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Students

María Cristina Fernández Escobar

María Cristina was born and raised in Guatemala City to a Guatemalan mother and a Cuban father. After spending a year between high school and college to give classes to Q’eqchi’ girls in Petén, Guatemala, she started the Anthropology program at la Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. After her first year of college, she had to flee the country with her family due to threats against her mother who denounced a case of corruption.

María Cristina continued her education at the night school of Boston College where she got a BA in Sociology. During her time there she worked as a research assistant at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice (CHRIJ) working on projects with surviving communities of ithe genocide in Guatemala. While at BC, she also worked full time as a Housing Advocate at HomeStart, obtaining permanent housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness in Boston.

At her time at Stanford, María Cristina will focus on the decolonization of education in rural Central América, studying models of education that are built by and for indigenous communities with a focus on ancestral knowledge, their cultural practices, and history. She wants to understand the relationship between alternative education, community autonomy, and self-sustainability so that emigration and acquiescence to the capitalist market stop being necessary for economic survival. Her research will also do a deep exploration of what it means for her as a white mestiza from the city to be invested in contributing to the decolonization of indigenous education.

David Addison Harrison

Born and raised outside of Philadelphia, PA, David graduated from Tufts University in 2017 where he double majored in Economics and International Relations with a focus on Latin America. At Tufts, he combined interests in language and cultural studies with international trade and economic development. Since graduation, David has worked as a management consultant and developer at Booz Allen Hamilton. His work centered on the commercial energy sector – primarily with projects based in Latin America, where he witnessed both the benefits and repercussions of massive investments in energy infrastructure. While working with teams across Latin America, David became interested in building a deeper understanding of regional geopolitics, environmental issues, and renewable energy investment through graduate study. This project work instilled an interest in Brazilian culture and history, and he recently completed a six-week Portuguese immersion program through Middlebury Language Schools.

While at Stanford, David plans to pursue his MA in Latin American Studies as part of a dual degree MBA with the Graduate School of Business. Through pairing these two programs, David plans to focus his research on environmental issues and the influence of foreign investment on Latin American politics and economic development, while building the entrepreneurial skill sets to implement novel solutions in the region through sustainable business practices. He also plans to apply his background as a developer to research that integrates computer science with the humanities.

In his free time, David enjoys hiking, skiing, soccer, and woodworking and recently picked up surfing.

ADVISOR: Mikael Wolfe

Kim Juárez Jensen

Born in metropolitan Monterrey, México, and raised in rural Denmark, contrasts and comparisons have always shaped Kim’s personal and academic paths. He earned his B.A. in Political Science in 2020 from the University of Copenhagen with studies abroad in both the US and the UK. Kim earned his B.A. on a thesis titled ‘Farewell Trust? Insights from a Natural Experiment’. The thesis investigates the effects of a real-world corruption scandal on Danish citizen’s levels of institutional trust.

Governance and anti-corruption have not only been at the center of Kim’s academic work but also in his professional life. Kim has worked with anti-corruption and development at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department for Humanitarian Aid, Migration and Civil Society, and in the Danish chapter of Transparency International.

As an M.A. Student at CLAS, Kim hopes to specialize in political economy and expand his line of research on governance, institution building, and anti-corruption efforts to a Latin American context. Kim is also excited about the prospect of learning Portuguese and strolling around Stanford’s beautiful campus.

Raymundo Lopez

Raymundo is a recent college graduate from Sonoma State University, where he double majored in political science and French; with distinction. As an undergraduate researcher, he conducted an empirical study on the effects of racial priming of U.S. Latinx candidates at Michigan State University, and advocated for victims of unlawful incarceration and political intimidation at the Center for Civil and Political Rights. Further, he has served as an intern for both Human Rights First and at the International Rescue Committee, where he assisted in pro bono asylum cases and mentored refugees from Latin America.

In his decision to attend Stanford’s Latin American Studies program, Lopez cited his desire to further contextualize his interests in elections, public opinion, race and ethnicity and methodology—through a Latin American lens. For instance, his senior capstone project, titled “Four Million and Forgotten: A Critical Race Theory Approach to Voting Rights in U.S. Territories,” posits U.S. Federalism as a critical agent in influencing matters of extra-territorial voting, fiscal policy, and racial/geographic identity in the Caribbean/Latin America (e.g. Puerto Rico). As such, Lopez hopes to ground himself in the historical roots of U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America, the rule of law, and regulation to further refine his research.

Upon graduation, Lopez plans to pursue a doctorate in political science and, ultimately, become a professor. Lopez is a product of the foster care system, and holds paternal lineage from Guatemala and maternal linage from Mexico. You can spot him at rustic holes-in-the-wall and reading speculative fiction.

ADVISOR: Professor Alberto Díaz-Cayeros

Maria Fernanda López Rosas

María Fernanda was born and raised in an indigenous community in the isthmus of Oaxaca until her family migrated to rural Texas in 2006. She earned her BA in Psychology at Stanford University in 2020 and has focused her research on indigenous teacher protests in Oaxaca, Mexico, exploring the relationship between systemic education and indigenous cultures in Mexico. At Stanford, she followed her interest in English Language Learning by teaching and mentoring immigrant, low-income students in California, relying on her academic background and her personal experience.

María Fernanda is passionate about immigrant student’s access to education and has worked for multiple nonprofits that focus on first generation, low-income and immigrant students throughout her undergraduate career. She hopes to continue her research in indigenous education reforms in Oaxaca, to master the Portuguese language, and to continue learning how indigenous cultures in Latin America can thrive while participating in systemic education.

Ultimately, María Fernanda plans to combine her interests in education, first-generation, low-income students, and Latin America to further advocate for indigenous access to equitable education.

ADVISOR: Asad L. Asad

Iris Osorio-Villatoro

Iris Osorio-Villatoro was born and raised in southern California as a child of Salvadoran immigrants. She completed her undergraduate career at Stanford University with a major in Urban Studies and two minors in Psychology and Translation Studies. For her capstone project, she focused on analyzing women’s activism during the Salvadoran Civil War, attempting to highlight both the importance of testimonios as a way of understanding Latin American history and the role gender played in this context. Iris is passionate about immigrants’ rights, and has volunteered with multiple nonprofits that work to help provide translation services for immigrants detained at the border.

In summer 2020, she learned K’iche’ through the Mayan Language Institute, and hopes to continue studying the language while also enrolling in Nahuatl. She is also passionate about indigenous language revitalization in Central America and language access for indigenous immigrants in the United States. She hopes to continue finding ways to work on this issue alongside indigenous communities.

Iris plans to combine her interests in urban studies and language revitalization by continuing research on the history of nameplaces in Central America, highlighting the indigenous languages that have come to influence Central American geography as we know it today, and what nameplaces can tell us about power within a society.

ADVISOR: Nicole Hughes

Nathan Santos

Nathan graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2020 with a B.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. As a dual citizen of Brazil and the United States, Nathan's interests lie in the intersection of popular culture and the emergence of global colonialism during the early modern period. In 2017 and 2018 he studied at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), where he began to connect the issue of endemic social inequality in postcolonial nations to questions of rampant urbanization and spatial justice. This was followed by an internship at the Mumbai-based startup X-Billion Labs where Nathan was able to apply his experience with agent-based pedagogy in inner-city American schools to a South Asian context. He has traveled to Kenya to learn about interfaith cooperation and has studied international law in Spain and France, where he co-drafted a proposal to the European Commission for an online database of practical legal information for Syrian refugees.

As an undergraduate, Nathan held numerous leadership positions and published in peer-reviewed undergraduate journals such as Portales. Currently, he works for the World Aral Region Charity as Director of the New Arts Initiative, through which he went to Uzbekistan in 2019 to spearhead an ecology education program. Nathan has also recently completed a research project with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on migration, gang violence, and the democratic rule of law in Honduras.

At Stanford, he will focus on the assimilation of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Brazil and hopes to continue his independent research on the role of saudade in the literary construction of Lusophone from the perspective of the subaltern. In his spare time he dances with Ballet Folklórico de Revolución, a traditional Mexican ensemble committed to raising awareness of border violence.­­­­

ADVISOR: Vincent Barletta

 

Hannah Smith

Hannah hails from occupied Piscataway land (Rockville, MD). She graduated from Stanford University in 2020 with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Human Rights. Her coursework and praxis focused on grassroots resistance to government-perpetrated human rights abuses. In particular, Hannah studies the historical and current damage of US imperial colonialism in Latin America, in recognition of her positionality as a white estadounidense.

Though messy, she hopes to work alongside local activists facing threat from US entities. Her journey of learned allyship has brought her as far as the Villa Grimaldi museum and peace park in Santiago, Chile where she translated testimonies of Operation Condor torture victims and the Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes del Estado in Bogotá, Colombia where she prepared a submission to the truth commission. It has also brought her closer to home. With Students for Workers Rights right here at Stanford, she continually pushes the Stanford administration to improve labor conditions for service workers. For the past two years Hannah also wrote alongside SLS students to continue border-related immigration work she started in Tijuana.

As an M.A. student, Hannah is hoping to continue decolonizing her knowledge base and advocacy, especially through exploration of indigenous models of resistance. In her free time, Hannah loves hiking, cooking, baking bread, and reading narrative fiction.

ADVISOR: Héctor Hoyos