Featured Alumni

Biking on the Inca Trail (Perú), by Robin Trangsrud ‘06We love hearing from Bowdoin graduates who majored or minored in Spanish (or in Romance Languages with Spanish). Their messages inspire our work and help prospective or current majors and minors envision their future paths. Some of our alumni have just answered the question “How are you using your Spanish after graduation?”  

Others have shared more of where they are in life. Due to space considerations, some entries have been edited or condensed. 

Keep us updated: kflahert@bowdoin.edu


Biking on the Inca Trail (Perú), by Robin Trangsrud ‘06

Most recent entries: Liz Moe ’06 – Erica Camarena ’10 – Gillian Page ’10 -  Julia Garner '01


Rachel Ackerman ‘09

I am applying to medical school and have done clinical diabetes research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. A good number of the research subjects that we have in our database are Spanish speaking, so I've had to speak Spanish on the phone to many of them in order to explain the study that I am leading.

Christopher H. Aidone ‘95

I have been working in the filed of investment banking since graduating.  For a period of time, approximately 5 years, I was frequently travelling to Central and South America, representing companies looking for either acquisitions or buyers among US or non Latin companies.  I am now starting to get active again speaking to institutional investors in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain.

Elena Albarrán ‘98

I’ve been teaching Latin American Studies and History at Miami University of Ohio since Fall 2008, after obtaining my PhD in History from the University of Arizona. My book project, Children of the Revolution: Constructing the Mexican Citizen, 1920-1940, examines the development of cultural nationalism through children’s popular culture in revolutionary Mexico. My husband, Juan Carlos, joined the Latin American Studies faculty as well here at Miami, and we welcomed Noel Lewis Leblanc Albarrán a few years ago to our “LAS family.”

Mike Appaneal ‘92

My Spanish language skills have minor direct implications in my business life. As an Employee Benefits executive, I’ve had occasions to communicate in both verbal and written form with groups of employees of a Latino background but it is a rare occurrence. What has benefited me greatly from our program in the business world was my study abroad experience in Madrid. Learning to deal with different cultures and how to adapt to differing languages, cultures, politics, and overall differing perspectives on life has been invaluable. I run a field sales/ distribution channel across the Northeast for an Oregon based company. Believe it or not, there are big cultural differences between Northwest US and the East Coast, where my employees are. The life lessons from my time in Madrid have helped me deal with and manage diverse opinions and even communications styles effectively.


Katherine Baldwin ’98

I graduated as a Spanish major with a minor in Latin American Studies. Since then, I have been working and living in New York City as a bilingual elementary school teacher. I started teaching with Teach for America in 1998, and was initially placed at a school in the Bronx. I taught the 3rd grade bilingual class, and most of my students were from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and they all spoke Spanish at home. After 4 years I moved to a different school where I currently work in the Dual Language program. I work with both Spanish- and English-speaking students who come from all over the world: Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. The Spanish-speaking students in my class are learning English while at the same time maintaining their literacy skills in Spanish. The English-speaking kids are learning both English and Spanish too.

Sira Berte ’91

After graduation, I started working in Washington, DC for Senator Dodd, who was chairman of the Senate´s Committee on Western Hemisphere Affairs.  The highlight was the day Rigoberta Menchú came to our offices!  I left the Hill and worked in Latin American small business development for various agencies, and then received my MBA from the University of Maryland, where I had the opportunity to study with economists in Havana. My husband, Brian Pearson, and I then moved back up to Maine, and after 4 years we sold our possessions to travel overland for six months from Chile to Ecuador, following the original Inca Trail. We even surprised the family I had lived with in Quito during Bowdoin junior year. We then moved to Santiago, Chile, where I consulted for the Ministerio de Economía, Ford Foundation and UNDP, on Chilean small business development for two years.  For the following three years, I developed executive level courses throughout the region for business professionals. My husband and I also started a boutique tourism company called Santiago Adventures (www.santiagoadventures.com). 

Sarah Bowdoin, please see Sarah Thomas ’06


Erica Camarena ’10

After graduating from Bowdoin, I have been working with indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, in support of the creation of community museums. I also worked with an NGO that focuses on sustainable development. I am getting ready to begin my Master’s in Sustainable Development at UC Davis in the near future. 

Vernon Castillo ’97

After graduating from Bowdoin, I spent two years and three months in Paraguay as a beekeeping extensionist.  I returned to the US in 1999 and received my MA from the University of New York at Albany in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.  Since then I have been working at Union College as a Senior Associate Dean and am hoping to complete my Ph.D. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 

Christine Cloonan ‘02

After graduating with a major in Spanish and a minor in Economics, I spent two years as an analyst at a corporate law firm in Boston. I had the opportunity to use my Spanish skills to translate legal documents and to interpret for attorneys and clients. I then spent five years teaching Spanish at boarding schools while completing my M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College before accepting a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to spend a year studying finance in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Emily Coffin ‘08

After graduation, I moved to Philadelphia to be a staffer on the Obama campaign working with the Youth Vote team in Pennsylvania. It was an incredible experience and my Spanish helped when I was out working in the field. I am now the Entrepreneurship Advisor/Asesora de Emprendimiento and work within the Adult Literacy Program at Safe Passage (Guatemala City, Guatemala).  My principal focus has been supporting the women's recycled jewelry collective, CREAMOS (Creaciones con Reciclaje Esperanza y Amor por Madres Organizadas y Solidarias). Over the past three years, the company has grown from a small workshop for Safe Passage mothers to a thriving company that sells jewelry throughout Guatemala and is beginning to export to the US (soon to be in the Bowdoin Bookstore!) Most importantly, almost all of the 25 women have been able to leave working in the city garbage dump, now on average earning about 40 percent more than they would in the dump. We also launched a sewing initiative and already have orders pouring in. We have redoubled our efforts to develop self-sustaining economic opportunities for parents as they continue their education. More than just the language skill, I appreciate the background I developed in Latin America culture, literature, and history through my Spanish classes.

Ashley Conti 07

From the April 2011 issue of the Bowdoin Magazine:  “I recently left investment banking to join a Spanish-speaking microfinance institution that provides small loans to women in Latin America.”


Monica Dargin Rushford ‘01

I graduated from Bowdoin with a double major in Spanish and Sociology in 2001, and I have been able to use my degree in a few different capacities since then. (Currently, I'm an attorney and I work for the US Dept of Health & Human Services, so no real connection there.) After graduation, I worked in Boston at the non-profit, The Network/La Red, an organization that works to combat domestic violence among lesbian, bisexual women and transgender communities. We provided hotline services in English and Spanish, and my proficiency in Spanish was a factor in helping me get the job. After that, I was a paralegal in a law office in Oakland, CA and regularly had to translate for Spanish-speaking clients.

Jonathan Dolan ‘03

Following graduation in 2003, I moved to Honduras to teach 6th grade at a bilingual school.  I found the position through a small NY-based non-profit called Bilingual Education for Central America (BECA).  Upon the end of the academic year, I decided to stay in Honduras for a few months to work as a translator for Operation Wallacea, a British conservation group that was doing research in the Honduran cloud forests. Upon my return to the US, I accepted a position with the SEEP Network, a microfinance association in DC, where I stayed for two years.  Through this job, I had the good fortune to be able to travel regularly to various parts of Latin America and Africa.  I completed my MS in Foreign Service at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service in 2009 (where one needs to pass a proficiency exam in a second language to graduate, mine was Spanish).  Since that time, I have been consulting with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.  My projects with IFC include work in both the agribusiness and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors.  In both cases, my projects have been about linking rural entrepreneurs in emerging markets to local, regional, and international markets. I got married to someone I met during my semester abroad in Chile, and we are hoping to move abroad again in the future. 

Ellen Driver ‘02

I worked as an immigration paralegal right out of Bowdoin at an immigrant community organization in Cambridge, MA.  Most of the clients are Central American immigrants and I used Spanish to help clients prepare immigration cases and to participate in community organizing.  After that I worked as an immigration paralegal at a small immigration law firm in Cambridge, MA and I decided to apply for law school.  I graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in 2009 and completed internships in the areas of public benefits, domestic violence, and immigration law, and my Spanish was helpful in all these experiences.  I am now working at a small immigration law firm in Boston, MA, mostly on deportation and asylum cases, and I use Spanish with clients on a daily basis.  Speaking Spanish has helped me to get every job and internship so far. 


Sarah Edgecom ‘03

I have been practicing law in Miami for a few years and am about to wrap up a Masters in International Legal Studies at NYU School of Law in May 2011.


Andy Falkof ’99

I don't use Spanish every day but it is a great tool that opens up new worlds and opportunities: Working on a PR agency's Spanish HIV/AIDS awareness campaign for the CDC; playing on a South American soccer team in DC; building a Spanish language call option for a health clinic; publishing short policy articles in Latin America; serving as an informal translator between American citizens and new arrivals to the U.S. I am currently working on the selection of a Hispanic marketing agency of record for my company.

Karen Finnegan ’03

After graduating from Bowdoin, I spent a few years working in an urban community health center in Boston where I focused on health education and community outreach. In May 2008, I received my MPH in Epidemiology from Emory University and moved to DC. I am now working as a health analyst on international health research projects with an emphasis on HIV and family planning services in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Melissa Perrelli Foley ‘94

My first job after graduating in 1994 was with the MA state Dept. of Public Health. For about 5 years, I worked making health education materials and doing various forms of outreach to Spanish-speaking populations around the state. Next, I worked for Houghton Mifflin Co. publishing house in their college textbooks division as an editorial assistant for the Modern Languages group. We published both texts and collections of new fiction in Spanish and other romance languages.

Katherine Ford ‘99

After graduation I got my Masters in Spanish at Middlebury in Madrid.  In 2006 I finished a doctorate at Emory University in Latin American Theater. Since then I’ve been teaching at East Carolina University. My husband Rufino and I had a baby girl, Julia, and in 2010 my first book came out, Politics and Violence in Cuban and Argentine Theater (New York:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), which examines how violence was used as a spectacle in Cuban and Argentine theater in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a reflection of and a dialogue with the violence occurring in the public arena.

Casey Freedman ‘09

Since graduating from Bowdoin, I've been working in Madrid as an "auxiliar de conversación" at a bilingual public school, teaching elementary school students English and Science. Even though I'm not allowed to speak Spanish at school lest the students use that fact as a crutch instead of working to communicate in English, my fluency in Spanish and familiarity with Spanish culture and history that I gained through coursework at Bowdoin (and abroad) is infinitely helpful on a daily basis both in and outside the classroom. I am looking forward to getting my masters degree in Spanish sometime in the next 2 years and eventually plan on becoming a Spanish teacher.



Julia Garner '01
Julia Garner received her M.A. in Hispanic Studies from Brown University, and is currently completing her Ph.D. at Brown with a dissertation entitled “After the Earthquake: Literary Responses to Catastrophe in Mexico City, 1985-2000”. Her research interests include: 20th century Mexican novels, Mexico City’s visual culture and urban art, Latin American cultural studies and film studies, Peruvian narrative, novels of the “fin de siglo” and the 21st century. She has lived in Ecuador and Mexico, and has traveled extensively throughout Latin America. She is a lecturer in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Virginia.

Tiana Gierke O’Konek ‘03

I work for the legal department of the United Farm Workers Union. My husband and I live in Tehachapi, CA – 5 minutes away from UFW headquarters. The UFW has summer internships and spring break opportunities for college students.  Both are great opportunities for students to learn about César Chávez, dig through some of the historic documents that need to be organized at the UFW headquarters, practice their Spanish, and learn more about farmworkers' rights and struggles.

Shelley Goulder, ’07

After graduation I worked as a counselor at a girls summer camp in Damariscotta, Maine. Then I moved down to Boston to work as a full time tutor and teaching assistant at the MATCH Charter Public High School. I tutored five students daily in every subject imaginable, and loved every minute of it. This year I am working at the new MATCH Middle School. I provide support for the Academic Resources Department, plan field trips, among a myriad of other tasks.

Todd Greenwood ’04

I went to a graduate school (Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies) which required foreign language proficiency. I was able to pass out immediately without taking any classes. I spent the first year of grad school at the Bologna, Italy campus.  My knowledge of Spanish made learning Italian much easier.  And whenever I got into a jam (frequently in the beginning since I lived with an Italian that didn't know much English), I spoke Spanish and was more understood than I otherwise would have been. Immediately after grad school I served as an election observer for the OAS in Guatemala. Outside of this brief OAS job, my Spanish hasn't really been too useful in the workplace (I've worked in Congress and DOJ), but I'm thinking about applying for the Foreign Service soon so that could change.

Michelle Greet ’93

I received my Ph.D. in Modern Latin American art from New York University in 2004. I am now a tenured professor of Latin American art history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. My book, Beyond National Identity: Pictorial Indigenism as a Modernist Strategy in Andean Art, 1920-1960 was published by Penn State University Press in 2009. I gave two talks in conjunction with a traveling exhibition of the work of the Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín at Georgetown University and the Art Museum of the Americas and traveled to Florida Atlantic University to give yet another presentation on the artist. I have also published several articles and received a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC to work on a book project on Latin American artists in Paris between the two world wars.

Julia Guerrero Reed ’06

One year after graduating from Bowdoin, I went to graduate school at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to get a Master's degree in Library Science.  I began working at the Newberry Library in Chicago in October of 2006, and have been there since then, slowly working my way up the career ladder.  I am now the Senior Library Assistant of General Collections at the Newberry. My education as a Spanish major at Bowdoin has actually been very relevant and has given me an edge over other job applicants at the Newberry.  The Library has a very strong Spanish and Latin American collection, including many primary sources such as the earliest existing copy of the Popol Vuh, as the Spanish colonization of the Americas is one of the library's strongest subject areas.  These are the extra projects I have been able to take on because of my Spanish skills: I have evaluated fellowship applications in the area of Latin American and Iberian studies; written reference letters in Spanish and assisted patrons in Spanish when they visit library; monitored a show-and-tell for Latin American genealogists; proofread the Spanish-language version of the Newberry Library brochure; created an orientation-to-the-reading-rooms handout in Spanish that is given out at the Welcome Desk; translated a 14th c. Spanish inscription for a scholar-in-residence who needed it for a presentation at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Emily Guerin ’09

After graduation, I led wilderness trips in New Mexico and then taught environmental education at Ferry Beach Ecology School in Saco, Maine. then I interned for the public radio show “Living on Earth” in Boston. I then moved to Portland where I became a freelance journalist and waitress at a Latin American restaurant. I am now a reporter for The Forecaster newspaper covering Brunswick and Harpswell.


Jenny Harvey ‘04

After leaving Bowdoin, I did Teach For America in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  I used my Spanish degree to communicate with the parents of 90% of my second grade students and to explain, translate, and teach, in a mixture of Spanish, English, and something in between!  Last year, I taught in San Pedro Sula, Honduras at an International Duel Language School.  I then taught bilingual 4th grade in Austin, Texas. I will be pursuing a Masters in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and University of Texas at Austin. Estoy en mi sexto año como maestra en la escuela primaria bilingüe.  Enseñé por tres años en el sur de Tejas cerca de la frontera con México.  El año pasado, viví y enseñé en Honduras.  Luego he vivido en Austin, Tejas enseñando el cuarto grado bilingüe en una escuela pública. Tengo intención de hacer estudios de posgrado en educación aquí.

Benjamin Hess “Jamie” ’02

I am currently working as an International Development Fellow with Catholic Relief Services in Guatemala. Mostly I work on savings-led microfinance projects, but I've also had the opportunity to support our agriculture, health, migration, and youth development initiatives. In 2006, I received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and earned my Master’s in International Peace Studies at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. I've also worked in Peru and Dominican Republic since graduating from Bowdoin in 2002. My fascinating semester abroad in Argentina, terrific teachers in the Spanish and History departments, and a senior spring break trip where I met my wife while hiking to Machu Picchu were all the result of my Bowdoin experience.

Hillary P. Hoffman ‘08

Since graduating from Bowdoin, I have been working as a corps member for Teach for America.  My position has been as a third grade ELA-S teacher, which means I teach students for whom Spanish is the primary language.  I began the year teaching almost entirely in Spanish, and I still communicate with my students' families in Spanish only.

Jillian Hoyt ‘08

I am currently a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine working toward my certification so that I can teach Spanish at the high school level.  I have been interning at Casco Bay High School in Portland where I have taught Spanish I and II.  I enjoy it tremendously and I am excited to be embarking on a career in education and guiding young adults as they explore possibilities for their future.



Molly Juhlin ‘05

Shortly after graduation, I convinced my Bowdoin roommate to walk the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in Spain.  When I returned home, I quickly joined the NYC Teaching Fellows and was placed in a first grade classroom in the South Bronx.  In 2007, I moved to Boston where I now work at Emerson College.  I run an AmeriCorps program at the school called Jumpstart.  I train and support Jumpstart Corps members (Emerson students) as they serve over 300 hours in high-need preschools in the Boston area to help develop children's literacy and social skills.


Amit R. Karna ‘02

I work in investment banking for a firm in New York City. I do feel that Spanish has added value in helping me position myself as a bilingual person who is knowledgeable about international history and issues. Further, I have continued to stay close to Spanish language, culture, and music and I am sure that it will be useful down the road when I am involved in more international work.

Holly Kingsbury ‘07

After graduation I moved to Denver and started working for The Denver Foundation, a community agency working to improve life in Metro Denver, where I've been ever since. I help run an internship program that matches undergraduate students with nonprofit organizations, and provide support to projects focusing on inclusiveness, mental health, and philanthropic leadership. It's not what I thought I'd be doing after graduation, but I love it! I've also really enjoyed living in Colorado and exploring the Rocky Mountain west. However, I'm always trying to figure out how I can get back to Mexico or explore the rest of Latin America.

Tim Kuhner ‘98

A few months after graduating, I spent 12 months living in Argentina, Ecuador and Costa Rica as a Watson Fellow.  Getting a Watson Fellowship depended on showing competence in a foreign language.  Majoring in Spanish made that part of the process easy, and it also set me up for international jobs later.  A few months after returning to the US, I got a job with a negotiation consulting firm that focuses on Latin America.  This involved giving conflict resolution courses in Spanish and doing consulting for clients based in Latin America.  About ten years later, after getting a law degree and beginning my teaching career, I took a job as a visiting professor at a university in Pamplona.  After a year of teaching law in Spain (admittedly in English to students enrolled in a sort of global studies major), I've decided to stay here, keep teaching, and pursue a European Doctorate in comparative constitutional law.  I'd feel claustrophobic if my life options were constrained to English-speaking countries (and I'm aware that might sound silly given the size of such countries).  (From Pamplona, Spain): A partir de enero de 2011 tengo una especie de sabático por 12 meses y pienso pasar la mayoría de ellos en EEUU.  Es para terminar un libro y empezar otro.  Los dos son sobre el tema de la financiación de los partidos y los candidatos políticos.  Empecé como profesor visitante aquí el semestre pasado y ahora estoy de una forma más permanente, es decir, al menos un semestre de cada año académico, y más si quiero. Además de impartir las asignaturas de tort law y derechos humanos (en inglés como parte del programa de derecho global), tengo la oportunidad de hacer un doctorado europeo, y así presentar como tesis el tercer libro que iba a escribir de todas maneras.  Será un libro de derecho comparado sobre la financiación y la teoría democrática en EEUU, España, el Reino Unido y Alemania.


David Lawrence ‘00

After graduation I worked in Miami for a developer of wireless applications for cellular operators and media companies in Latin America.  After 2 years I was Sales Manager and traveling to Central America and the Caribbean weekly. In early 2005 I was hired by AgCert International and moved to São Paulo, Brazil to manage the regulatory department in Latin America to ensure that the company’s carbon-offset projects were registered with the United Nations. Later on I was hired as a business development manager to identify and originate large-scale emission reduction projects throughout Latin America. My Brazilian girlfriend and I then moved to Durham, NC and I am studying at The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Kate Lebeaux ‘08

I have been living in Madrid since September of 2008, working in a program sponsored by the Spanish government as a North American Language and Culture Assistant in a bilingual primary school.  Obviously my professional life is centered around English, but one of my main reasons for coming here was to improve my Spanish skills.  I have done my best to immerse myself in the language and culture here whenever I'm not teaching.  I've joined two choirs, made some friends and tried to experience all that Madrid and Spain have to offer. 

Michael Lettieri ’05

After graduating, I spent a year working at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC writing press releases/reports and doing interviews with a variety of media outlets. I also served as an electoral observer during Mexico's 2006 presidential election. Since then, I've moved on to the University of California, San Diego where I'm finishing the doctoral program in Latin American history, focusing on mid-20th century Mexican politics. My dissertation examines the negotiation of transportation policy under the one-party state.

Kim Levine ‘03

After graduation I spent the summer in Trinidad and expanded on my Caribbean studies that had begun with Pat Saunders.  She helped me apply for and earn a fellowship allowing me to take classes at UWI Trinidad for several months. I now work at Novartis in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I realized that I am a science nerd at heart and have been working as a research scientist in the oncology department for the past several years.


Luis Malavé ‘08

Después de graduarme regresé a Filadelfia y he trabajado con The Philadelphia Academies, INC.; buscando los mejores estudiantes de Filadelfia para ayudarles con el proceso de solicitar ingreso a las universidades. Muchos de estos estudiantes no tienen a nadie que les informe sobre escuelas como Bowdoin, Middlebury, Carleton, etc. Los estudiantes vienen a la oficina para ayuda con sus solicitudes, sus ensayos, y también para conversar con representantes de muchas de estas instituciones. Además de mi trabajo con estudiantes, soy actor. Tengo un agente que me busca trabajo en la ciudad. Durante mi tiempo en Bowdoin hice mucho teatro. En mi último año hice un estudio independiente adaptando una obra basada en una colección de cuentos sobre la experiencia puertorriqueña en Nueva York durante los años 50.

Grant McLean ’93

Grant McLean’s professional career has spanned diverse assignments in the US and Costa Rica with extensive real estate marketing, sales and project management experience. His brokerage experience includes positions with Christie’s Great Estates, where he set several regional sales records in New England, and Sotheby’s International Realty in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. In 2006 he established Grant McLean Luxury Real Estate, an independent real estate, marketing and consulting firm based in Guanacaste. In Costa Rica he has held key sales positions in major master-planned developments including Hacienda Pinilla, a 4,500 acre oceanfront resort community on the Pacific Coast. and Sotheby’s International Realty.

Michael Melia ’99

I was a correspondent for the Associated Press in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I was posted since 2006. I've been fortunate to cover a wide range of interesting stories in places including Trinidad, Guyana and Guantanamo Bay. A few years ago I was very pleased for finding a way to get my story, “José Martí, Cuba's independence hero, emerges from his statue” on the wire -- no small feat considering how few people really know about this influential writer!  More recently, I have been named correspondent for the news cooperative in Hartford, CT, to oversee news operations.

Monica Merino ’97

Monica holds an International MBA from The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business with concentrations in Marketing, Strategy and Economics. While in business school she spent her summer in Mexico City at a Mexican food and beverage company and subsequently returned to Mexico for a semester at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.  She has worked in a number of brand driven business including Marketing for L’Oreal and Strategy for Victoria’s Secret.  Monica has also served as an independent consultant for Givaudan, a leading company in fine fragrances and flavors, as well as an industry advisor for various retail investment funds. She is currently Global Portfolio Manager at Avon in the Global Marketing Operations group.

Elizabeth Millan ’90

I went on to graduate school in philosophy, and now I do work in German philosophy and Latin American philosophy.  My first job out of graduate school was at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Venezuela.  My major in Spanish (with the heavy dose of Latin American literature) certainly helped prepare me for the work I did (and continue to do) on Latin American philosophy.  I am currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago -- and both of my recent Ph.D. students did their dissertations on Spanish-language philosophy (one on Ortega's philosophy and the other on the transition from subject to citizen in the Latin American tradition, with a focus on Andrés Bello and Simón Rodríguez).  I have published articles and edited volumes on Latin American philosophy and have done a translation of a book on Mexican colonial philosophy.  I also offer courses for the Latin American/Latino Studies Program here at DePaul.

Elizabeth Moe ’06

Liz worked for a year in Laredo, Spain, with a North American Language and Culture Assistantship Grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education. Then she led a network of companies as Global Knowledge Manager and Communications Associate, and more recently worked as marketing manager for Global Communications. She has also been a volunteer member of Revolución Latina, a performing arts and community activism nonprofit based in New York City. In 2011, she was admitted, with a combination of full scholarship and teaching assistantship, to the graduate school at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, to pursue her PhD in Spanish. She intends to focus her future research on 20th-century poetry from Spain.

Sarah Mountcastle ’05

When I majored in Spanish, I didn't do it with a particular career in mind, but rather because I had always continued taking Spanish courses and loved studying Latin American cultures. Since graduating, however, I have realized just how important my Spanish major is. After graduating from Bowdoin in 2005, I worked in the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good as an AmeriCorps *VISTA for a year, then went on to work at an international development organization in Toronto called Free The Children. While there, I used my Spanish skills to lead trips of high school students on service trips to Ecuador. More recently, I worked at an early literacy organization, Raising A Reader Massachusetts. I used my Spanish every day to engage Latino parents in the Boston area in the critical behavior of sharing stories with their young children. I then headed to graduate school to pursue an MBA at Duke with a focus on social entrepreneurship.



Tiana O’Konek, please see Tiana Gierke ‘03

María Openshaw ’08

Por ahora sigo viviendo en East Boston, y trabajo en el centro de salud local del barrio, en la clínica de VIH.  Casi todos los pacientes y vecinos son latinos (de Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, y también dominicanos, colombianos, brasileños) y en la oficina conversamos en español todo el día, todos los días.  Estoy preparándome para presentarme a la escuela de posgrado, para completar una maestría en enfermería.  Específicamente, mi plan actual es estudiar para partera (nurse-midwife) y brindar atención primaria entre las comunidades recién llegadas aquí.  Es un campo de estudio que siempre me ha interesado.


Gillian Page ’10

My year-long fellowship at MATCH Charter Public Middle School came to a close in June, 2011.  In May, the Dean of Students at MATCH approached me about a job in Newark, NJ, where he was planning to open a new charter school based off the MATCH model of “no excuses” and daily tutoring for every student.  I was delighted to accept this challenge.  My job has been unpredictable but never boring as I have helped to train a Corps of 23 tutors, launched eight enrichment programs (including two World Culture programs), and stood beside our Executive Director pulling staples from walls, painting classrooms and generally repairing a school building that had fallen into disuse. I am excited by the challenges of this unique position and have learned an enormous amount about school reform at the ground level. This experience has only further fueled my desire to study education reform through the pursuit of a Master’s degree in Education Policy.

Marcus Pearson ’05

In July 2009 I got married, then we moved to Seattle where I enrolled at University of Washington Law School. I am focusing on community land rights and water access issues in rural Latin America as well as among American Indian tribes.  Since the earthquake in Haiti I have facilitated a campus-wide fundraising drive aimed at raising money for Partners in Health, a non-profit health organization.  Additionally, I have connected with lawyers and other law students around the country to launch the Lawyer’s Earthquake Response Network (LERN), which addresses the political, legal, and environmental issues that have been laid bare by the earthquake and will continue to play a large role in Haiti’s long road to recovery. I am writing a legal analysis of Chile’s environmental ministry and regulatory structure over a controversial hydroelectric dam project in Patagonia.

Anthony Pisani ’93

I teach Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester. I have been involved in hospital administration, teaching in family therapy and pediatrics, clinical work with children and families, and training clinicians in suicide prevention. I was awarded a three-year National Institute of Mental Health fellowship to retrain as a suicide prevention researcher. My knowledge of Spanish and Latin American cultures got my first job in mental health and has been central to my clinical work. I often work with Spanish-speaking families in primary care clinics, and have been invited to give conferences in places like Caracas. The interdisciplinary commitment of the Spanish and Latin American Studies faculty has stayed with me. I strive in my work (and life) to draw on wisdom without regard to disciplinary or political boundaries.



Alexandra Reed ‘10

After four months in Washington, DC writing about Latin America for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), I began an 8-month Fulbright grant in Uruguay in 2011, my first three months in the interior, and my last five months in Montevideo. I’ve been teaching English, volunteering, and drinking as much mate as possible. I hope to have some time to explore Brazil and Argentina, and revisit Chile (where I studied abroad in '08) before I return to the U.S.  Bowdoin visitors and traveling companions are welcome!

Julia Reed, please see Julia Guerrero ‘06

Lindsay Reuben ’05

After graduating, I went to teach kindergarten in The American School of Madrid. Upon returning to New York, I worked as a Spanish interpreter for legal cases and applied to the New York City Teaching Fellows program. Once accepted, I became a high school Spanish teacher here in New York City. I have been teaching Spanish for over three years and completed my M.S. in Teaching in 2008. I have recently been accepted into an M.A. in Hispanic Literature program in Madrid through NYU.

Mike Ritter ’02

I have become a freelance photographer in Boston (www.ritterbin.com).  My major has been a wonderful help on shoots I've done in Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala.  A highlight of my photographic career so far was working with Safe Passage (http://www.safepassage.org/) founded by the late Bowdoin alum Hanley Denning.  I'm very proud of the work I did there and that it has helped in Safe Passage's amazing cause.  I would be happy to talk to current students about what I know.

Seth Ritter ’00

I worked on an ambulance in Boston for five years and I'm finishing medical school this may.  I still get to use Spanish regularly.

Cassia Roth ’08

After my graduation, I headed to Monterrey, Mexico to work with Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth at the Tecnológico de Monterrey. While there, I started the process to apply to graduate schools in Latin American history. I randomly stumbled upon the Washington-based think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies and received a research internship in the Americas program. I am now pursuing my doctorate in Latin American history at UCLA. My dissertation proposal connects socioeconomic changes during turn-of-the-century Brazil to women’s reproductive practices. My research will take me to Rio de Janeiro in 2011.

Monica Rushford, please see Monica Dargin ‘01


Coleen Ryan Shaw ’97

I graduated from Bowdoin in 1997 with a Spanish major/Education minor.  That fall, I began teaching Spanish at Freeport Middle School.  I taught there for two years and then moved to the Camden area where I taught elementary Spanish to third fourth, and fifth graders... When my husband and I started our family, I left the classroom and started a small tutoring business.  I tutored middle and high school students and I also offered some small group Spanish lessons to the elementary set in town…Since graduating, I've used my degree to connect with and encourage the younger set, hoping to spread enthusiasm and interest in a beautiful, useful language…Our goal back in the late 1990s was to ensure that all districts in Maine offered some sort of elementary language education.  Many school districts embraced this directive and began implementing some truly wonderful and dynamic programs.  Unfortunately, many districts disregarded this mandate and many more since have had to cut these programs because of budget shortfalls.  It would be lovely for some new, young, and passionate language majors to get involved once again in this worthwhile endeavor.


Gretchen Selcke ‘00

I’m a doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Vanderbilt University, a graduate fellow at Vanderbilt’s Center for the Americas, and an Arts and Sciences graduate select scholar. I previously served as the assistant editor of the Afro Hispanic Review and am currently a member of the publication’s editorial board. My dissertation, entitled “Isolation on and off the Island:  The Politics of Displacement in Contemporary Spanish Caribbean Fiction,” explores contemporary Spanish Caribbean and U.S. Latino literatures. In addition, I’m working with Dr. William Luis on his forthcoming study on the Caribbean Vanguard. My research interests include contemporary Caribbean writing and literary theory.

Colleen Shaw, please see Coleen Ryan ‘97

Erik Shea ‘05

I actually use my Spanish everyday!  I'm currently living in Brooklyn, NY and working in Greenwich, CT at BCP Securities, a boutique investment bank dedicated exclusively to the emerging markets.  My geographic focus is Central America and the Caribbean, and I also assist with projects in Mexico and Argentina.  I travel about once every six weeks and frequently hold conference calls in Spanish. I was for a time involved with a non-profit organization in New York called Help Argentina. I recently learned about an IE International MBA in Madrid, which is a 13-month program that allows students to complete their studies in Spanish, and am planning to apply.

Richard Sherman ‘02

Since completing a Master's Degree program in Latin American Studies at Indiana University, I have been working in the Admissions Office of California University of Pennsylvania. One of my chief responsibilities is improving access to higher education for Hispanic/Latino students. My wife and I live near Pittsburgh, and welcomed our first child in July 2010.

Elizabeth Shesko ’02

While working at a law firm in Boston after I graduated, I looked for ways to return to Latin America. I was eventually hired by the American School in Guatemala, where I worked as a first grade teacher for two years and was able to travel throughout Central America. I then applied to graduate school and began a Ph.D. program in Latin American history at Duke University in the fall of 2005. Since then, I have taken several research trips to Bolivia and Paraguay, and spent a summer in Brazil to learn Portuguese. I am finishing the research for my dissertation, which explores the effect of obligatory military service on ethnic identity in twentieth-century Bolivia.

Emily Sowell ’05

I worked for three years in the felony division of the Lake County Clerk's Office in Lake County, Florida.  I just began my first year at the Law School of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  Although I haven't had the chance to travel back to Latin America since graduating, I will be concentrating in International Law.

Lindsay Steinmetz ’03

After graduating, I taught 4th grade at Escuela Bilingue Honduras, a private, bilingual school in Comayagua, Honduras.  My classmate Tiana Gierke also taught there, as did alum Russell Crandall '94 after he graduated.  While I taught the core subjects in English, 70% of the staff was Honduran and so I used my Spanish with them and the parents.  After returning to the US, I spent 4 years at an education reform organization, RISE, and worked with 50+ schools in low income communities in the Bay Area.  I graduated from Harvard Business School and am working at the Ford Foundation in New York City in the area of impact assessment.  While I don't use my Spanish on a regular basis, I believe my Spanish major sparked my interest in working on issues in public education that largely affect Latino students.

Alison Sylvester ’03

I now practice law at a large law firm and focus my pro bono work on representing Spanish-speaking asylum seekers, many of whom speak little English.  Although I've never pursued a Spanish-speaking job per se, the ability to speak Spanish has enriched my life in many ways.

Naomi Sturm ’08

Since graduating I stayed working at Bowdoin’s Student Aid Office and as a TA for Music 101 and Dance 101. I received the Waxer Prize for best undergraduate paper given at the annual North East Chapter for the Society of Ethnomusicology Conference. The paper was part of my Honors Thesis written for Latin American Studies. I am now in Columbia University’s Ph.D. program in Ethnomusicology with a focus on Latin American immigrant studies. I also work on independent dance choreographies.


Rachel Tavel ’05

I lived in NYC after leaving Bowdoin. First I worked as an intern for Food&Wine and Travel+Leisure magazines. After that, I traveled to Costa Rica where I spent a month volunteering at a daycare center in the Central Highlands. After a couple more trips (to Turkey and Japan), I landed a dream job: coauthoring a Frommer's guidebook about Mexico. I spent the summer in Mexico and wrote the Acapulco, Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo and Taxco chapters for the book, MTV Best of Mexico (Wiley Publishing, 2007). For the past three years, I have been working as the editor of an independent school's annual magazine and traveling as much as possible. I am actually about to leave my job to pursue travel writing full-time! I will be spending the spring and beyond working on my blog, travelswithtavel.com, and spending some time in Argentina. Now I am living in Quito, writing for V!VA Guides and managing the Argentina guidebook.

Sarah Thomas Bowdoin ’06

Since graduating I taught Social Studies for two years in the South Bronx and many of the parents of my kids spoke strictly Spanish.  I was able to communicate with them and enlist their help because I spoke the language.  After my time there I decided to move to Latin America and I landed a job at Colegio Internacional de Caracas teaching middle school.  Although I do not teach in Spanish I speak it everyday and have been traveling a lot around Latin America.  I am moving back to the US to pursue a law degree and I would love to come and speak sometime at Bowdoin.

Robin Trangsrud ’06

I was Vice Director of Quito-based NGO ASELER – Asesoría y Servicios Legales para los Refugiados en Ecuador, which provides legal assistance to the community of approximately 250,000 Colombian refugees in Ecuador.  After many busy but wonderful months, I have finally gotten around to posting on my blog about life in Ecuador (http://rtrangsrud.travellerspoint.com/). More recently, I have worked as an immigration paralegal in Boston.



Vanessa Vidal ’08

Vanessa has been awarded a Thomas Pickering Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation to pursue her graduate studies at the Fletcher School, Tufts University.


Elizabeth Wiles ’04

Upon my graduation in 2004, I have been teaching Spanish at Thornton Academy in Saco, Maine.  I am finishing up my sixth year at Thornton and thoroughly enjoy teaching Spanish and working with teenagers each day.  

Conor Williams ’05

My Spanish degree from Bowdoin was highly useful in my first two years after graduating.  I served as a Teach For America corps member, teaching first grade in New York City.  Now that I'm pursuing a PhD in Government at Georgetown University, I continue to make use of my degree for research (and for passing my required "language exam!").