MA STUDENTS

CURRENT COHORT | 2016-17

Group 2_0.jpg

 

ROHAN CHATTERJEE

BA | University of Manchester

BEFORE THE UOFC
I lived in Venezuela for nearly two years, during which time Hugo Chavez died and the country was rocked by widespread protests. It was a unique and unexpected experience, to say the least. More recently I moved to the US and have been slowly crafting a life here, which is an equally unique adventure in its own right.  

I completed my undergraduate study at the University of Manchester in England – home to famous football clubs, Oasis and lots of rain. 

ACADEMIC INTERESTS
Aside from developing a broader understanding of Latin America, my main focus point will be the state formation of modern Andean nations; specifically, but not exclusively, Peru. I am particularly drawn to state-democratic relationships as well as social and political organizations and movements. 

WHY THE MA PROGRAM IN LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO?
Multiple factors brought me to Chicago. Aside from the institution’s reputation, and world-class faculty, the opportunity to complete a one-year program also allows me to study and enter the professional world at my preferred pace.  

EXTRAS TO NOTE
I’m a keen football (soccer for those non-anglophiles) and cricket player and fan. Most of my Saturdays will be spent lightly studying with games on in the background. Any chance to play I take gladly. 

READING INTERESTS: I just finished a marathon fourteen part book series called The Wheel of Time. [Currently, I am] reading various books for the upcoming year. 

ROBERT FIGUEROA

BA |
University of Wisconsin, Afro-American Studies and History

 

BEFORE THE UOFC
[I] worked in public school system of my hometown and traveled to Haiti a few years after the earthquake.

ACADEMIC INTERESTS
History, political theory, Latin American and Caribbean constructs of race, Caribbean literature, Haitian history and culture

WHY THE MA PROGRAM IN LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO?The reputation of the university, the interdisciplinary approach of the program, and the affiliated faculty stood out immediately. Likewise, personal interests and roots in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Chicago itself, were very attractive.

EXTRAS TO NOTE
I enjoy reading science fiction and speculative fiction and watching films from around the world. 
READING INTERESTS: [I recently finished] Walter Mosley’s Rose Gold, a thrilling detective novel set in Los Angeles during the 1960s. Next on the list is George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin

REBECCA HERSHOCK

BA | Grinnell College, History and Anthropology


 

BEFORE THE UOFC
During the past summer, I was working on an archaeological field site of an Iron Age ring fort in Ireland as a student assistant. I was also working at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Mardigian Library on projects related to increased community involvement.

ACADEMIC INTERESTS
My primary academic interests are modern Central American history, especially Guatemala, specifically regarding human rights abuses and how these nations define themselves, both on a global scale and within their own region.

WHY THE MA PROGRAM IN LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO?
What really attracted me about this program was the interdisciplinary that it took to a topic that I’m really passionate about. I was excited to have the opportunity to combine a historical approach with perspectives from anthropology, sociology, and gender studies. I feel that many of the social sciences work extremely well in tandem with each other, and that more effective research can come from combining different types of approaches.

EXTRAS TO NOTE
Tragically, I do not have superpowers (though I do plan on hanging around the science buildings hoping to be bitten by a radioactive spider). I do love participating in debate and have done so since middle school, I speak some Polish as well as Spanish, and I’m very allergic to cats.
READING INTERESTS: The last book I read was King Leopold’s Ghost, a study of Belgian colonization of the Congo and the eventual international outcry over the human rights abuses there. I next hope to get around to reading When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away, which is about the changing role of women in colonial Mexico.

KERRY LEPAIN

BA | Arizona State University; History and French


 

BEFORE THE UOFC
I have been living in Paris, France for the three years prior to the start of this program working for a luxury textile designer in business with interior architects and architects worldwide. I’ve been taking advantage of my remaining time in Paris, as well as traveling around Europe seeing as much as possible before returning to the US.

I completed my BA in History and French, with an additional concentration in Portuguese at Arizona State University (I miss all the cacti!). I started with European History, but caught a Latin bug after studying in São Paulo Brazil.

ACADEMIC INTERESTS
I’m Alaskan by birth and spent half of my childhood there. I guess opposites attract, because I’ve been fascinated by the Amazon for as long as I can remember, which likely pushed my decision to study in Brazil. I’m interested in indigenous history, specifically in the Amazon, human – environment relations, and sustainable development. I’m hoping to investigate environmental questions in the Brazilian Amazon within a larger international/ global context.

I love all things history and anthropology, both in and outside Latin America. I’ve spent a lot of time back and forth between Paris and Rome, so I enjoy learning about their past. I have definite soft spots for Medieval Europe and Ancient Rome and Greece. 

WHY THE MA PROGRAM IN LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO?
I’ve heard that the UofC places particular emphasis on multidisciplinary programs, which seems important in area studies, as well as in an increasingly interconnected world. It will also be wonderful to study Latin America in a city with a thriving Latin American community, which is something about Chicago I only recently discovered.

EXTRAS TO NOTE
I used to study viola and play in an orchestra quite a lot, although it’s difficult to travel with an instrument so it’s been years since I’ve played much. I toy with the idea of picking it up again someday. I do really enjoy running marathons, and get very serious when I’m training for one. I’m planning on signing up for the Chicago Marathon in 2017, and might try my luck at a triathlon as well.

READING INTERESTS: [The last book I read was] 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Right now, I’m in the middle of several books: Amazonian Routes – Heather Roller; The Crusades from Arab Eyes – Amin Maalouf; The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational – Nick Robins

JIAN REN

BA |
University of Sydney, International and Global Studies


 

BEFORE THE UOFC
I completed my undergraduate study at the University of Sydney in Australia. Living in Australia for three years was one of the best decisions in my life – I successfully escaped from the choking smog in Beijing.

Prior to beginning this program I attended a math camp for social sciences. I have been away from math for years, but quantitative skills are quite important for both academic and professional careers, so I bravely embraced the mathematical world again. 

ACADEMIC INTERESTS
History and political science. As a Chinese studying the Americas, I am particularly interested in the historical interaction between Latin America and East Asia, including issues such as international trade, diplomatic relations, slavery and migration.

WHY THE MA PROGRAM IN LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO?
The interdisciplinary nature, internationally recognized faculty and a small class size.

EXTRAS TO NOTE
I really enjoy travelling and write travel blogs frequently – many of them have got thousands of viewers. My dream destination in the Americas is Caribbean Island St. Maarten’s Maho Beach, because extreme plane spotting and jet blasts are always fascinating! 

READING INTERESTS: [I last read] Libro de las Preguntas by Pablo Neruda and The Rose of Time by Bei Dao. I love poems and memoirs. 

ELIZABETH RODDY

BA | University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Music and Human Reseources major, Art History minor
 

BEFORE THE UOFC
Prior to beginning this program, I spent the past year working in Human Resources and singing around the Twin Cities. Some of my favorite projects from the past year included singing in a rock opera, and premiering a new collection of works that, written by a Minneapolis composer and inspired by the musical and theological work of St. Hildegard of Bingen, explored elements of speech, sound, and noise in the female voice. 

ACADEMIC INTERESTS
My academic and artistic interests lie in the art and music of the first half of the 20th century in Latin America. I am curious about how the societal and cultural settings in which these works were produced inform the reception and/or performance of these works today.

WHY THE MA PROGRAM IN LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO?
I was searching for an opportunity to focus on Latin American studies from a multidisciplinary perspective, with a strong focus in the music, art, literature, and poetry of the 20th century. I was attracted to the structure and flexibility of this program, and was particularly interested in the courses offered. I value the variety of opportunities this program offers and the chance to create my own path of study based on my interests in both music and art. 

EXTRAS TO NOTE
I come from a wonderful family that loves to eat, make music, and watch baseball together. As such I’m an avid baseball fan (Go Giants!). I follow the NYTimes “what to cook this week” column religiously, and I like to try new recipes whenever I get a chance. I also love to do yoga, read, and visit museums. 

READING INTERESTS: I most recently read The Judgement of Paris: Manet, Meisonnier, and an Artistic Revolution, by Ross King, and Bodas de Sangre, by Federico García Lorca. Next up is Eva Luna by Isabel Allende.