Alumni News & Notes

         

Alumni from the University of Florida's Center for Latin American Studies undertake interdisciplinary programs, which build capacities and connections for engaged work throughout the region. We encourage you to browse through the alumni profiles below, to learn more about the accomplishments garnered by Center alumni.


Avecita Chicchon and Gustavo Fonseca (TCD Alumni)

Avecita Chicchon and Gustavo Fonseca (TCD Alumni)

Our alumni spotlight is shared by two accomplished individuals, Dr. Avecita del Carmen Chicchón and Dr. Gustavo Alberto Fonseca.

Both Drs. Fonseca and Chicchón graduated from the University of Florida where they participated in the interdisciplinary Tropical Conservation and Development Program from the Center for Latin American Studies. In December 2017, as recognition for their outstanding achievements, Dr. Chicchón and Dr. Fonseca were awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Florida.

Read our interview with Dr. Chicchon and Dr. Fonseca!

Meredith Fenson

MA Latin American Studies, 2004

My degree in Latin American Studies has made me a unique candidate in the workforce with a well-rounded view of the continent. My MALAS degree has given me knowledge of the history, political structure, and culture that shape the countries and affect how they conduct business. Also, the language requirements encouraged me to learn Brazilian Portuguese which has set me apart from other candidates and has been very helpful when working with the Brazilian government.

MALAS Alumna

Maria Fernanda Checa Villafuerte

PhD Entomology / Tropical Conservation and Development Cert, 2016

Throughout her graduate career at UF, Maria Fernanda has been committed to translating her scientific research to benefit her home country. In 2012, Maria Fernanda received the Marianne Schmink Innovation Award to support a community-based project that tested the feasibility of butterfly farming initiatives as a tool for sustainable development. She has published several scientific papers, popular articles and two books on butterflies.

TCD Alumna

Daniel McQuillan

Master of Sustainable Development Practice, 2012

Daniel is currently the Manager of the Agriculture & Livelihoods portfolio for Catholic Relief Services in Guatemala and Mexico, based in Guatemala City. He oversees projects related to value chains such as coffee, food security, and natural resource management in the Dry Corridor and Western Highlands of Guatemala as well as in Oaxaca in Mexico.

MDP Alumnus

Meredith Fenson

MA Latin American Studies, 2004

My degree in Latin American Studies has made me a unique candidate in the workforce with a well-rounded view of the continent. My MALAS degree has given me knowledge of the history, political structure, and culture that shape the countries and affect how they conduct business. Also, the language requirements encouraged me to learn Brazilian Portuguese which has set me apart from other candidates and has been very helpful when working with the Brazilian government.

MALAS Alumna

Alumni Updates

  • Korey Force (MALAS 2013) returned to Costa Rica after graduating with her MALAS degree to present the findings of her thesis to the Esparza community. She then taught high school Spanish for 2 years in Florida and Illinois. In March of 2015, Korey began working as the Outreach Coordinator in the Study Abroad Office at Western Michigan University. In addition to handling the marketing and recruitment for the office, she also works with students as they re-enter the country and struggle with reverse culture shock and communicating their experience to a variety of audiences.
  • Jason F. Taylor (JD/MALAS 2011) is an attorney at law at Taylor | Alderman. He was elected to the South Carolina Bar, House of Delegates (2016 - 2018 term) and is an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston. Jason has taught international studies courses on Drug, Guns, and Gangs in the Americas and Beyond; Comparative Social Movements; and was a Cuba Study Abroad Program Assistant. He has also taught courses on Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS), such as Trade and Human Rights Law in the Americas; Latin American Social Movements and Human Rights; and Law and Policy in the Americas.
  • Nicole Sarrine (LAS undergraduate certificate 2010) worked in Washington, D.C. at BGR Group, for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, and in the United States Senate. Nicole enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law in August 2013, and she earned a law degree in May 2016. Nicole returned to the Senate after her first year at law school to clerk for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and she spent the following summer working in the D.C. office of the international law firm Hughes, Hubbard & Reed. After taking the Bar exam in 2016, Nicole returned to Hughes Hubbard in D.C. to begin her legal career.

Alumni Updates

  • Brian Bombassaro (LAS Cert 2006) joined the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance in October 2017. As international trade counsel, he is responsible for advising the committee on international trade law and policy. From 2012 to 2017, Bombassaro was an associate at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP in Washington, DC. While in private practice, his work included several projects involving Latin America, including representation of the governments of Brazil, El Salvador, and Panama and counseling on legal aspects of debts of the governments of Argentina, Belize, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico.
  • Heather Leila Jordan (LAS 2003) is a Field Operations Officer at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health. Through her job, she supports an HIV treatment project in Zambézia Province, Mozambique. The University of Florida Portuguese program opened up a career in Lusophone Africa for Heather. After graduation, Heather volunteered with the Peace Corps in Mozambique. She later earned her master’s degree in Public Health and worked for World Vision Angola for two years.
  • Mariana Varese (MALAS 1999) is the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Amazon Landscapes Program, which encompasses five highly biodiverse and complex landscapes totaling 400,000 km2 in Bolivia (Madidi-Tambopata), Brazil (Rio Negro), Colombia (Piedemonte), Ecuador (Llanganates-Yasuni), and Peru (Yavari-Samiria). She currently leads a project on exploring the conditions and possibilities to implement a citizen science approach in the Amazon at the scale of the basin, both aggregating local participatory monitoring initiatives and exploring new ways of engaging Amazon citizens in science and conservation.
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Camila Pazos, Deputy Director, Echoing Green (MDP 2012)

Camila Pazos, Deputy Director, Echoing Green (MDP 2012)

"One of the greatest things about the University of Florida is the diversity of the student body and the diversity of programs that are available. We would bring scholars from across the world to the Center for Latin American Studies, and convene with the Center for Africans Studies to learn and engage with each other in a way that nowadays is so important."

Read Camila's Full Interview!
Wendy Pond, U.S. Office of Government Ethics (MALAS 2006)

Wendy Pond, U.S. Office of Government Ethics (MALAS 2006)

"My MALAS degree and related internships gave me the foothold into my current career. While in the MALAS program I interned at the State Department. I didn’t know it at the time, but that internship introduced me to two of my future bosses. When I graduated from the MALAS program, I immediately moved to Washington, D.C. to start the Hispanic Division Huntington Fellowship Program at the Library of Congress."

Read Wendy's Full Interview!
Sydney Nilan, Regional Program Director, Runa Foundation (MDP 2013)

Sydney Nilan, Regional Program Director, Runa Foundation (MDP 2013)

"What is great about the Center and its affiliated programs, such as Tropical Conservation and Development and the Master of Sustainable Development Practice program, is the wealth of resources and the faculty that students are able to access, take advantage of, and learn from."

Read Sydney's Full Interview!

Alumni Interviews

We encourage you to read through our alumni interviews to learn more about the diverse career fields our alumni work in, and the expertise they bring to their field of work and their communities.

Read our alumni interviews!
Alumni Interviews

Alumni Update Form

We are very proud that the Center for Latin American Studies has assisted so many of you in achieving your educational and professional goals. A central goal of the Center is to facilitate the building of an even stronger network of UF Latin American Studies alumni. If you have not already done so, please take a minute to complete the Alumni Update Form.

Alumni Update Form