Graduate Students

2017-18

Megan Fountain is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Literature from Yale University and has worked extensively with Guatemalan and Mexican migrants in Connecticut. She is particularly interested in investigating how oppressed communities engage with processes of transitional justice, memory, and reparations in Central and North America.

Cynthia Melendez is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Hispanic Literature from Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and her Master in Fine Arts Studies from UConn. Her research focuses on LGBTIQ activism and identity in Peru. She is interested in how activists use arts and media to construct queer identity and to facilitate social movement agendas throughout the country.

Stephanie Mercado-Irizarry is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras in 2014. Her current research includes the study of precarious work and the displacement of communities through neoliberal policies, how it leads to the expulsion of the population, and new forms of colonialism in Puerto Rico. Stephanie analyzes the crisis of the last decade through an interdisciplinary lens, analyzing how this social and political crisis is narrated and discussed through literature.

Andrea Miranda is a second-year MA student who received her bachelor’s degree in History from the Universidad de Cartagena, Colombia. In 2012 and 2013 she won The Young Research Scholarship granted by the Colombian National Science System (COLCIENCIAS). In 2015 she received her postgraduate studies in Higher Education and in 2016 she received her Masters degree in Cultural Heritage at the Universidad de Panamá. Her research interests include race, politics, Caribbean studies and the history of education.

Shanelle Morris is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She is also pursuing the Human Rights and Nonprofit Management graduate certificate. She received her B.A. in International Studies from Trinity College in 2016. Her research interests include colonialism, imperialism, race, culture and the African Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ashley Ortiz-Chico is a second-year graduate student who received her bachelor’s in Political Science with a specialty in International Relations and Political Theory and a minor in Latin American and Puerto Rican Literature from la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras. Research interests include Latin American and Caribbean Politics and economic development. Currently she is studying the relationship between Puerto Rico and the US and the PROMESA bill.

Felix Padilla-Carbonell is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. He received a B.A. in Political Science and a Juris Doctor in Law from UPR-Rio Piedras. His long-term goal is to enter the national conversation on the welfare of Latina/os, in an advisory role.

Lauren Perez-Bonilla is a second-year graduate student who obtained her bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with a minor in International Relations. Her area of study includes both quantitative and qualitative research methods and techniques, which comes with a fair handling of computer programs such as SPSS and GIS (including Model Builder). Currently, she is interested in the sex work industry in the Dominican Republic, body politics, masculinities in the Caribbean and its correlation with mental health issues.

Katherine Pérez Quiñones is a second-year graduate student who received her B.A. at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras. While majoring in Political Science, she also received a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. Her research considers higher education, inequalities and dissent from the frameworks and theories of democracy. Her other interests such as memory studies and the uses and abuses of history, always manage to infiltrate her scholarly activity.

Cindy Portillo is a second-year graduate student who received her B.A. at the University of Richmond. Cindy’s research interests include unaccompanied child migration from Central America to the United States and violence and poverty in the Northern Triangle region. Currently, she is focused on the effect of educational policies and school environment on Latino English language learners.

Ilan Unger is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. He received his B.S. in Business Management and B.A. in Spanish/Portuguese from UNC-Asheville. His research interest is on the 2001 economic crises of Argentina and its effects on trade (imports and exports). It focuses on the agribusiness sector before and after the devaluation and hyperinflation of the Argentine national currency(ARS).  He is currently working with Dr. Fiona Vernal on the history of Jamaican Immigration to the Hartford area.

2016-17

Gisely Colon Lopez is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Puerto Rican and Latino Studies from Brooklyn College. She has a minor in Anthropology and is interested in urban youth and education.

Katheryn Maldonado is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Political Science and human rights from UConn in 2015. Her research interests include immigration law, Latino migration, and undocumented students.

Cynthia Melendez is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Hispanic Literature from Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and her M.A. in Fine Arts Studies from UConn. Her research interest is to unify and shed further light on social justice discourses emerging from Latin American artists.

Stephanie Mercado-Irizarry is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico in 2014. Her research interests include the study of Latin American political philosophy, human rights and theories, specifically how the privatization of environments and the displacement of communities through neo-liberal policies leads to the expulsion of the population and new forms of colonialism in the Caribbean.

Andrea Miranda is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in History from the University of Cartagena. She plans to analyze political relations between Panama and the U.S. during the first two decades of the 20th century.

Shanelle Morris is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in International Studies from Trinity College in 2016. Her research interests include colonialism, imperialism, race, culture and the African Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ashley Ortiz-Chico is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico in 2015. Her research focus is Latin American and Caribbean politics, both internally and from the perspective of international politics, particularly the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.

Lauren Perez-Bonilla is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Social Sciences (interdisciplinary) from the University of Puerto Rico in 2015. Her research interests focus on social issues related to migration and intrastate relations; public policy; gender studies; sexually transmitted diseases; and geo-statistics.

Katherine Perez-Quinones is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras in 2015. Her research interests include comparative transnational Latino(o) American Studies, specifically the multiplicity and malleability of Puerto Rican identities and the role that memories, and the places that memories have, in the shaping of these designations.

Cindy Portillo is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in International Studies from the University of Richmond. Her research interests are the importance of Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino societies in the age of globalization and mass migration with the long-term objective of working alongside public agencies and non-profit community-based organizations to develop empowering programs in local communities and enrich the Latino community in education and advocacy.

Katie Quinn is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Hispanic Studies from Trinity College. Her interests are international human rights law in South America, identity formation, cultural nationalism and the arts.

Ilan Unger is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. He received his B.S. in Business Management and a B.A. in Spanish/Portuguese from UNC-Asheville in 2013. His research interest is U.S. corporate strategy in Latin America, specifically how multinational companies adapt to the idiosyncrasies, policies, and history of the country in which they want to be established.

2015-16

Jihan Asher is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in History from the University of Maryland-College Park in 2014. Her research interests include economic and social development in Latin America, migration and citizenship, corporate social responsibilitiy, and the experiences of African-descended people in the Americas.

Pauline Batista Souza da Silva is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Communications from Mitchell College in 2014. Her research interests include immigration; border studies; institutional paradigms of patrimonial preservation in Brazil.

Gisely Colon Lopez is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Puerto Rican and Latino Studies from Brooklyn College. She has a minor in Anthropology and is interested in urban youth and education.

Katheryn Maldonado is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Political Science and human rights from UConn in 2015. Her research interests include immigration law, Latino migration, and undocumented students.

Katie Quinn is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Hispanic Studies from Trinity College. Her interests are international human rights law in South America, identity formation, cultural nationalism and the arts.

Hannah Reier is a second year student graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Anthropology from Wheaton College. Her research focuses on the effect of American expat gated communities in Latin America; feminist methodologies and theory; sociocultural anthropology; gringoism; new media studies.

Ilan Sánchez is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. He received his B.A. in Social Communications from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico in 2012. His research interest is violence against journalists in Latin America, specifically Mexico and  Colombia, in the war on drugs.

Ilan Unger is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. He received his B.S. in Business Management and a B.A. in Spanish/Portuguese from UNC-Asheville in 2013. His research interest is U.S. corporate strategy in Latin America, specifically how multinational companies adapt to the idiosyncrasies, policies, and history of the country in which they want to be established.

2014-15

Jihan Asher is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in History from the University of Maryland-College Park in 2014. Her research interests include economic and social development in Latin America, migration and citizenship, corporate social responsibilitiy, and the experiences of African-descended people in the Americas.

Pauline Batista Souza da Silva is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Communications from Mitchell College in 2014. Her research interests include immigration and border studies.

Charlie Fuentes is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. He received his B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Economics from Trinity College. He spent four years as an upper school Spanish teacher at Worcester Academy in Worcester, MA. He plans to focus his work on the role commerce and social media play in the development of identity in children and adolescents in the Latino community, particularly the undocumented community in the United States.

Alyssa Krinsky is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Geography from Southern Connecticut State University in 2014. Her research interests include environmental studies, geographic information systems, and human geography in the regions of South and Central America.

Tyra Lewis is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in English Literature, minor in Black Studies from Boston College, and a M.A. in Spanish and Spanish American literature from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her studies will focus on contemporary Afro-Hispanic women writers of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Matthew Perse is a second year student from Hudson, Ohio. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he graduated in 2011. Matthew lived, worked, and took graduate seminars at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina for 14 months before starting his studies at UConn. He will be researching Argentine social and cultural history, and is particularly interested in the world of Buenos Aires tango musicians in the early 20th Century. This is work he hopes to continue at the doctoral level.

Hannah Reier is a first year student graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Anthropology from Wheaton College. Her research focuses on the effect of American expat gated communities in Latin America; feminist methodologies and theory; sociocultural anthropology; gringoism; new media studies.

Ilan Sánchez is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. He received his B.A. in Social Communications from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico in 2012. His research interest is violence against journalists in latin America, specifically Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.

2013-14

Andrea Chunga-Celis is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Human Rights and Hispanic Studies from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Her research interests include indigenous and cultural rights in Peru. She plans to focus her research on visual representations of Peru’s armed conflict

Yesha Doshi is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.S. in Accounting and B.A. in Spanish from UConn in 2012. Her research interests include economic development in Mexico, effects of American corporations on Mexican culture and business relations between the United States and Latin America. Her final paper will explore the effect of Wal-Mart in Mexico on entrepreneurial development.

Inara Fernandez is a first year graduate student pursuing Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. Inara received a B.A. in Radio-TV-Film from The University of Texas in Austin. Her current research interests include the effects of globalization on indigenous cultures in South America as well as sustainable development practices. She aspires to work as a journalist or in the NGO sector.

Charlie Fuentes is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. He received his B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Economics from Trinity College. He spent four years as an upper school Spanish teacher at Worcester Academy in Worcester, MA. He plans to focus his work on the role commerce and social media play in the development of identity in children and adolescents in the Latino community, particularly the undocumented community in the United States.

Tyra Lewis is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in English Literature, minor in Black Studies from Boston College, and a M.A. in Spanish and Spanish American literature from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her studies will focus on contemporary Afro-Hispanic women writers of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Matthew Perse is a first year student from Hudson, Ohio. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he graduated in 2011. Matthew recently returned from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he lived, worked, and took graduate seminars at the Universidad de Buenos Aires for 14 months before starting his studies at UConn. He will be researching Argentine social and cultural his- tory, and is particularly interested in the world of Buenos Aires tango musicians in the early 20th Century. This is work he hopes to continue at the doctoral level.

Carla Silva-Muhammad is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. As an undergraduate at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil she majored in Portuguese and minored in Literature. For the past 6 years, Carla has worked as a Portuguese lecturer at different universities in Connecticut. Her research focuses on cyber-protesting in Brazil as a nonviolent form of social movement

2012-13

Aidalí Aponte-Avilés, Ph.D. student in the Literatures, Cultures and Languages Department and a teaching assistant for El Instituto’s PRLS/SPAN 1009 course. She has a Masters degree in Hispanic Studies from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, and a Bachelors degree in Natural Sciences (Biomedics) from the Inter-American Univeristy, Puerto Rico. Her research is focused on current Chilean cultural products, space and memory.

Maria Berger, Master of Arts in Latin American Studies with a concentration in History. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2010 with a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Horticulture. Her Master’s project explored migration from Peru to Chile with a focus on ethnicity, gender, and human rights.

Jorge Castillo received his B.A. in Spanish and Mexican American Studies from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio TX. In 2007 he completed his M.A. at UConn, where he is also finishing his Ph.D. Jorge’s research focuses on the influences of politico-economic factors in the construction of non-conforming genders and non-normative sexualities in Latin American and Caribbean cultural production at the turn of the 21st century.

Andrea Chunga-Celis is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Human Rights and Hispanic Studies from Trinity College in Hartford CT. Her resarch interests include indigenous and cultural rights in Peru. She plans to research Peru’s current education system and how recent history is taught to high school students.

Jennifer Colon, from Austin TX, Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. She was a research assistant and graduate representative for the UConn Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program. Her research interests are Puerto Rican women’s sexual identities in 20th centruy family planning debates in Puerto Rico.

Jennifer Cook, Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in International Development, she worked for an international labor rights organization based in Massachusetts. Jenny’s M.A. project focused on her work with Connecticut migrant farmworker populations, particularly regarding the ways in which they use social networks to negotiate their marginality.

Yesha Doshi is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. She received her B.S. in Accounting and a B.A. in Spanish from UConn in 2012. Her research interests include economic development in Mexico, effects of American corporations on Mexican culture and business relations between the United States and Latin America.

Carla Silva-Muhammad is a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. As an undergraduate at Universidade Federal do Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, she majored in Portuguese and minored in Literature. For the past six years, Carla has worked as a Portuguese lecturer at different universities in Connecticut. Her research focuses on slum tourism, community and participation, and Police Pacification Units (UPPs) in Rio de Janeiro.