Read what some current students and recent graduates have to say about the program…

Sasha CookeSasha Cooke

Having lived in Mexico for a year after high school, I knew I wanted to study something related to Latin America and culture. Although I originally considered majoring in Anthropology, it soon became clear that Latin American Studies offered me the more interdisciplinary and qualitative approach that I was seeking in my education.

Looking back on the last four years, my mind is blown at the diversity of the topics and disciplines I’ve studied: languages, linguistics, literature, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, history, political science, and geography; not to mention my electives in education, psychology, philosophy, computer science, creative writing, and visual arts. The flexibility also enabled me to study for a semester in Granada, Spain, which enriched my life and learning in unforeseeable ways, and gave direction to my professional path.

Latin American Studies truly offers the opportunity to receive a well rounded Liberal Arts education, with a focus on a part of the world that I always wanted to work in professionally. Through the study abroad opportunity that the program opened up for me, I am now working as a Translation Coordinator for the Arsayian Foundation in Argentina.

I now feel confident walking into my professional life with a well-rounded and diverse understanding – socially, linguistically, historically, politically, and culturally – of the part of the world my heart has pulled me to work in.

Sasha Cooke
LAS Major, UBC

Jen Gebert

Hi, my name is Jen Gebert, and I’m in the last year of my Latin American Studies major and it has absolutely been the best education I could want from a university. The major is actually one that requires critical thinking that has the potential and inspiration to enact change in the world.

I spent some time working in Mexico in between my second and third years of my degree and fell in love with the country. So I suppose that was the first reason that led me to look into declaring my major in Latin American Studies. I seem to get asked a lot about my choice, because apparently it’s not as common as a business degree or history. But along with all the probing questions, I am able to answer that the program is what I consider a true liberal arts education.

I get to tell people that the LAS program is great because it’s multi-disciplinary. I have studied Spanish language, history, anthropology, art history, political science, geography, and humanity.

I am so glad to be finishing my degree with this specialization because I feel like it has made me a more critical of what we call “knowledge,” and has made me a better person. Through Spanish classes and interactions I had with many students from Latin America that are a part of the program, my Spanish fluency has improved as well. That’s an amazing tool to take into the world. I’m grateful that the program includes courses that forced me to reconsider my ideas about gender, borders, the construction of history, and how we understand race among many other things.

I’m excited for what will be next when I finish this degree in December… All I know is that I feel there is a great potential for involvement, interaction and understanding as a result of how my horizon changed by being involved in the LAS program at UBC.

Jen Gebert
LAS Major, UBC

John Hayes

Beyond a personal affinity for the Americas, I chose Latin American Studies because of its interdisciplinary approach to getting a degree.

Instead of specializing in one academic discipline and exhausting the course list that a department offers, Latin American Studies gives you the freedom and flexibility to reach into many different disciplines and become well informed on the Americas from a diversity of perspectives.

Because of how the degree requirements are set up, if you aren’t a native speaker you are required to learn Spanish, so when you go on exchange or travel, you’re ready. No need for package tours and all inclusive in seedy tourist traps. . . you get access to a more genuine side of Latin America and on your own terms.

All this and a solid department of dedicated professors have made my decision to get a BA in Latin American Studies memorable and worthwhile.

John Hayes
LAS Major, UBC

Katie Horn

The Latin American Studies program is essential for anyone who wishes to have a future career working in the region. I majored in Anthropology, but the Latin American Studies program allowed me to further specialize in the region of the world that interested me most. It was great that I was also able to receive a minor in Latin American Studies as this has made all the difference in appealing to potential employers.

Following graduation in 2007, I relocated to Nicaragua for 3 years where I confidently became fluent in Spanish and got involved with the nonprofit world. During this time I was able to work with local communities, humanitarian groups and facilitate much needed medical and veterinary care for Nicaraguans and their animals.

From this experience and aided by my educational background, I am currently employed by an international nonprofit organization, World Vets, whose projects are predominately located in Latin America.

Katie Horn
International Logistics Coordinator, World Vets

Esteban Izquierdo

I am currently working on a Latin American Studies Minor to go along with a Sociology Major. One of my main Sociological interests is immigration, in particular from what we call Latin America to North America.

The program has allowed me to explore, analyze and understand the part of the globe which interests me most in an interdisciplinary environment that provides a well-rounded view of the region, its culture and people. So far I have taken and enjoyed LAST100, LAST201 and GEOG395. I am currently enrolled in LAST 301. These classes have explored Latin America from diverse angles such as Art History, Geography, History and Spanish.

From the Popol Vuh to neopoliciacos, human rights to social movements, the Latin American Studies program has provided a refreshing academic space unlike any I’ve experienced at UBC.

Esteban Izquierdo
LAS Minor, UBC

Isabelle Maurice-Hammond

Hi! My name is Isabelle Maurice-Hammond, and I am currently a third year Anthropology major with a minor in Latin American studies. Together, these two things constitute what I believe to be the best scholastic experience that I could ever have hoped to have. I never thought I’d love school this much.

My interest in Latin America goes back to when I was 6 years old and my family moved to Honduras. We stayed there for a few years and I fell in love with the place. Living in Latin America is an experience that has never left me…literally. My little brother and foster sister were both adopted from Tegucigalpa. A subsequent visit to the Yucatan in Mexico simply strengthened the knowledge that learning about Latin America is what I want to do with my life.

So far, I have got a lot out of this program. As a hopeful future archaeologist, classes on subjects such as Mesoamerican archaeology have kept me on the edge of my seat. What I particularly love about this program is its multi-disciplinary approach, allowing me to mix history and anthropology classes while maintaining the same degree. I love my Ethnography of Mesoamerica class, and look forward to learning about Gender and Sexuality in Latin America.

Latin America is a place of great cultural diversity and heterogeneity as well as incredible endurance. It is multifaceted and multi-layered. Despite centuries of change, it still holds its own. By studying the region and its history, we can learn so much about the endurance of humanity and of culture in a changing world. I look forward to a lifetime of learning more about it.

Isabelle Maurice-Hammond
LAS Minor, UBC

Sonia Medel

My name is Sonia Medel and in 2008 I completed my undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies. Today I am in a place that I never expected to end up when I took my first LAS 100 class, but that nonetheless has every bit to do with my journey through LAS at UBC. I first took LAS courses because I was looking for a “home” at UBC in which to explore the cultures of my parents’ homelands, cultures that were very much a part of me. LAS offered me a space in which to explore theories of development, culture, politics, and most importantly to understand the contexts of modern day societies. However, what stands out the most to me are the professors, such as Rita De Grandis and Felice Wyndham, who inspired me with their passion for social movements and critical pedagogies to research the impact of historical processes and popular events on learning and identity formation. In 2007 I participated in the Chile Summer abroad program with Stephanie Spacciante, which provided me with yet another opportunity to experience first-hand how modern day economic imperialisms in Latin America affect social relations.

After graduating in 2008, I moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, for a year to teach English and also travel the region. The latter along with increasing opportunities to volunteer both in Peru with the Afro-Peruvian community and here in Vancouver with the Latino community, helped me to realize that all of my career and life goals continued to be shaped by Latin America and its peoples. Currently, I am completing my MA in Society, Culture and Politics in Education within the UBC Department of Educational Studies where I am using my background in Latin American Studies to create a niche for myself and develop my community interests. My research focus areas are: Afro-Peruvian education development initiatives, social movement learning, and Latin American diaspora youth studies. By combining my LAS background with an education framework, I have gained the wonderful opportunity to work with a dynamic group of Latin youth in Vancouver with whom I am partnering to develop a grassroots mentorship program that will create a bridge between Hispanic youth and UBC. In the following year, I will also be travelling to Peru to conduct comparative research on State and Afro-Peruvian education initiatives. LAS was a place for me to find my Latina voice, explore Latin diversity and dare to address contested issues such as race and politics. I look forward with excitement to the various ways in which the LAS Program continues to grow (wishing I could be a part of it once again!). Gracias LAS!

Sonia Medel (MA Student)
SCPE, UBC Dept. of Educational Studies

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Arts
Latin American Studies
University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada

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