Frances Melgarejo


Gainesville, FL / Norrköping, Sweden


B.A. in Portuguese-Brazilian Studies, Smith College


Indigenous traditions, the Amazon, shamanism, wellness, sustainability, cross-cultural engagement, music, performance art, feminism


Frances is a first-generation American and the product of a multicultural upbringing. Raised in Sweden and Florida by an Irish mother and a Peruvian father of Indigenous heritage, cultural appreciation has always been central to her life. Guided by her love for arts and culture, she began her academic career in Latin American Studies at Smith College with a degree in Portuguese-Brazilian studies. After graduation, she moved to Rio de Janeiro to pursue her interest in film and performance art. There she met Indigenous leaders from north and south America and was instantly struck by the beauty and power of their traditional practices. She became particularly interested in shamanism, and the use of sound and singing as healing instruments. Seeing clearly that Indigenous traditions had a lot to teach the modernized world, she was moved to pursue further studies of their culture.

During her time in Brazil, Frances worked as an English teacher and translator, notably writing a translation for an Indigenous Amazonian ethnotourism program proposal. After returning to the U.S., she became a wellness practitioner and workshop leader. Now, she seeks to expand her work into the fields of research and education in order to bring Indigenous knowledge systems to a wider audience. With that as her aim, she is grateful to be continuing her academic career at UF by pursuing a MALAS degree with a specialization in Indigenous Studies.