fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Jacob volunteered at the Jane Addams School for Democracy in St. Paul, MN, helping Latino/a immigrants navigate the resettlement process and prepare for their citizenship tests. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career in law, but is currently excited about returning to the Caribbean and joining Yspaniola’s team in the Dominican Republic.
Emma graduated from Western Kentucky University with double major in International Affairs and Spanish, and a minor in International Business (2016). While at WKU Emma volunteered within two refugee resettlement organizations where she focused on job development and cultural orientation. Emma continued to explore the relationship between forced migration and economics as a project intern within the NGO Cives Mundi in Spain, where she collaborated on development projects to promote economic recuperation in Lebanese refugee camps. Emma spent her last semester studying Latin American culture and economics in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she focused on the relationship between economic growth and wealth inequality. This year, Emma is excited to work Mariposa Foundation where she will focus on developing job training and financial independence courses for girls as they prepare to enter the workforce.
Mackenzie graduated from Swarthmore College (2015) with a B.A. in political science and minor in Latin American studies. She has taught in Guatemala, worked with families displaced by guerilla and paramilitary violence in Colombia, supported programs at the Ecuadorian Fulbright Commission, and spent eight months with an organization serving 30,000 indigenous clients in an environmental lawsuit in Ecuador. On the policy side, she has interned for the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. State Department in Peru, where she updated the human rights portfolio and screened potential recipients of U.S. funding for human rights violations. She spent the past year studying Portuguese and law in Rio de Janeiro as a Boren Scholar. Mackenzie hopes to more effectively support institution building and equitable economic development in the Americas.
Adam graduated from Georgetown University (2016) with a degree in Spanish & Portuguese Studies and Education, Inquiry, & Justice. While at Georgetown, Adam taught English and coordinated language tutoring and wraparound support services for recently arrived English language learners and their families. In the process, he discovered a passion for education and language access, which he brought to the interior of Southeastern Brazil as a volunteer English instructor in the summer after his freshman year. He returned to Brazil the following summer to conduct ethnographic research on best practices in early childhood community health education while coordinating the program through which he’d taught. Returning once more to his host community in Brazil as an independent-status study abroad student, Adam spent his junior year teaching English in a rural public middle school, conducting ethnographic research on educational purpose and promise as Georgetown’s David Andretta Fellow, and leading the re-founding of Learning Enterprises Brazil. Adam looks forward to marrying his passion for education and language planning with a deep interest in Latin America as an advocate and researcher with and for learners in the States and abroad.
Hailing from Palmerton, Pennsylvania, Karl Pielmeier graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University (2016), majoring in culture and politics with a concentration on the spatiality of technology and globalization. For a semester of his junior year, Karl lived in Argentina, where he and his cohorts created and mapped social development indexes at the University of Buenos Aires. He looks forward to returning to the Southern Cone once again – this time, in Paysandú, Uruguay – to work alongside the students and faculty at Liceo Francisco. In his free time, Karl enjoys swimming, reading, and making pysanky eggs.
Roald Quintero graduated from Harvard University (2016), majoring in economics with a minor in statistics. He was born in Colombia, and moved to Los Angeles as a teen. He took off two years between high school and college to help start up a business in Colombia, the basis for his interest in economics and economic development. During 2016–17 he will serve as a social investment programs associate with Global Partnerships in Managua.
Tess graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2014 with a major in Spanish and minor in Latin American Studies. As an undergraduate she studied abroad in Cuzco, Peru, an experience that launched her interest in Andean literatures and cultures, particularly the experiences of Andean youth. While there she researched the impact of Peruvian reality TV programing on youth identity formation, and upon returning home completed a senior honors thesis on discrimination against Peruvian Quechua-speakers. Tess recently completed an M.A. in Spanish at UNH, where she continued her study of Andean youth culture and the performance of cultural identities. Tess is excited to return to South America and continue her exploration of Andean cultures, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with CENIT. In her spare time Tess enjoys reading, trail running, and taking care of the animals on her family’s small farm.
Jaysel graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in December 2015 with a degree in International Economics. In college, he was involved in several student microfinance clubs, a student investment fund, and an Indian dance team. During a semester abroad at the University of Buenos Aires, he volunteered as a loan advisor at a local microfinance nonprofit. This year, Jaysel is returning to Buenos Aires to work with high-impact business ventures to learn about entrepreneurship on a much larger scale at Endeavor Argentina. Prior to starting the PiLA fellowship, Jaysel worked in transfer pricing at Deloitte in Washington, D.C. and spent a summer interning at Citi in Latin American finance. In his free time, Jaysel enjoys learning new languages, running, and hiking in his native York, Pennsylvania. As part of his latest challenge, Jaysel has dedicated himself to the lofty mission of finding the best piece of meat in Buenos Aires.
Pranayeta "Shonty" Shroff graduated from Smith College (2014) with a sociology major and a Spanish minor. Her interest in the economic, social, and cultural development of marginalized communities in Latin America stems from a summer learning from activists and community organizations in Costa Rica. After spending 4 months in Spain solidifying her Spanish, Shonty worked with Latin@ communities in the US through education based internships. At a GED training center for Puerto Rican populations in Western Massachussets, she executed an independent research project on how identifying and deploying already existing community assets in the classroom motivates students. She was subsequently able to practice the pedagogical strategies she researched while teaching English in Cali, Colombia, as part of a government program aimed at job creation. In her free time, she likes to run, read, dance bachata, and be an overly enthusiastic fan of Cali's football teams.
Camila grew up in Quito, Ecuador. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2016 with Highest Honors in Anthropology. In addition to her academic coursework, Camila pursued her interests in education and research while at Kenyon. She served as a Spanish Teaching Assistant and a Writing Center Liaison and Tutor on campus and spent one summer in Quito as a full-time middle school teacher. For the past three summers, she has undertaken research opportunities nationally (with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and internationally (in Mexico in 2014 and in the Philippines in 2016). In the future, Camila hopes to combine these two strands of experience through a career in educational research.
Gabriela Elena Weldon (Gabi) grew up in Boulder, Colorado and graduated from Harvard College (2016) with a degree in History and Literature of Latin America. Her mom is Brazilian, and her interest in Latin America was sparked at an early age through visits to her extended family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She studied and interned in the region throughout her time in college, working in areas related to human rights and education. Gabi wrote her senior thesis about the evolution of contestation in favelas in Rio through music, literature and film. She is very excited to be working in São Paulo this year with Worldfund, a non-profit that works to improve public education in Latin America.
Delaine is a native of Northampton, Massachusetts and a graduate of Wesleyan University (2016), where he majored in Latin American Studies and Biology. He spent the fall of 2014 studying in Havana, Cuba, where he was immersed in wonderful music and frequent reminders of his inability to salsa. Delaine’s professional interests stem from a commitment to socially and environmentally conscious community development as well as local and indigenous empowerment. He is thrilled to spend the year at Hospitalito Atitlán learning to put these values into practice in public health work. Delaine also can’t wait to hike Atitlán’s many volcanoes and get to know the Tz’utujil culture (and hopefully keep improving his salsa game while he’s at it) during his PiLA year.
Ana was born in Mexico but raised in Dallas, Texas by two immigrant parents from Panama and Honduras. She grew up spending her vacations in Panama and in Honduras. Ana graduated with a BA from Columbia University in 2016, and she double majored in Political Science and French. During her years at Columbia, Ana interned at various nonprofits in the Dallas area that aimed to help undocumented immigrants with legal representation and provide other critical services such as food and shelter. She has always had a personal and academic interest in Central America; as a child, Ana organized an annual school supplies drive for Panama. In college, she wrote many research papers about the interaction of political, social, and economic factors in Guatemala and Honduras, in particular. This long enduring passion for Central America led her to intern for a fair trade nonprofit in Brooklyn that sold indigenous women’s textile work from Panajachel, Guatemala. Thus, Ana decided to move to Guatemala to work at Cojolya Association of Maya Weavers in order to continue expanding fair trade opportunities and economic independence for women in the Lake Atitlán region. Ultimately, Ana plans to attend law school and specialize in immigration law.
Zach graduated from American University (2014) with a BA in international studies and Spanish and Latin America language and area studies. Subsequently he studied at the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, and carried out research at the Mexico Solidarity Network in Tlaxcala, Chiapas, and Mexico City, researching international development, grassroots community organizing, and the monitoring and evaluation of social change. He has interned at the US Agency for International Development in the Office of the Inspector General, Global Kids, Inc., and Sister Cities International (all in Washington, DC). Zachary also has volunteered with Smiles with Hope/Sonrisas con Esperanza (Costa Rica), Hope for the Children Foundation (Nicaragua), and DC Reads and Big Brothers, Big Sisters (Washington, DC). During his 2014-2015 PiLA fellowship, Zachary worked as the Volunteer Coordinator at the Centro de la Niña Trabajadora in Quito, Ecuador. Continuing as a PiLA senior fellow, he worked with the World Food Programme in Quito.
A Philadelphia native, Elizabeth earned her B.A. in government, a secondary field in Spanish, and a certificate in Latin American studies from Harvard College (2015). Her interest in Latin America began during the summer after her freshman year in Santiago, Chile, studying social transformation under two Harvard professors. In her junior year, she spent a semester in Buenos Aires, where she later returned with a grant from the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies to complete research on her senior thesis, which investigated political intervention into Argentina’s statistics institute. She has also studied Portuguese. At Harvard, Elizabeth was heavily involved with the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, serving as an executive editor and leading the training of students joining the staff. Elizabeth is very excited to work at Endeavor in Mexico for a second year as PiLA senior fellow and Endeavor staffer.
Theresa graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Spanish (2014). It has long been her goal to work in every Spanish-speaking country. Theresa’s passion for Latin America and the Spanish language has taken her to Argentina to study health care and public health policy. In spring 2013, she studied Hispanic literature in Sevilla. That summer she interned with Médicos del Mundo in Madrid and helped to evaluate the organization’s endeavors in Africa and Latin America. Her main interests lie in global health, community outreach, masculinity and how perceptions of masculinity impact health outcomes and health-seeking behavior. In 2014, Theresa won the Parker Huang Undergraduate Travel Fellowship to conduct a yearlong investigation of the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents in rural Mexican communities. With Comunidad Connect, Theresa is excited to augment her appreciation of Latin America while deepening her understanding of the health needs of rural communities. She will continue for a second year with Comunidad Connect as a PiLA senior fellow.
Keara grew up in Houston, Texas where she attended high school at YES Prep, which in name and practice, stands for Youth Engaged in Service. At YES she planned service projects in partnership with community development organizations in Ghana and Ecuador. Keara went on to grtaduate from Harvard University (2012) where she studied sociology with a focus on the study of inequality. Through the Harvard College in Cuba program, she studied that nation’s tourist industry and its social impact on the island, and fell in love with the history and culture of the Caribbean. Since graduating, Keara has been an advocate for community-based initiatives that focus on the healthy development of children, especially those who are living in under-resourced communities through her work at KaBOOM!, the DC Social Innovation Project and the Bolivia Life Center. After her first PiLA year with Yspaniola, Keara remains in the Dominican Republic as a PiLA senior fellow, working with the young women served by the Mariposa DR Foundation.
Keara and PiLA gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Amy Adina Schulman Memorial Fund in making her fellowship possible. Keara is also a recipient of the Christianson Grant from InterExchange for her work with Mariposa.
Grace graduated from Northwestern University (2013) with a degree in psychology and minors in global health and English literature. After graduation, Grace moved to Panama City as a program associate for Global Brigades, a community health and development organization working in rural Panama. There she served as the link between North American volunteers and the local Panamanian staff, and planned, executed, and followed up with rural clinics and public health projects. In August 2015, Grace began her PiLA fellowship with Comunidad Connect in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, where she focused primarily on data management and a community garden project. She remained at Comunidad Connect as a PiLA senior fellow in 2016-17.
Isabel grew up in the New York City suburbs and graduated from Northwestern University (2015) with a double major in social policy and international studies, and a minor in global health. Her Mexican heritage and regular visits to Mexico inspired a particular interest in Latin America, which propelled her to study in Chile. During that time, she had the privilege of working with Educación Popular en Salud, a community health organization fostering local participation and empowerment. She immersed herself in the participatory model, and learned that the most direct way to teach and learn is to initiate dialogue. She views her engagement in both health and education as synergetic, and plans to pursue a master’s in public health and work in public policy to create structural change to reduce health disparities and foster health literacy. Along with academics, she has pursued theater, and during her senior year produced the 73rd Annual Dolphin Show, a longstanding Northwestern tradition, and the nation’s largest student-produced musical. She remained as a PiLA senior fellow with Aprender con Interés through December 2016.
Anne-Sophie grew up in a home where German and French were spoken daily, which instilled a prevailing desire to foster intercultural dialogue. She was a peer mentor for international studies majors at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ, 2014), where she double-majored in international studies (with a focus on Latin America) and Spanish. At TCNJ she honed creative communication and teaching skills for three years, leading oral proficiency tutorials for college-entry foreign language classes in French, German, and Spanish. Her passion for languages and cultures reflects an innate desire to expand her horizons, share her knowledge with others, and promote the universal human rights of education and freedom of speech through intercultural exchange. In 2014–15, Anne-Sophie was a PiLA fellow with El Centro Educativo Trilingüe Nuevo Amanecer, in Parramos, Guatemal; in 2015–16 she served with the World Food Programme in Haiti. She will be a senior fellow with Yspaniola in 2016–17.
Aron earned a B.A. in Latin American and Caribbean studies at Brown (2015), where he studied urban anthropology and focused on the formation of cultural spaces in Latin America and the United States. During college, Aron also authored Piecing Together São Paulo, a historical and cultural guide to the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Aron will continue to work with Aprender con Interés on education reform and policy in Mexico as a Senior Fellow.
Born to Colombian parents, Lorena was empowered from a young age to establish her Colombian-American identity while also maintaining a strong connection to her Latin heritage. Growing up, Lorena traveled to Colombia often, allowing her the opportunity to draw parallels between the inequalities that exist in Colombia and in the United States. Thus inspired, she was determined to dedicate her life to increase access to healthcare and education for immigrant and minority populations in Latin America and the US. Lorena earned her bachelor’s in international affairs, with a dual concentration in Latin American studies and international development and a minor in sociocultural anthropology at The George Washington University (2013). There she participated in service-based programs focused on development, education and international fieldwork. Prior to her PiLA fellowship, Lorena worked for the global health and emergency response organization, AmeriCares. She served as associate and senior associate for the Middle East and Africa team, expanding her understanding of the global health landscape by collaborating with 14 NGOs and ministries of health, and facilitating the delivery of life-saving medicines and supplies to underserved populations. Lorena is thrilled to continue working with DREAM as the Deportes para La Vida monitoring and evaluation PiLA senior fellow.
A Fort Worth, Texas native, Jesús graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Science, Technology & Society, and a minor in Latin American studies (2013). While studying in Santiago de Chile, Jesús put his academic and entrepreneurial interest to work with the microfinance startup InVenture Fund. In addition to internships in nonprofits and corporate organizations during his undergraduate years, Jesús worked on his own startup TxtRoo, an SMS deals-and-reviews platform. Since graduating, Jesús worked for Deloitte as a management consultant on operations, strategy, healthcare, and divestiture projects. Other project work includes pro bono consulting for nonprofits in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Guatemala. Jesús spent his first PiLA fellowship year with Global Partnerships in their Managua office, serving as the first Social Investment Associate and will be expanding his role to Nairobi, Kenya as a PiLA senior fellow during 2016-17.
Robin graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (2015) with a B.S. in culture and politics. She focused on Latin American international development, and earned a certificate in Spanish. She grew up in Chicago and London, and undertook formative service trips to Angola and Haiti. In 2012, after studying at Universidad San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador, she volunteered on a coffee cooperative in a rural Andean community. She later worked with Amigos de las Americas, supervising twelve youth volunteers and four sustainable development projects in Panama. As a community education volunteer in the Sacred Valley of Peru, Robin worked with an indigenous women’s textile cooperative and led environmental awareness activities in local schools. She broadened her experience during a semester in Copenhagen, where she worked with the Danish Red Cross and managed the public relations of an asylum-seeker resource center. In her final year at Georgetown, she interned in the Office of Government and External Affairs of the Inter-American Foundation, assisting the federal agency with channeling development assistance to communities across Latin America. Robin became a PiLA fellow in 2015 with Pueblo a Pueblo in Guatemala where she worked as a Grants Associate and a Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator. She was so inspired by the community that she is continuing with Pueblo a Pueblo for a second year as a senior PiLA fellow.
Erica graduated from American University (2015) with a double major in international relations and economics, and a minor in Spanish. Her interest in Latin America began after traveling to Nicaragua to examine the effects of globalization and U.S. foreign policy on farmers and labor unions, and studying international tourism’s impact on farming communities in El Salvador. Environmental issues such as agricultural sustainability and water accessibility have informed her passion for ecology (she also enjoys hiking, climbing, skiing, and exploring the outdoors). While studying in Chile, she volunteered with an environmental education organization. The experience inspired her to create a similar program for a Washington, D.C. arts-based mentorship program for African American males, Life Pieces to Masterpieces—whose youth and staff have shaped her perspective profoundly during four years of volunteering there. Erica is excited and honored to focus on community development and youth education at Yspaniola for an additional 6 months as a Senior Fellow.