Certificate Students

Current Students

Heidi Reyes
Class: 2021
Major: Elementary Education
My name is Heidi and I am the youngest of four; I have two older sisters and an older brother. I am currently a freshman and I’m part of the first generation in my family to go to college, along with my 2 older sisters. I am majoring in Education in hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher because I have positive associations with that profession and I feel like I would be good at it. Through this, I hope to inspire a new generation of students to pursue higher education. I am thankful for all the help my family has provided and I hope to continue to make them proud through my journey in college.

Luna Durán

Luna Duran
Class: 2021
Major: Spanish
Luna Durán is a freshman Spanish major at the University of Maryland. She was born in Costa Rica, but has lived in the US since she was two years old. Luna is very interested in Latin America as a whole; the culture, the people, the arts, and definitely the food. She has visited family in Costa Rica only twice since, she was born, but she hopes to return, as well as travel to many more Latin-American countries. She is a lover of many things (too many to name), and hopes to find more things to love in her four years at Maryland.

Luna Alvarado

Luna Alvarado
Class: 2020
Major: Criminology and Criminal Justice
I am a Criminology and Criminal Justice major with a minor in Portuguese. I am a proud Chicana and growing up in a Latin community in Maryland has taught me to appreciate my culture and to pursue a higher level of knowledge regarding this topic. This certificate compliments my major, as there is a prominent amount of crime in the Latin communities that I would love to conduct research within the United States as well as out of the country. During my years as an undergraduate, I plan to study abroad in Brazil to practice Portuguese or go to the University of Guadalajara in Mexico, as it is a beautiful city with a mix of modern and historic scenery. I am currently the treasurer for a La Familia a peer-mentoring program to assist first generation Latino students with their studies at the University of Maryland.

Mei Lee Mackleer

Mei Lee Mackleer
Class: 2020
Major: Psychology
Mei Lee Mackleer is a sophomore at University of Maryland and grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland. She was born in the countryside of Japan and identifies herself as multi-racial or German Irish Taiwanese American. Her two loves are Latin America and Asia. She hopes to be involved in the campaign to end sexual slavery. She enjoys learning about Latin American history and cultures and dreams of visiting Machu Picchu and Lima, Perú someday. She even thought of becoming a tour guide at one point in her college career! After graduation, she would love to work and travel abroad. She is currently trying to become fluent in Spanish and Chinese. She is currently thinking about whether to go for Psychology or Cultural Anthropology for her major; She is interested in obtaining a minor in Asian Studies and a certificate in Latin American Studies (and perhaps a Spanish minor too?) She hopes to study abroad next year two times if possible! She is excited to learn more with what Latin American Studies program has in store for her. She fell in love with Latin America after meeting many Latino American people and studying about their cultures. Moreover, her beau buys delicious Peruvian food for her and so she fell in love with Peruvian culture and history. Her 8th grade Spanish teacher introduced her to Dia de Los Muertos with colorful pictures and so she hopes to go to Mexico City to see the displays. She recalled her Spanish assignment which was to create a travel brochure about a Latin American country and she chose Argentina! And when Mei is not reading about Latin America, she enjoys traveling, taking pictures, blogging, using social media, eating food, watching movies, and listening to different genres of music.

Julio Vasquez

Julio Vasquez
Class: 2020
Major: Marketing
Julio Vasquez is a sophomore at the University of Maryland. He was born in El Salvador but immigrated to Rockville, Maryland at the tender age of one. He is a marketing major with aspirations of working in the sports, music, or fashion industry doing creative business work. During his time at UMD, he has been a part of the Science and Global change scholars program where he has joined the fundraising committee in efforts to raise money for various charities. Other educational avenues that Julio enjoys are social activism and politics, statistics and meteorology. Within the next two years, Julio hopes to study abroad somewhere in Europe and get internships in the industries he adores. In his free time, Julio loves to eat pasta, admire architecture, shoot film photography, and binge Netflix. After graduation, Julio hopes to work in anything ranging from a statistician for ESPN, to a content creator for Apple Music, to a marketing consultant for any of his favorite clothing brands.

Vanessa Carrillo

Vanessa Carrillo
Class: 2020
Major: Public Health Science
My name is Vanessa Carrillo and I am a sophomore majoring in Public Health Science and on the pre-med track at the University of Maryland. I was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland but my dad is from Mexico and my mom is from El Salvador. I am a musician and I’m in the marching band at Maryland playing the tuba but I also play several other instruments, such as, guitar, flute, bass guitar, and ukulele. I am the first person to go to college in my family and I hope that one day I can participate in Doctors without Border in my parent’s countries to help and give back to them. I would love to study abroad in third world countries in Africa or any Latin American country to learn more about them and help in any way I can. My goal in life, besides becoming a pediatric surgeon, is to help people in any way I can; it’s why I chose to be in the LASC program. The first step in helping anyone is to build a foundation and in this program, I will be learning a lot about the history and culture of different Latin American countries. Being in this program will give me experiences and opportunities to use what I have learned and apply it somehow to help the Latin community. After my undergraduate studies, I hope to go to medical school in Philadelphia for my D.O degree and when that is finished, I would like to find a residency in a Latin American country.

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Daniella Medel

Daniella Medel
Class: 2020
Major: Arabic Studies

Christy Arevalo

Christy Arevalo
Class: 2019
Major: Anthropology
Hi! I'm a sophomore Anthropology major, with a minor in French Studies. I decided to pursue the certificate to reconnect with my cultural heritage (my family is from El Salvador, but I grew up in the US) and to learn more about the issues affecting the rest of Latin America. I would like to work in international development after graduation and am particularly interested in Latin America. Outside of classes, I am a writer and performer in Sketchup, a sketch comedy group here at UMD!

Kenneth Haines

Kenneth Haines
Class: 2019
Major: Spanish
A lifelong terrapin, back in 1987, Kenneth B. Haines last graduated with a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and instruction. He is a retired French teacher from the Prince George’s County Public Schools, and the former President of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association. Through his work at the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN), he worked to introduce a system of Peer Assistance & Review (PAR) to the local schools. He served for several years as a member of the Teacher Advisory Council at the Gates Foundation and for five years as a Trustee at the Maryland State Pension & Retirement System. Ken has returned to school on the Golden ID program and is degree-seeking in Spanish with a concentration in Latin American Studies. His commentaries have appeared regularly in local papers for two decades, and he maintains a blog on a variety of topics at citizenken.net.

Leslie Delcid

Leslie Delcid
Class: 2019
Major: Environmental Science and Policy Program
Leslie Delcid is a sophomore at the University of Maryland and a native of Montgomery County, Maryland. She will receive a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Policy as well as a Certificate in Latin American Studies in December of 2019. She is also in the Life Sciences scholars program. During her time at UMD, Leslie has been a member of the Gymkana Troupe, an outreach program for The School of Public Health that promotes healthy living through a drug-free lifestyle. After graduation, Leslie would like to become a wildlife biologist and research the effects of climate change on animals and their habitats. When Leslie isn't studying for exams she can be found flipping on a trampoline, taking a stroll around campus or playing with her two dogs.

Olivia Delaplaine

Olivia Delaplaine
Class: 2019
Major: Government and Politics
Olivia Delaplaine is a junior studying Government and Politics, but is very interested in education, language acquisition, and public policy, hoping to teach ESOL after graduation. She lives in the Language House, has served as a mentor for America Reads and Partners in Print, and has worked as an education intern with CASA de Maryland helping run summer and after school programming for high school students. She also loves to cook and garden and explore the DC area.

Gavvyn Flores

Gavvyn Flores
Class: 2019
Gavvyn Flores is a junior Criminology and Criminal Justice major at the University of Maryland and a Prince George's native, who loves everything about learning and dreams of going to space. With the education he receives, he hopes to help educate others and travel to other countries to spread knowledge and help cultivate an academic revolution that empowers people with education, thus destroying the grip capitalistic corporations have on the world. He wants to help everyone in this world who has been victimized by the evils of capitalism and imperialism and allow them the most basic of human rights and needs, because he is tired of seeing the planet and people he loves and cares about suffer for real tangible reason other than the fallacies created by these two evils. In his free time he enjoys learning about cooking, painting, drawing, music, governments, radical politics, existentialism, animals, recreating vines, and dreaming about space.

Blanca Arriola-Palma

Blanca Arriola-Palma
Class: 2019
Major: International Relations and Government and Politics
Blanca Arriola Palma is a junior at the University of Maryland and a citizen of Prince George’s County. Blanca will receive her B.A in Governmental and Politics with an International Relations concentration and a Latin American Studies certificate. During her time at UMD, Blanca has worked closely as Vice-president of Public Relations for PLUMAS (Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society), an organization committed to addressing all issues affecting the Latinx community. Blanca is especially interested in women rights issues, immigration issues, and educational/racial inequality. Post undergraduate, Blanca is considering pursuing a law degree in immigration, international or civil rights law, or a master’s degree focused on public policy, international relations, or Latin American Studies. Aside from being a student and advocate, Blanca enjoys watching her favorite shows on Netflix.

Valentina Forero

Valentina Forero
Class: 2019
Major: Economics

Jennifer Reyes

Jennifer Reyes
Class: 2019
Major: Public Policy

Ashley Escobar

Ashley Escobar
Class: 2018
Major: Spanish

Zena Dhatt

Zena Dhatt
Class: 2018
Major: International Relations and Government and Politics

Juan Herrera

Juan Herrera
Class: 2018
Major: Journalism
Juan Herrera is a senior at the University of Maryland. He is a lifelong resident of Maryland and currently lives in Hyattsville. This spring Juan will receive his B.A. in multi-platform journalism with a certificate in Latin American Studies. During his time at the University of Maryland, Juan studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a winter semester. He took a course on human rights violations in Argentina and learned about the political issues going on around the country. Juan has also been involved with La Familia, a peer-mentoring program at Maryland. With La Familia, Juan has helped first-year Latinx students excel academically. He is currently the vice president of the program. Juan is also involved with several sports publications on campus like WMUC Sports and The Left Bench as a sports writer and anchor. After college, Juan is hoping to cover professional soccer as a sports writer for a major sports website. He dreams of travelling outside of the country in the future to cover a World Cup tournament. Juan also wants to go to law school someday. After taking several Anthropology and LASC courses through the certificate program, Juan became interested in becoming an immigration lawyer in order to help Latinx people facing legal issues surrounding citizenship and residency. Juan is also hoping to return to Argentina someday after graduating for vacation. When Juan isn’t working or studying, he enjoys working out of the gym and playing intramural soccer with his friends. He also enjoys watching sports, going out with friends and playing the guitar.

Ana Ortez-Rivera

Ana Ortez-Rivera
Class: 2018
Major: Undecided
My name is Ana Ortez-Rivera, and I am a freshman. Currently, I am an undeclared major, but I will pursue a major in Socio-cultural Anthropology. I want to earn a certificate in Latin American Studies because I want gain further knowledge about the culture, history, and social organization of Latin America. As a Hispanic first generation American, I want to earn this certificate to enhance my degree and enter a field in which I can work towards helping those in developing countries, such as the home of my family El Salvador. In the future, I want to work for non-profit organizations such as UNICEF.

Kendra Pryor

Kendra Pryor
Class: 2018
Major: Anthropology
Hi everyone! I am currently a senior Anthropology major and a Spanish Language and Culture minor. I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. I have always been interested in the Spanish language as well as Latin American cultures, especially having some Latinx friends and family members. This led me to participate in the Alternative Breaks program in the Dominican Republic as well as study abroad in El Salvador. Living in such a diverse country and state, I believe it is incredibly important to learn about Latin American nations and their histories. I am especially interested in race/ethnicity, gender, and education, and hope to pursue a career in public service as well as graduate studies in public policy.

Santiago Rios

Santiago Rios
Class: 2018 Major: Government and Politics
Hi! My name is Santiago Rios, and I am a freshman Government and Politics major pursuing a minor in Global Poverty. Though I was born in Bolivia, I have been in the United States for over a decade. Since my connections with Latin America are limited, the certificate program in Latin American Studies gives me an opportunity to both reconnect with my past and study the region through a completely different lens. Throughout my time as an undergraduate student I plan on visiting Bolivia and studying abroad in another Spanish-speaking nation. My hope is that after graduation the knowledge and experience I attain will allow to help make an impact in the place that has formed so much of who I have become.

Chioma Agbaraji

Chioma Agbaraji
Class: 2018
Major: Women’s Studies
Chioma Agbaraji is a senior at the University of Maryland and a native of Prince George’s County, Maryland. This spring she will receive her B.A. in Women’s Studies with a minor in Geographic Information Systems and certificate in Latin American Studies. During her time at UMD, Chioma has worked closely with social enterprises and entrepreneurs, especially during her internship in the Dominican Republic. As a community consultant with Soluciones Comunitarias, she assisted local women entrepreneurs with start-up cost analyses for a candle business and empowerment-building projects. After graduation, Chioma would like to travel and work abroad, ultimately serving as an international business consultant who promotes institutional inclusion as a means of economic advantage. And when Chioma is not researching ways to leverage women and other minority communities, she enjoys visiting art galleries, traveling, and eating flan de coco.

John Garcia-Tobar

John Garcia-Tobar
Class: 2017
Major: Anthropology

Juan Sandoval
Class: 2017
Major: Geography




Recent Graduates
Gabrielle Abbott

Gabrielle Abbott
Class: 2017
Major: French and Spanish
Hola!/Bonjour! I am a junior majoring in Romance Languages (French and Spanish) and pursuing a minor in International Development and Conflict Management. I am adding the Latin American Studies Certificate after studying abroad at La Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica last spring semester. I had the opportunity to do a field study in Cuba during that time and was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Panama as well. My experiences abroad and my new knowledge of Central America has inspired me to learn all about the past and current social, political, and economic aspects of Latin American countries. I hope to work in development after graduation and have Latin America as my area of expertise.

Juliana Cooper

Juliana Cooper
Class: 2017
Major: Spanish

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis
Class: 2017
Major: English and IVSP
I am an English major, minoring in Spanish and currently pursuing a self-made major in the IVSP program entitled, "Social Entrepreneurship in Latin America." I've always been interested in Latin American history and culture, but that interest deepened when I traveled there for the first time in the summer of 2015. I participated in an eight-week social entrepreneurship program in Nicaragua where we worked to help alleviate poverty in rural communities. The work I did there as a consultant for small, local businesses as well as implementing a plan of action for incorporating financial literacy programs into rural communities introduced me to social entrepreneurship. The culture and the people made me want to continue to pursue it in Latin America and I look forward to the LASC courses expanding my knowledge.

Alexa DeCesaris
Class: 2017
Major: Undecided
I am currently an undecided major and hoping to minor in International Development & Conflict Management. Recently, I began working with an organization called Students Helping Honduras, where volunteers travel to Honduras to build schools in the most vulnerable barrios effected by extreme poverty and gang violence. The most powerful tool to help pull these communities out of the grips of destitution and violence is education; these schools afford Honduras' upcoming generation the opportunity to transform their country into something better. After falling in love with the Honduran people and returning from Honduras my first time, I decided I needed to formally learn about the history, culture, traditions, and government/politics of Latin America in order to understand the current state of affairs in Central and South America. After college, I would like to continue working with an organization like SHH to help nations like Honduras support their citizens through quality education and improved health care.

Delia Dreher

Delia Dreher
Class: 2017
Major: Anthropology
I am a senior Sociocultural Anthropology major, with a focus in Indigenous studies along with my concentration in Latin American Studies, as well as a minor in Sustainability studies. These various focuses converge in my interest in Indigenous rights, development, and conservation in Latin America. I am currently pursuing an honors thesis on the use of social media and internet connectivity in Indigenous communities in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon for eco-activism, and hope to explore related issues in my LASC capstone as well. After graduating, I am intrested in traveling in Latin America and interning on issues pertaining to conservation in Latin America, before applying to graduate and PhD programs next winter.

Julian Moreno

Julian Moreno
Class: 2017
Major: History
My name is Julian Moreno. I’m from Colombia and I moved to the US when I was 10 years old. I am a history major with a concentration in Latin America. I am interested in indigenous and campesino affairs, mainly their political organization and ways of life. The Latin American Studies Certificate seems like a great option for me to complement my degree. After I graduate, I want to work for a Latin American advocacy group or an NGO. I want to be able to use my love of history and strong connection with Latin America to help people in need.

Xavier Gutierrez
Class: 2017
Major: Physics
I'm a sophomore physics major who intends to go to graduate school, but I've chosen to minor in Spanish as well as complete the certificate in Latin American Studies because I understand the importance of having a balanced college education. The Latin American Studies certificate is a great way to incorporate discussions of cultures and literature into my college experience, and, furthermore, I hope to use this understanding of the ongoing story of latinos and latinas to make more informed decisions personally as well as politically.

Lorena Diaz

Lorena Diaz
Class: 2016
Major: Government and Politics
Hi my name is Lorena Diaz and I’m a Government and Politics major with a Portuguese Minor and LASC certificate. My goal after graduation is to volunteer for either the Peace Corps or Teach for America before going to Graduate school. I decided to add the LASC certificate to my program while at UMD because it will help further my studies on the social and political structure in Latin America. My dream is to work for an organization that is helping improve the education system in the impoverished areas in El Salvador or Brazil. Having the LASC certificate will give me the background knowledge and skills to succeed in this field and will help me achieve my goals and aspirations.

Tyler Draughon

Tyler Draughon
Class: 2016
Major: Spanish
¡Saludos! My name is Tyler Draughon and I am from Baltimore, Maryland. I am a final year B.A. student studying Spanish Language with a Business Minor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. I am also a member of UMD’s Language House (Spanish Cluster). This summer I will be traveling to South America with Maryland's Social Entrepreneur Corps to support small community business throughout four different cities in Ecuador. I hope to combine my cross-disciplinary knowledge with my Latin American Studies Certificate in order to cultivate my experiences abroad into an awareness of diversity and cultural sensitivity. After graduation, I plan to continue my engagement to social impact and combatting poverty within marginalized communities like South America's indigenous populations through involvement with sustainable economic projects in rural areas.

Mary Ashleigh Bondoc

Mary Ashleigh Bondoc
Class: 2016
Major: Spanish
My name is Mary Ashleigh Bondoc and I am a pre-law student pursuing a B.A. in Spanish Literature with a certificate in Latin American Studies. My interest in Latin America originates from extended coursework in Latin American literature and culture through the years as well as an internship at the Smithsonian Latino Center in the past. I have also interned with the Commission on Immigration at the American Bar Association. I am most eager to explore migratory patterns of Central and South Americans to the United States and how their role has developed in U.S. society. I hope to use the knowledge acquired through the LASC program in my prospective career as an immigration lawyer.

Kali Nicole Brown

Kali Nicole Brown
Class: 2016
Major: Spanish and Anthropology
Hi! My name is Kali Brown, and I am senior at the University of Maryland. I am a Spanish major and would consider Latin America and the Spanish language major influences in my personal and professional endeavors. I joined the LASC program in order to further study instances of wartime sexual violence in Latin America.

Mayra Garcia

Mayra Garcia
Class: 2016
Major: Anthropology
I am a senior Anthropology major with a focus on sociocultural anthropology and immigration. Born in Peru, I moved to the U.S. when I was 8 years old and am excited to use my Latin American Studies Certificate coursework to expand upon my understanding of other Latin American countries. I chose the LASC program to help me on my immigration studies focus in anthropology so that I may learn more of Latin American history and culture and how these relate to current immigration issues in the U.S. Along with my interest in immigration and Latin America, I am also concerned with cultural heritage and indigenous issues. After graduation I am interested in pursuing a graduate degree and work with advocacy groups and/or NGOs.

Morgan Johnson

Morgan Johnson
Class: 2016
Major: Government and Politics
My name is Morgan Johnson and I am a Government and Politics major with a Black Women's Studies minor and LASC certificate. I have a strong passion for global women's rights, especially those of African ancestry and indigenous background. I currently serve as the Vice President of Management for Sister to Sister, a multi-ethnic community service organization for women right here on campus! After graduation, I would like to attend graduate school for international relations, travel all around Latin America, or work for a think tank or nonprofit that focuses on international affairs/global women's rights. I want to complete research on Afro-Latina women and their social and political voices in local communities and abroad.

Tristan Marquez
Class: 2016
Major: History and Government & Politics

Emily Masucci

Emily Masucci
Class: 2016
Major: Sociocultural Anthropology
In addition to my concentration in Latin American Studies, I am a senior Sociocultural Anthropology major, a member of the Honors Humanities program within the Honors College, and the Anthropology representative on the BSOS Dean's Student Advisory Council. I am currently applying to PhD programs in the hopes of pursuing research on indigenous identity formation, social movements, and political activism in Brazil--issues that I hope to address in my LASC capstone thesis as well. Having just returned from a year-long exchange program at Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I am excited to use my LASC coursework to expand upon my understanding of Brazil as an influential actor within the broader context of Latin American history and regional cultural development.

Rubi Perez-Howard

Rubi Perez-Howard
Class: 2016
Major: Spanish

Julie Tervala

Julie Tervala
Class: 2016
Major: History