Our Alumni


GRAD Nina VazquezNina Vazquez (MA '21)

Is an M.A. graduate in Puerto Rican, Latinx, Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Nina graduated with a dual B.A. in Criminal Justice and Political Science with an emphasis in Racial and Ethnic Relations. Her interests are on the history of development of race and ethnicity in Latin America and the Caribbean, Puerto Rican citizenship and Puerto Rican radical politics from the 1930s to 1970s.


GA Oxana SidorovaOxana Sidorova (MA'21)

Received her B.A. in Marketing Management from the Don State Technical University, Russia. Her research interests are first and second language acquisition, translanguaging, language teaching and learning, world language education. She is particularly interested in bilingual and multilingual education, intercultural communication, intercultural competence, CLIL, project-based learning, designed-based learning, interdisciplinary in language teaching and learning.

Graduate Cap IconGenesis Carela (MA'21)

Received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island. She is interested in curriculum interventions in K-12 urban public schools, specifically the use of culturally sustaining pedagogy. Her long term goal is to work in the field of education policy to ensure that schools offer a high quality education that meets the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. Her thesis research explores instructional and curricular approaches that are responsive to students and include marginalized perspectives more generally.

2016 – 2020


Victoria Almodovar (MA '20) Victoria Almodovar (MA '20) completed a thesis project that explored  Latina/o/x student involvement in fraternities and sororities. Currently, she is exploring a career in Human Resources. Her  long-term goal is to help increase opportunities for Latinos in the United States through education, advocacy, and policy.
Julia Marchese (MA'20) Julia Marchese (MA'20) completed her B.A. in Spanish Literature and Translation ('18) at Kent State University. Her Master's thesis was an ethnography of a predominantly Latinx and (bi)lingual high school with an increasing number of undocumented indigenous Guatemalan students. She found that the schooling practices of these students need to be critically examined due to the discursive and academic erasure of Latinx indigeneity and indigenous language practices. Since graduating from UConn, Julia has been living in her hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio, and working with Co-Op Cincy to develop a composting cooperative, Queen City Commons, that provides residential and commercial composting drop off services to local community members. In the process, she has much enjoyed learning about anti-capitalist and unconventional alternatives to living and working.
Matheus Souza (MA'20) Matheus Souza (MA'20) completed his B.A. at the University of Connecticut. His research interests are the processes of creating, implementing and analyzing policies and government actions that meet the needs of society as a whole while strengthening the positive impact of governments, non-governmental organizations, and other civil society actors. Eventually he would like to work with international development agencies.



Felix Padilla-Carbonell (MA '19) Felix Padilla-Carbonell (MA '19) received a B.A. in Political Science and a Juris Doctor in Law from UPR-Rio Piedras. After completing his Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies at UConn, he has gone on to enrol in the doctoral program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is going to study Political Theory with a concentration in Critical Theory.
blank profile picture Gisely Colón-López (MA'19) completed a Master's thesis paper on the history of Puerto Rican studies at Brooklyn College. She is now an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies at Lehman College.



Stephanie Mercado-Irizarry (MA '18) received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras in 2014. After finishing her MA in Latina/o and Latin American Studies, she gained admission to UConn's doctoral program in Spanish language and literatures.
Cynthia Melendez (MA '18) is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the Department of Performance Studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She was awarded the 2018 Wood/Raith Living Trust Summer Fellowship on gender identity to continue her research on the theatrical work of LGBTIQ activists using testimonio within Peru. This work will act as a foundation for her doctoral studies.
Andrea Miranda (MA '18) is a graduate 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 (MA '18) is a 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 (MA '18) is a 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.
Lauren Perez-Bonilla (MA '18) is now studying for a doctorate in Geography at UConn. Her research topic is male sex workers' internet use in the Dominican Republic, including how notions of safety, community/networks, and identity are created online, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has favored a shift toward online advertising. An adaptation of her thesis paper  was published as a chapter in the book Gender, Health, and Society in Contemporary Latin America and the Caribbean (Shepard & Ginzburg, eds.). With fellow UConn PhD students Pauline Batista and Claudio Daflon, Perez-Bonilla has been awarded the Initiative on Campus Dialogues (ICD) Fellowship for the Vamos! project, a series of talks centered around the concept of 'Latinidad' and the Afro-Latinx community at UConn. Before coming to UConn, she completed a Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.
Katherine Pérez-Quiñones (MA '18) received her BA in Political Science in the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras. After completing her MA in Latinx and Latin American Studies at UConn, she continued to work in Connecticut at a local community organization around issues of food and social justice for the next two years. Kathy recently received a fellowship for the Community and Regional Planning PhD program at The University of Texas-Austin and hopes to continue collaborating closely with communities on social justice and place-based initiatives.
Cindy Portillo (MA '18) is a 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 (MA '17) received a B.S. in Business Management and B.A. in Spanish/Portuguese from UNC-Asheville. For his Master's thesis paper at El Instituto, he research the effects of the 2001 economic crises of Argentina  on trade (imports and exports). He now works as an ALIM consultant at STOR Global.
Katheryn Maldonado (MA '17) did her Master's thesis paper on activist efforts to overturn the denationalization of Haitian ancestry people in the Dominican Republic. She is now pursuing a J.D. at William and Mary.
blank profile picture Katherine Quinn (MA '17) completed her master's thesis paper in spring 2017, assessing the effectiveness of the Model School Network in achieving holistic human development for school children in the Plateau Central, Haiti.



blank profile picture Jihan Asher (MA '16) completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland. In her MA thesis paper at El Instituto, she explored organized and spontaneous responses to the abandonment of community policing models in Jamaica in the second decade of the 21st century. Comparing the way that community members in Kingston rallied around Christopher Coke when the Jamaican government sought to assist the U.S. in extraditing him with earlier and more clearly recognized instances of political rebellion and revolt, she suggested their spontaneous enactments of allegiance responded to Coke's material investment in the futures of members of their community. She now works as Secure World Foundation's Operations and Communications Coordinator based in Washington, DC.
Pauline Batista (MA ’16) returned to UConn in Fall 2017 to being work on her PhD. In the Neag School of Education’s Learning, Leadership and Educational Policy program. Pauline was a torch bearer for the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero Brazil.
Ilan Sanchez Moreno (MA'15) Ilan Sanchez Moreno (MA ’16) works in the World Languages department at The College Preparatory School in Oakland CA where he teaches Literature and Spanish.
Melvin J. Medina (MA '16) serves as Public Policy and Advocacy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT). His primary responsibility is to lead the organization’s efforts to create and maintain community engagement through education, member attainment, and general outreach.
blank profile picture Hannah Reier (MA '16) wrote her MA thesis paper on American retirement colonies in Ecuador.

2011 – 2015


Charlie Fuentes (MA ’15) is a Spanish teacher and head boys’ soccer coach at Choate Rosemary Hall.
blank profile picture Tyra Lewis (MA ’15) is Assistant Director of Academic Advising at Clark University.
Matthew Perse (MA ’15) is chair of the World Languages Department, and Instructor of Spanish at Christ School, Arden, NC.



Carla Silva-Muhammad (MA ’14) is Director of Strategy and Operations at Relay Connecticut.
Yesha Doshi (MA ’14) is a Senior Accountant at Priceline.
Andrea Chunga-Celis (MA ’14) is a Grants Coordinator for Adelante Mujeres, a nonprofit organization working to educate and empower low-income Latina women and families in the state of Oregon.



Maria Berger (MA ’13) works as an adjunct faculty member teaching Hispanic Culture and Communication in UConn's College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. She also works as a freelance Spanish translator and tutor. She has traveled to China, Panama, Chile, and South Africa and enjoys every culture and their unique traditions.
Jenniann Colon (MA ’13) oversees the Relocation Department and Employee Services at Valero Energy Corporation. She served as Executive Director of Ballet San Antonio and prior to that was Director of Communications for Academica SouthWest.
Jennifer A. Cook (MA ’13) Ph.D. Anthropology ’17) did a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX focused on immigration policy and public policy impacting Latinos. She now works as a consultant for the labor rights monitor group, Verite, based in Amherst, MA.



Ruth Hernández-Ríos (MA ’12) completed a doctorate in Sociology at UConn in 2020, based on extensive ethnographic research with a woman-led transnational Mexican community theatre collective. She is now a Lecturer in Sociology at Skidmore College. She is now a Teaching Professor in Sociology at Skidmore College. In addition to her academic work, she is an activist involved in various community projects that aid temporary and permanent Latina/o migrants in Connecticut.



blank profile picture Andrea Vega Mackler (MA '11) is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in UConn's Spanish Department. Her areas of interest are the connections between translation and culture, and the influence of translation on Argentinean literature.

2005 – 2010


William Otto Katt (MA ’10) William Otto Katt (MA ’10) is an expert advisor in the Lewis-Burke law firm in Washington, DC, in the areas of higher education, workforce, immigration, and tax policy. Before joining Lewis-Burke, Katt served as the Education Advisor for Tennessee Representative Phil Roe, a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
Ronnie Shepard (MA ’10 and Ph.D. in Anthropology ’16) currently holds positions as an adjunct professor and instructor at both UConn and Goodwin College. He is a social scientist experienced in teaching and conducting qualitative research and community outreach at the local and international levels.



Maria Cristina Durango Chavez (MA ’08) is General Manager and Director and Corporate Governance Manager at MG Head Hunting, Querétaro, Mexico.



Yazmín A. García Trejo (MA '07) is a survey statistician and researcher at the US Census Bureau, Center for Survey Measurement. She works directly with the language and cross cultural group and studies the link between Census participation and Census knowledge among hard-to-count populations.



Kerry Stefancyk (MA ’06) went on to earn an MS in Global Affairs, International Development and Humanitarian Assistance, from NYU in 2016. She is a project manager with the Wells Fargo Community Mural Program in the San Francisco Bay area.
blank profile picture Maria Fernanda Enriquez Szentkirály (MA ’06) received her PhD in Political Science from UConn in 2014. She is Future Earth Administrative Officer & Global Sustainability Scholars Coordinator at the Sustainability Innovation Lab at the University of Colorado.
Emma Amador (MA ’06) received her Ph.D. in History in 2015 from the University of Michigan. She is an Assistant Professor of History and Latina/o, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies at UConn.



GRAD Mayte Restrepo Ruiz Mayte Restrepo Ruiz (MA 05', MPH 14', PhD. 21') dissertation focused on the association between armed conflict, intimate partner violence and women's mental health. She was awarded the UConn Human Rights Dissertation Research award and the Emerging Scholar Award from the Harry Fran Guggenheim Foundation to complete my dissertation. She is a Research Assistant in the Department of Public Health Sciences at UConn Health since 2016 and oversee health services research and evaluation projects.