Graduate Students


MA 23 Apoliana de Conceição dos SantosApoliana da Conceição dos Santos


Apoliana da Conceição dos Santos (she/her/ela/dela) is a first-year student pursuing an M.A. in Latina/o and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in Language and Literature and a postgraduate certificate in Applied Linguistics at the Federal University of Maranhão, Brazil. Before coming to UConn, she worked as a Portuguese teacher in São Luís, capital of Maranhão state. Last year, she was a Fulbright teaching Portuguese at UConn. Her research interests are in exploring racial perspectives within literary works. Her intention is to further expand her knowledge in the areas of racial and social studies within the Latin American context. She aims to gain a deeper understanding of how these studies can be applied to critically examine and deconstruct the historically constructed notion of racial democracy in Brazilian society. Her many other interests include writing, linguistics, languages, Brazilian and Latin American literature, and Culture.

MA 23 Maria I. Palacio CanoMaria Isabel Palacio-Cano


M. Isabel Palacio-Cano had a B.A. in Pedagogy from the University of Antioquia (Medellin, Colombia). She is a preschool teacher and primary school teacher. Her research interest is in the areas of Cultural studies, Critical Public Pedagogy, Adult learning, Colombian Conflict, and Interdisciplinary Research in Education.

MA 23 Menglu ChenMenglu Chen


Menglu Chen (She/her/ella) has a B.A. in Media Studies from Emerson College and minored in Latino and Latin American Literature. She is now a first-year student at El Instituto’s Master of Arts in International Studies program after a long and thrilling journey with her lovely doggie buddy Daniel Chen from Boston, Mexico City, and Shanghai, ending in Storrs, Connecticut. Her interests include literary and cultural interaction between Latin America and Asia, especially the circulation and translation of Latin American Literature in China. Her ideal research project is to study trees, the rubber tree forests that were transplanted physically from the Caribbean to Malaysia, and the iconic imagery of ¨the rubber tappers¨ in Latin American and Sinophone Literature.

MA 23 Melissa Pérez PeñaMelissa Pérez Peña


Melissa Pérez is a first-year student in El Instituto's Masters in Literature program. She holds a B.A. in Literature from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. She also holds an M.A. in Caribbean Literature from the Universidad de Antioquia.
For the past several years, her research has focused on the relationship between the maritorios and Caribbean poetic and literary production.

Jhinia Garcia


Jhinia Garcia graduated from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM, Peru) with a B.A. in Economics. She also got an M.A. in Public Administration from the Universidad San Martin de Porres (USMP, Peru). Previously, she worked as an Analyst in Planning and Budget for Ministerio de Defensa del Perú (MINDEF) and the Organismo Supervisor de la Inversión en Infraestructura de Transporte de Uso Público (OSITRAN). Also, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Marketing Group of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Her research interests are Behavioral Economics, Health Economics, and Education (relationship between teaching methodologies and motivation).


LuisPalominoforwebLuis Palomino


Luis Palomino is a first-year M.A. student in International Studies at El Instituto. He got a B.A. in Economics from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM, Peru). He is an Affiliated Researcher at the Research Center of Universidad del Pacifico (CIUP) and the Center for Mining and Sustainability Studies of Universidad del Pacifico (CEMS-UP). His research interests are regional development, economic geography, urban economics, economic history, human capital, experimental economics, and mechanism design. His work has been published by Palgrave Macmillan, Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and Fondo Editorial de la Universidad del Pacifico (Peru). In the past, he has been Research Assistant in the Research Department of the IADB, CIUP, in the Marketing Group of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and in the Macroeconomic Models Department of the Central Bank of Peru. He has also been a Teaching Assistant at the Universidad del Pacifico (UP) and the UNMSM.

Levinson H. Niño-Leal


Levinson H. Niño-Leal (He/him/el) is a first-year student at El Instituto’s Master of Arts in International Studies program. He graduated from Universidad Nacional de Colombia with a B.A. in Anthropology and a specialization in Public Policy Analysis. He has expertise in harm reduction programs and has worked as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to drug use and drug policy. Since 2017, he has represented Colombia as an activist in the Latin American Network of People who Uses Drugs -LANPUD. He is a founding member of the non-governmental organization Centro de Innovación, Cultura y Sociedad -CENICS- which is based in Bogota, Colombia, and  founding member of Red Internacional para la Reducción del Estigma [International Network for Stigma Reduction].

Alejandra Gutierrez-Lara


Alejandra Gutierrez-Lara (She/her/ella) is a first-year student at El Instituto’s Master of Arts in International Studies program. She loves to cook and spend time petting her cat Yavi. She graduated from Universidad Nacional de Colombia with a B.A. in Anthropology and a specialization in Feminism and Gender Studies. She has worked as an archeologist in Colombia, and is very interested in a critical analysis of the archaeological labor professional practice from a critical feminist, decolonial perspective. She is a member of the Gefa (Genero, Feminismo y Arqueología) Collective, and the Critical Archaeology Research group at Universidad Nacional de Colombia.


Crystal Elescano


Crystal Elescano (she/her/ella) has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Connecticut, and is now a first-year student at El Institutos M.A. program in International Studies. She is currently a bilingual reporter for the Meriden Record-Journal's Latino Communities Reporting Lab where she focuses on the Latino community in Meriden and surrounding areas—covering businesses, issues, traditions, etc. Her interests focus on los desaparecidos, political corruption, and terrorism in Latin America.



Joshua Hinostroza


Joshua Hinostroza (he/him/el) is a Connecticut native and first-year M.A. student in International Studies at El Instituto. He graduated magna cum laude from Central Connecticut State University in May 2022 with a B.S.Ed. in History. During his time at CCSU, he was a member of the Phi Alpha Theta history honors society. Shortly thereafter, he became certified as a secondary education social studies teacher. Currently, at UCONN, Josh is working with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to research ways in which the university can be more accessible for every student. His academic interests focus on the role of immigration on political and economic ideology in South America. Specifically, he aims to study the political, cultural and socioeconomic legacy of the coolie trade in Peru. On a broader scale, he is interested in the historical study of national identity through film and literature as well as the role of Peru in the modern geopolitical conversation



Ruth EdwardsRuth Edwards


Ruth Edwards has a B.A. in Puerto Rican and Latino Studies from Brooklyn College, and is now a second-year student in El Instituto’s MA program in Latina/o and Latin American Studies. Her interests include Black and Latinx small business formation and entrepreneurship, with a specific focus on the ethics and practices of care among BIPoC small business owners/managers and how the work of care links entrepreneurs with clients, workers and suppliers.


Zoé González-Lanza


ZoeZoé González-Lanza (she/her/ella) is a second year graduate pursuing an M.A. in Latina/o & Latin American Studies at El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus (UPRRP), with a bachelor's degree in Secondary Education and a concentration in History. She is a middle school social studies teacher and gender and family historian of the later nineteenth and early twentieth-century Puerto Rico. At El Instituto, she aims to develop historical research that studies the intersections of race and gender in Puerto Rico's marriage institution; particularly how the laws of coverture affected Puerto Ricans' citizenship and rights in the territory during 1899-1936. Other areas of interest are women's agencies in regarding and resignifying the state and hegemonic institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean.