Current BA Students

Class of 2016 Majors

Peter Ballou

Major(s): Latin American Studies

Minor(s): Human Rights

Area of Interest: I became interested in Latin American Studies after really enjoying learning Portuguese and wanting to learn and travel in Brazil. My interests evolved naturally into being broadly interested in Latin America.

Post-Graduation Plans: Work in Chicago or Washington, DC for at least a few years, potentially with non-profits or human rights organizations but I am applying to a wide variety of organizations and businesses.

Ana Gonzalez

Major(s): Latin American Studies & Sociology

Area of Interest: Although I am Mexican and grew up in Miami, my academic encounters with Latin American history and literature were always brief, always tangential. LACS allowed me to take a Mexican history class for the first time. Fascinated by the question of the Mexican Revolution’s social success, I now study the sociology of elite, private school networks and educational stratification in Mexico City.

Post-Graduation Plans: I hope to work at an arts organization before applying to grad school!

Ander Iruretagoyena

Major(s): Economics & Latin American Studies

Certificate Programs: Dougan Scholars Program with the Booth School of Business

Area of Interest: I became interested in Latin American Studies because I was born and raised in Mexico City. My areas of specialization are economics, business and drug trafficking.

Post-Graduation Plans: I will be working at the Bank of America as an Investment Banking Analyst.

Kelly Keough


James McDonough

Major(s): Latin American Studies

Area of Interest: A good part of my interest in Latin America comes from my Spanish language study, first as a middle-school student in Texas, then with family trips to language schools in Mexico and Costa Rica and finally with extended periods living and studying in Ecuador and most recently Chile. Studying Latin America at the University of Chicago has allowed me to combine my interest in politics, history, and literature with my enjoyment of Spanish and recently Portuguese language study, and has provided me great flexibility to pursue my curiosity as I attempt to better understand a region that continues to captivate me as a reader, traveler, and student.

Post-Graduation Plans: I'm currently searching for positions in development and research in Washington, D.C.

Cristina Schaver

Major(s): Latin American Studies & Global Studies

Area of Interest: I originally became a Latin American Studies minor because of the credit accrued through the Portuguese classes I took. I realized my third year that, all along, the courses I had been taking for International Studies were majority focused on Latin America. Thus, the minor became a double major. I suppose this happened naturally, as I was already curious about and interested in Latin America due to a shared language, as Spanish was my first language. My BA thesis is on Central American migration through Mexico to the United States.

Post-Graduation Plans: I am fairly certain that graduate school is in my near(ish) future.

Adaline Torres

Majors: Latin American Studies & History

Area of Interest: I became interested in Latin American Studies because I grew up in Puerto Rico. Throughout these years, I've studied contemporary Latin America. Right now I'm writing a BA thesis on Mexican civil society after the 1985 Mexico City earthquakes.

Post-Graduation Plans: Move to another big city

Class of 2016 Minors

Michael Goodyear

Major(s): History & Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Minor(s): Latin American Studies

Area of Interest: I primarily study Byzantine history, but I wanted to learn more about the incredibly vibrant history and culture of Latin America. Taking "Law and Citizenship in Latin America" with Professor Fischer made me become fascinated by the intricacies of Latin American societies, especially in regards to national politics and European influence.

Post-Graduation Plans: I hope to pursue a career in student affairs at a university.

Maya Handa

Major(s): Public Policy

Minor(s): Latin American Studies

Area of Interest: I lived in Mexico when I was little, and then studied abroad there during my second year. During that time I was fascinated by Mexico's history and political situation, so I began to take classes in that area. I currently study (and am writing my BA on) Mexico's largest social welfare program, which was very innovative when it was implemented in the 1990s.

Post-Graduation Plans: I will work for a few years and then hopefully get a Master's degree in Public Policy.

Tianjian Lai

Major(s): Sociology

Minor(s): Latin American Studies

Area of Interest: I became interested in Latin America after taking Latin American Civilizations courses, learning Portuguese, and going to Brazil with a Foreign Language Acquisition Grant

Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing a PhD in Sociology

Lauraly Laurent

 Major(s): East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Minor(s): Latin American Studies

Area of Interest: I wanted to learn more about Latin American history, in particular Mexican History. I realized that in my academic career, my history courses mainly focused on European history, so I wanted the chance to branch out.

Post-Graduation Plans: I plan on taking a gap year or two to work within the field of education advocacy. Afterwards, I would like to attend graduate school for public policy.

Kirsten Wiard-Bauer

Major(s): Economics & Mathematics with a Specialization in Economics

Minor(s): Latin American Studies

Area of Interest: In high school I studied abroad in Honduras, so entering UChicago I already had a burgeoning interest in the Spanish language and Latin American history. My interest in Latin American Studies only grew as I began to take Portuguese courses at UChicago and I knew I wanted to learn as much about the culture and history of the region as possible, while still completing a B.S. in Mathematics.

Post-Graduation Plans: My goal is to become a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, though my plans for directly after graduation are still unknown.

Class of 2017 Majors

Kent Fernandez

Major(s): Latin American Studies

Area of interest: urban planning, human rights and social spectacles in Latin America

Post-Graduation Plans: I hope to work for an NGO or other international organization on human rights issues

Christopher Munoz

 Major(s): Latin American Studies & International Studies

Area of Interest: I recognized the important links between the US and Latin America, specifically thinking about Mexico and immigration. I have specialized mostly in Mexico but am looking to study Cuba and the Caribbean.

Post-Graduation Plans: Either work in the non-profit/NGO sector, government or pursue a PhD.

Marielena Segovia

Major(s): Latin American Studies & Comparative Human Development

Area of Interest: Latin American civilization ties back to my roots - my parents are from Latin America, and I have always wanted to study more about the civilization where I come from. I am mostly interested in Central America.

Post-Graduation Plans: I plan on either taking a gap year or going straight to graduate school (either law school or another graduate school of choice).

Adela Zhang

Major(s): Latin American Studies & Economics

Area of Interest: I spent part of my gap year in Peru, working at a government-run child care center for families at the poverty line. That experience, in conjunction with many of the excellent classes in Latin American studies that I’ve taken at UChicago (e.g. Human Rights and Development in Latin America and Latin American Civilizations I), whetted my appetite for an involved and considered approach to making sense of modern Latin America. I am currently interested in Chinese state-owned enterprises that operate in extractive sectors where large indigenous communities are located, like Peru and Bolivia.

Post-Graduation Plans: I’d like to continue doing research and go to graduate school.

Class of 2017 Minors

Mingchen (Bruce) Chi

Major(s): Economics

Minor(s): Latin American Studies    

Area of Interest: I became interested in Latin America because I study Spanish and have friends from Latin America.

Post-Graduation Plans: I am planning to go into private industry.

Saul Levin

Major(s): Geography & Environmental Studies

Minor(s): Latin American Studies

Area of Interest: My interest in Latin America originated when I started studying Spanish in an immersion elementary school at the age of 4.  Since then I have studied a lot of Spanish, traveled widely in the region and experienced the wonderful culture firsthand.  My interest in the subject at UChicago began when I started taking the Portuguese sequence my first year.  I have now completed both years of Portuguese offered here.  My areas of interest are the tropical ecology and conservation of the Amazon rainforest and urban planning, transportation, and design in Latin American cities. 

Post-Graduation Plans: After graduation I hope to be a city or town planner and focus on the environment and the interests of the local community.

Class of 2018 Majors

Chase Harrison 

Major(s): Latin American Studies & Political Science 

I became interested in Latin American Studies while debating in high school. Latin American topics were my favorite to debate because I found their political environments exciting and dynamic. As I read and studied the region, I came to realize how intertwined its history is with the United States'. After two trips to Latin America, I knew I wanted to study the region in college to further understand its history and its relations with the US.

Post-Graduation Plans: I hope to work in US politics and use my knowledge of Latin America to try to shift attention back to its importance for US foreign policy.