Monica Ayala-Talavera has focused her career on working towards data-driven solutions to real-world crime and violence problems, focusing on homicide deterrence and reduction as well as law enforcement practices in Mexico. She has tackled these issues from many different perspectives - from working for think tanks in the developing world to covering these topics as a journalist. Her areas of expertise are geospatial crime analysis, social crime prevention, police security strategy, applied investigation and public policy evaluation methods. She holds a Master’s degree in International Development from Lund University in Sweden where she specialized in spatial crime analysis methods, and she graduated from the University of Missouri in the U.S. where she obtained a Convergence Journalism Bachelor’s degree with a minor in Political Science. She is from Chihuahua, Mexico and grew up in the Metro Detroit Area. Monica is pursuing a Master’s in Latin American Studies to continue tackling the vast and complex insecurity crises facing Mexico and many other Latin American countries. Ultimately, Monica plans to pursue a law degree.
Born in El Salvador and raised in Virginia, Karen Cornejo Guillen’s bicultural background has fueled her curiosity about the world and in particular about Latin America. In the Spring of 2018, Karen graduated from Shenandoah University with degrees in political science, Spanish, and global studies. As an undergraduate, she had the unique opportunity to attend an Intensive Summer Study Program at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, where she sat in on Security Council and General Assembly meetings and met with UN practitioners from numerous areas of the UN system, including UN Women, UNICEF, UNHCR, and more.
While at Shenandoah, Karen’s curiosity about Latin America deepened both through academics and community involvement such as serving as a Spanish interpreter with local immigration attorneys, co-founding the university’s first Hispanic-oriented student organization-Estudiantes Unidos, and organizing community conversations on topics such as DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS). As a TPS recipient herself, the distinct challenges faced by immigrants in the United States is of particular concern personally and academically. In addition to migration, Karen’s intellectual curiosities include international humanitarian law, refugee law, and gender-based violence, specifically femicide and rape in the Latin American context. While at CLAS, she is excited to explore these topics, as well as the intersection between the trauma experienced among survivors of such violations and human rights law.
When Karen is not binge-watching documentaries, she loves baking, painting, trying new foods (especially sweets!), and collecting maps.
Marleny was born in rural Guatemala, during the height of its Civil War, and became an immigrant to the U.S. at the age of four, fleeing from genocide with her mother and siblings. She became the interpreter and translator for her family and local community at an early age, and has since obtained professional proficiency in American Sign Language and Portuguese. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a B.A. in humanities, where she focused on language acquisition, the documentation of indigenous languages, and trilingual (American Sign Language, English, and Spanish) Interpretation. She has collaborated with non-governmental organizations in Latin America and has conducted ethnographic research with indigenous communities, such as the Comcáac and Rarámuri peoples of Mexico, and several Mayan groups in Guatemala. Some of her research interests include language education for Indigenous and Deaf migrants, language renewal within immigrant communities living abroad, ethnomusicology, documentary film, migration and development studies, human rights, and Deaf and Sign Languages studies.
At Stanford, Marleny hopes to combine her multidisciplinary interests and conduct research with Latin American Deaf asylees, who are often of indigenous background, in order to study how well they integrate culturally and socioeconomically after receiving appropriate language classes. Marleny plans to eventually help found nonprofits that provide the best possible instruction to Deaf and Indigenous Peoples. During her free time, she enjoys hiking through desert canyons, traversing mountains and beach dunes, and dancing to salsa, samba, and funky beats.
Born and raised in the American South, Jasmín has come to call Norcross, Georgia home, a place where a vibrant immigrant community exists within the homogeneity of the greater state. They graduated from Stanford University in the spring of 2018 with degrees in Chicano/a-Latino/a Studies and Psychology. Jasmín's passion for immigrant rights and Latinx culture has driven them to intern at immigration non-profit organizations, study abroad in Santiago, Chile, learn Portuguese, and explore greater Latin America physically, academically, and creatively. Through the Latin American Studies program, they hope to expand their understanding of the immigration detention center industrial complex as well as the interaction between race, gender, class and immigration policies. In the future, Jasmín plans to pursue a career in law in an effort to democratize access to legal assistance. In their free time, they enjoy storytelling, writing and taking photographs.
Born in Waukegan, IL y con raíces en El Estado de México, my life has always straddled between borders and trying to make sense of my disposition. In efforts to understand my life, and that of my parents who sacrificed everything to be in this country, I studied Sociology during my undergraduate years at Stanford, learning about disparities in American cities, educational disenfranchisement, and changing immigration demographics. Along with this course of study, I pursued a double major in Chicanx-Latinx studies, learning more about Latinos within the U.S. context. All this said, I felt like there was a big part missing in my intellect: understanding Latin America. Despite my visits to Ecuador and Mexico, and seeing huge inequities there, I still didn't have the knowledge to understand why Latin America came to be what it is today. I am looking forward to finishing my Master's with the help of the CLAS staff and my cohort, and of course the support of friends and family, focusing on understanding colonialism through a transnational and generation migratory lens.
Christine graduated from the University of Virginia in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and Spanish. While at UVA, Christine worked as a computer science teaching assistant and volunteered to teach English to international students at the university as well as to students at a local high school. In addition, she enjoyed volunteering at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA and learning about other languages and cultures as a resident at Shea House-a language community at UVA. Christine also had the opportunity to study abroad in Valencia, Spain and Seoul, South Korea as an undergraduate. Her work experience includes conducting cybersecurity research through the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates Program and interning in the Information Systems Center at the United States Embassy in Mexico City. In her free time, Christine likes to read, watch movies, try new foods, and spend time with friends and family.
During her time at Stanford, Christine hopes to further improve her proficiency in Spanish and Portuguese and better her understanding of Latin America.
Lucia received her B.A. with honors from Stanford, double majoring in History and Iberian and Latin American Cultures. She focused her studies on 20th century U.S. history and post-1960s Latin American history and literature. Lucia’s academic interests include international human rights, transnational migration, and U.S.-Latin America relations.
While at Stanford, Lucia narrowed her interests in understanding how legal aid and policy work can best be directed in defense of minority communities in the U.S. and abroad. She has worked primarily with agencies geared at addressing education, health, and legal disparities in minority and low-income communities in the United States.
As a graduate student, Lucia will continue to expand her knowledge of Latin American history and politics, and looks forward to conducting more research on the underlying causes of violent crime and poverty in the United States and developing countries.