Updates from 2009
BERTE, SIRA, ’91
After graduation, I started working in Washington, DC for Senator Dodd, who was chairman of the Senate´s Cmte. on Western Hemisphere Affairs--I did everything from being his first female driver to overseeing his Washington schedule. The highlight was the day Rigoberta Menchú came to our offices! I left the Hill and worked in Latin American small business development for Appropriate Technology International, the IDB and then the OAS. I then received my MBA from the University of Maryland and had the opportunity to study with economists in Havana re: post-embargo Cuba; I also had a fellowship with the Ex-Im Bank where I focused on small business export finance. My husband, Brian Pearson, and I then moved back up to Maine… After 4 yrs. in Maine, we sold our house and 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… From there we 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 past three years, I worked for a Chilean company called, Seminarium Internacional (www.seminarium.com) developing executive level business courses throughout the region for business professionals… My husband and I [also] started a boutique tourism company called Santiago Adventures (www.santiagoadventures.com). But, I am most excited about the Chilean sommelier course I am taking to become the best bi-lingual sommelier in the market!
GREET, MICHELLE, ’93
I received my Ph.D. in Modern Latin American art from…New York University in 2004. I now teach 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 is…[forthcoming] with 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 will travel to Florida Atlantic University in October to give yet another presentation on the artist. Also, this October I will be interviewed for a documentary on the Ecuadorian artist Camilo Egas. This past year I published two articles on Andean art “Pintar la nación indígena como una estrategia modernista en la obra de Eduardo Kingman,” Revista de Historia Procesos, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. no. 23, Fall 2007, and “Manifestations of Masculinity: The Indigenous Body as a Site for Modernist Experimentation in Andean Art,” Brújula: revista interdisciplinaria sobre estudios latinoamericanos, Art and Encounters, December 2007, vol. 6 no. 1….I am currently on academic leave from George Mason with a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC to begin work on a new book project on Latin American artists in Paris between the two world wars.
PISANI, ANTHONY, ’93
I am an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester. During my first five years here, I was involved in hospital administration, teaching in family therapy and pediatrics, and clinical work with children and families…I recently shifted focus to training clinicians in suicide prevention. In August, I was awarded a three-year National Institute of Mental Health fellowship to retrain as a suicide prevention researcher. I owe a great deal of my career to Latin American Studies at Bowdoin. First, my courses, starting with my freshman seminar on the Cuban Revolution, turned me to writing and to academia; we attended a professional conference in Nova Scotia that I never forgot… Second, my knowledge of Spanish language and Latin American culture got my first job in mental health and has been central to my clinical work. One day I work with Spanish-speaking families in a primary care clinic in Rochester, and I was recently invited to give a keynote address a family therapy conference in Caracas. Third, my studies abroad and the absolutely extravagant education I received in Spanish and Latina Literature from John Turner and others developed my taste for beauty and all things hispano. Finally, the interdisciplinary commitment of the LAS faculty has stayed with me. I strive in my work (and life) to draw on wisdom without regard to disciplinary or political boundaries. In my personal life...I have been married to Amy for nine years. We have three children Mia (5), Luke (3), and Cara (1).
MILLER, BETH KNAUFF, ’96
I graduated with an A.B. in Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies. Since living abroad in Ecuador for my junior year at Bowdoin, I have since traveled to the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and most recently, Nicaragua. This last trip was through Bridges to Community, an organization some Bowdoin students have traveled with in the past. I have been a high school Spanish teacher since 1996, and I love what I do. I'm currently the Foreign Language Department Chair at St. Anne's-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia. While I frequently weave Latin American history, literature, culture and art into my lessons, I am teaching an independent study course on Latin American studies for the first time this year.
CASTILLO, VERNON, ’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 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 PHD in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
BALDWIN, KATHERINE, ’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… [A]fter 4 years [I] moved to a different school where I currently work in the Dual Language program. I have been at my current school, PS 75, for the past 7 years, and I work with both Spanish- and English-speaking students. My students come from all over the world: Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. I teach one full day in English, then the next day in Spanish. We alternate days like that throughout the year. 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…
KLICK, MATTHEW, ’98
I am currently in the last semester of my MS program in Economics in Fairbanks, Alaska. Since Bowdoin, my geographic horizons have broadened, thanks in part to work in Scandinavia and Arctic Canada, and therefore much of my current work focuses on polar issues. Having said that, I am beginning my PhD at Korbel School in Denver this fall in International Relations with a focus on economic development, and perhaps Latin America will play a role yet again in my studies. I was fortunate enough to travel to the region in 2000, cycling with a friend from Punta Arenas, Chile to Lima, Peru over six months… I continue to read El País and Chilean dailies in an effort to keep the language skills alive.
CASTILLO, MARÍA, ’99
I was a minor in Latin American Studies. I am originally Ecuadorian and…have traveled back several times to Ecuador to visit my family. I went to Egypt to learn Arabic. Then I moved back to New York and worked there in the medical sales industry, including a biotech company doing cord blood stem cell research. I then felt I needed a change and went on to complete a Masters in International Studies and Diplomacy in London. Since then, I have been working in a media company doing country analysis reports all over the world, including the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Israel, and Croatia. I have requested a project in Latin America and am very much looking forward to that.
MELIA, MICHAEL, ’99
I am a correspondent for the Associated Press in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I've been posted since 2006. The hurricane season keeps me particularly busy here in the Caribbean, but 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! My posting here is supposed to last about three years, which would take me through next summer. This year Julie and I welcomed our new little guy, Thomas Abraham, born February 19.
SELCKE, GRETCHEN, ’00
[I’m] a fifth-year graduate student and doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Vanderbilt University [and] 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.
HESS, BENJAMIN “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.
SHESKO, ELIZABETH, ’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 spent a summer in Brazil to learn Portuguese. I am currently doing research for my dissertation, which explores the effect of obligatory military service on ethnic identity in twentieth-century Bolivia.
FINNEGAN, KAREN, ’03
After graduating 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.
LEVINE, KYM, ’03
After double-majoring in Latin American Studies and Biology, 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 and I cannot thank her enough for her support and kindness…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.
ARON, DAVID, ’05
After graduating in 2005, I moved to New York City to teach special education as a New York City Teaching Fellow. I spent three wonderfully intense years teaching math, English, social studies, and science to high school students with special needs at Bushwick Leaders' High School in Brooklyn. I attended Brooklyn College and received a Masters degree in Secondary Special Education in 2007. In July I left Brooklyn for Minneapolis ("the mini-apple") to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, where I am currently a 1L. This could change, but I am interested in Labor and Employment Law, and the areas in which this field intersects with education and immigration issues. Over Spring Break, I will be traveling with the U of M's Asylum Law Program to work on cases of individuals seeking asylum in Miami, Florida.
LETTIERI, MICHAEL, ’05
After graduating in '05 (History major, Latin American concentration) 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 in the third year of a doctoral program in Latin American history, focusing on mid-20th century Mexican politics… I've spent the past two summers in Mexico City conducting preliminary archival research for my dissertation, which examines the negotiation of transportation policy under the one-party state.
PEARSON, MARCUS, ‘05
After graduating in 2005, I hopped on a bus in San Diego and proceeded to hop on more than 170 more buses, trains, trucks, and boats between Tijuana, Mexico and Ushuaia, Argentina. Along the way I volunteered for various grassroots organizations and grew a mustache. Beginning in August of 2006 I spent six months at the Universidad Autónoma de México in Mexico City doing graduate work with a focus on Latin American Environmental Policy and Economics. I also sporadically volunteered as a legal research assistant at AIDA (the Interamerican Association of Environmental Defense) in Mexico. Though currently living in Montana I am sitting on the board of a Guatemalan non-profit organization called Los Cimientos Alliance/K’aslem Mandala, whose mission is to empower Mayan youth to improve environmental, economic and social conditions in their families and communities by increasing their job skills and inspiring them to positively impact the extraordinary biological diversity and history of their local habitat.
SOWELL, EMILY, ’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 and hopefully will have the chance to do so soon!
TRANGSRUD, ROBIN, ’06
Until last April, 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/. I am currently an immigration paralegal in Boston.
GOULDER, SHELLEY, ’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 to the Academic Resources Department, plan field trips, and do a myriad of other tasks that seem to crop up everyday.
ROTH, CASSIA, ’08
After my graduation in May, 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 applied for… [and received] a research internship in the Americas program…[I]t [was] a fun and interesting time to be in the capital, and I interacted with scholars and met with interesting people (like the Brazilian Minister of Health), that I would have never thought I would talk to! Next fall I will be pursuing my doctorate in Latin American history at UCLA.
STURM, NAOMI, ’08
Since graduating I actually stayed working at Bowdoin’s Student Aid Office and as a TA for Music 101 and Dance 101. I recently 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’ve just been accepted by Columbia University’s Ph.D. program in Ethnomusicology (with a focus on Latin American immigrant studies) and will begin the program next fall. I am also currently working on some independent dance choreographies.