Story posted May 04, 2012
How did you get involved with Latin American Studies and the Latin American Students Organization?
When I first came to Bowdoin, I was unsure of what I wanted to study, and what I wanted to do with all of this opportunity. Around this time, my first-year social house buddy, then a co-president of the Latin American Student Organization, told me personally I should consider coming to their weekly meetings. With that, I launched down a path of involvement with the group that has, in many ways, opened my eyes to where my interests and greatest potentials lie. My first year at Bowdoin, I also took a course entitled “Chicano/a Literature After WWII,” which was taught by a visiting Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow. The course dramatically heightened my interest in pursuing academic work in addition to the civic involvement with which I was becoming more familiar.
This first year proved to be very positive for me, even though I had the typical anxieties of beginning a college career, because it sketched out a blueprint of the things I could pursue and offered me a strong network of diverse individuals to provide support. Though my years at Bowdoin were spent darting around from class to meeting, and back and forth, it was very much through LASO that I became familiar with the school and its operations, and the students that make it a rich, distinct place.
Tell us a bit more about your involvement with LASO.
Over the years, I served as Vice President and President for the organization, going through levels of heightened activity and moments of re-evaluation. Repeatedly, we would have to ask ourselves collectively, “why are we, as students, organizing around these issues?” These questions led to extreme growth as both a student and a leader for which I am infinitely grateful.
How does your academic and personal involvement come together?
Also, through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship which I was awarded in 2009, I planned several individual research projects related to Chicana/o and Latina/o art and culture, some of which will guide my work as I plan for post-graduate education. Perhaps most important to me are the two Alternative Spring Break programs I participated in and organized in Immokalee, Florida (which received continual funding from the McKeen Center for the Common Good and Latin American Studies). During week-long trips, we worked with a group of students and community members in Florida in a number of social services oriented around the large migrant worker population. During these trips, I saw many of the struggles and injustices I read about in my Latin American Studies-impacted coursework firsthand, while simultaneously blended the two complex notions of “service” and “learning.”
What are your plans for after graduation?
Currently, I am applying for a PhD in Anthropology, and I hope to study intersection of rural/urban Latino/a communities, and the art and debate that these cross-cultural conversations produce. In the meantime, I’m hoping to work in the general field of community development in areas of mostly Latina/o residency. Of course, I would have never made it this far without the help of Latin American Studies and LASO, and I can only imagine how this trajectory will benefit me in the near future."
Latin American Students Organization, 2010-2011
Interview originally published in the Bowdoin Latin American Studies Newsletter
— By Krista Van Vleet