Angelika Albaladejo is a Miami native and first generation American with Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrant parents. She lived in South Florida until she graduated from Everglades High School in 2008. In her undergraduate studies at George Mason University, she embraced her Hispanic heritage and settled into the niche of a B.A. in Global Affairs with a concentration in Latin America, as well as a double minor in Communications and Conflict Analysis & Resolution. This path led her to an anthropological research internship with the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian Central American artifacts collection. In her research she focused heavily on social, gender, and conflict issues in Latin America, particularly with the publication of her research on girl child combatants in Colombia. In the fall of 2010, her research paper entitled “Female Child Combatants in the Colombian Conflict: Recruitment, Roles, and Reintegration” was published in the inaugural issue of the Tablet: International Relations Journal of George Mason University. In her senior year, her research focus was developing a link between the collective cultural memory of Colombians and the persistence of the trafficking of girls in Colombia. She presented her research at the University of Maryland’s New Synthesis Conference, as well as the George Mason University Undergraduate Research Symposium. Apart from her Latin American research endeavors, Angelika spent much of her time traveling for competitive public speaking competitions with the GMU Forensics Team, painting as part of her small business “Vans-Gogh: Hand-Painted Shoes,” and working exercise and healthier eating into her daily schedule.
Jessica Edwards is pursuing a Master’s in International Education Policy and Management at Peabody College with a focus on Latin America, and specific interests in development and economic, race and gender disparities in education. Jessica studied abroad in Havana, Cuba, which prompted her to serve in the US Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. As an Education and Literacy Specialist, Jessica worked alongside the Ministry of Education, local foundations, and community members to create and manage a literacy program for youth and adults. In her tenure at Vanderbilt Jessica has served as a graduate teaching assistant in the HOD International Leadership and Development track at Peabody and worked as evaluation assistant for CLAS. This past summer Jessica worked in Ecuador as an on-site coordinator for the Office of Active Citizenship and Service’s Maymester service program before traveling to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, under a FLAS Fellowship to study Portuguese language and Brazilian culture, while exploring first-hand the dynamics of poverty and race.
Ashley Larson, originally from Fremont, Nebraska, studied at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln before transferring to California State University, Fullerton where she earned her undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies with minors in Spanish and Portuguese. At CSUF, she served as president of the Latin American Studies Student Association and interned at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California. Ashley also spent some time abroad studying Spanish at the Universidad Veritas in San José, Costa Rica and volunteering at orphanages in Baja California, Mexico. Her passion lies in the cultures and languages of Latin America. At CLAS, she will focus on diaspora communities and the convergence of culture that occurred during German immigration to southern Brazil and Chinese arrival to Cuba.
Jonathan Moody grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. Throughout high school and college, Jonathan visited communities in southern Mexico several times, solidifying his interest in Latin America and its indigenous cultures. Jonathan studied for a semester at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain. In 2011, he received his undergraduate degree at the University of the South, majoring in Spanish. After graduating, he spent a year in Nantes, France working as a musician and English tutor. In his free time, he writes and records music with his wife. He hopes to study indigenous movements in Latin America, focusing on the role of music within these movements.
Megan Oleson is originally from Benicia, CA. A two month exchange in Paraguay at the age of sixteen sparked her interest in Latin America. Since, she has spent a year studying the Spanish language in Granada, Spain and has received two bachelor’s degrees. Her first bachelor’s degree in global studies with an emphasis in Latin America comes from the University of California, Santa Barbara, while the second in Spanish literature comes from Middle Tennessee State University. Her travels to the region include Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru, and Paraguay. Since 2008, Megan has been the Nashville chapter training director of the non-profit youth leadership organization “Amigos de las Americas.” She will focus on the study of Latin America through language and anthropology while at Vanderbilt University.
Caitlin Patton is originally from Charlotte, NC. She is a recent graduate from Appalachian State University with a major in anthropology and a concentration in sustainable development with minors in Spanish and History. Her area of research interest is rural development, community responses to economic globalization, and how the local environment can shape livelihood change in Central America and Brazil.
Daniel Rojas is a Chilean Lawyer who spent six months working in a law-firm, and then realized that he wanted something different. He quit his position and began working at Acción Emprendedora, a non-profit organization that fosters small business development in low-income areas of Chile. At AE, he served as the Director of an Entrepreneurship Center, created a Legal Services Department, and worked as the C.O.O. After almost 4 years working in this NGO he came to Nashville to improve his English. He spent last semester working for the Government in Chile, as a Legal Advisor in the National Service for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Drugs and Alcohol Consumption.
Jessica Turner is from Payson, Utah and is a Captain in the United States Army. She is fulfilling her dream of becoming a Latin American Foreign Area Officer (FAO) and comes to Vanderbilt as part of the military’s FAO training program. Jessica has spent the past year living in Panama, working at the US Embassy and traveling throughout Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. She has previously lived in Argentina, where her love for Latin America began. She is particularly interested in La Guerra Sucia and the military’s involvement in the Dirty War.
Rebecca West, a Nashville native, worked as an Editorial Assistant for Alive Now and Weavings at the Upper Room after studying Theology at Georgetown. Wishing to experience living abroad and improve her Spanish, she moved to Chile where she discovered Chilean modismos later developed a project through Start-Up Chile, which she hopes to continue during her time at CLAS. She finds her community with the Nashville Bridge, a non-profit in East Nashville dedicated to helping 7th-12th grade student prepare for college, where she served as a college teacher, Associate Director, and now as a volunteer and member of the Bridge family.
Yvonne White is originally from Salisbury, North Carolina. She received her B.A. in Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill. She also minored in Hispanic Studies. At UNC, she volunteered with the growing local Latino population through ESL teaching. Outside of the U.S., she studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador and served as an intern for the State Department in Guatemala City, Guatemala. She is now interested in inequality and underrepresented populations in Brazil and other Latin American countries. The “War” on drugs that the U.S. is engaged in with Mexico and other Central American countries also interests her.
Chelsea Williams born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Chelsea developed a life long love of Latin America after a childhood exchange program to Venezuela. Throughout her education, she cultivated that interest, ultimately graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maryland with a degree in Government and Politics. After graduation she completed an internship with the Foundation for Sustainable Development in La Plata, Argentina and has spent the past two years working at the Gateway Center, one of the largest homeless service providers in the Southeast. She is thrilled to return to her education and looks forward to being in the wonderful city of Nashville.
Will Young is from Marvin, NC. As an undergraduate at Gardner-Webb University, he majored in Spanish and minored in Political Science. For the past year, Will has worked as an admissions counselor at Gardner-Webb. Will’s interest Latin America began on a mission trip to the region after his junior year in high school, and he has since traveled to the region a number of times. While at Vanderbilt, Will hopes to focus on political trends and democratization in Latin America, especially among the region’s indigenous populations. Upon completing the program, Will plans to pursue a Ph.D. in political science.