College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Latin American and Latino Studies > About > Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight

Marisa Castillo, Class of 2017 - Majored in Latin American and Latino Studies & Women's and Gender Studies

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Current Workplace/Internship/Fellowship/Other:
Math Fellow for SAGA Innovations where I tutor high school math to CPS students.

How did being an LALS Major impact your educational experience at DePaul? Why did you become a Major?: 
LALS impacted my educational experience at DePaul by exposing me to different histories that changed how I saw myself as a Mexican American. It really fueled my passion to helping others and to impacting communities that I felt reflected my values. I became a major because I loved the classes and professors that were in the program and I wanted to continue to learn more about myself through the major.

Edgar Flores, Class of 2017 - Majored in Latin American and Latino Studies & Political Science with a minor in Spanish

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Current Workplace/Internship/Fellowship/Other:
Analytic Linguist for MVM, Inc., I work analyzing Spanish documents, audio, and other forms of communication from different Spanish-speaking regions, and provide clean, concise translation into professional English for various law enforcement clients. My current workplace is in the downtown Chicago area, but I have also had the opportunity to travel to various cities within the midwest region of the United States.

How did LALS impact your educational experience at DePaul? Why did you become a major?: 
​I became a major because learning about my culture was important to me. I not only learned about what it means to be Latinx, but also how we are powerful people with a voice. I learned about a lot of important Latinx leaders who have inspired me to become a leader within the government in the near future.

What was your path to success and how do you utilize your LALS Major when job searching?: 
I made sure to make it a point that being an LALS major was an important time in my life because I learned a lot about who I was and am as a person. But most importantly, I learned how I can achieve my goals by not being afraid to step out of the box. I utilized my major in a way that made me marketable to employers, should they ask why I chose that major and to show them ​why it's important to learn about your culture.​

Katia Silva, Class of 2017 - Majored in Latin American and Latino Studies with a minor in Spanish

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Current Workplace/Internship/Fellowship/Other:
Director of Marketing & Development at non-profit Catholic School Our Lady of Tepeyac in Little Village.

How did LALS impact your educational experience at DePaul? Why did you become a major?: 
I feel that the LALS department helped create a space where the voices of the Latinx community mattered. It is a space where one can talk about their experiences, and know that others would understand and have similar experiences. Our issues are important. It's through LALS courses that they're discussed in the academic setting, raising awareness to what is going on in the Latinx community.

Do you have any advice for current/prospective LALS students?: 
Being in academia is hard, especially when you are one of the only Brown/Black/POC faces in the class. There is a lot of culture shock that happens, but taking LALS courses reminds you that there are more people like you on campus, and that you are not alone in this journey. Latinx being the largest group of people of color​ is really important to remember, because there are many people just like us on campus.

Jaime Ochoa, Class of 2014 - Majored in Latin American and Latino Studies & Political Science with a minor in Sociology

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Current Workplace/Internship/Fellowship/Other:
Law School Graduate preparing for the Illinois Bar Exam.

Advice for current/prospective Latin American & Latino Studies students: 
Never feel like it's too early or too late to connect with anyone in a field that catches your interest. Seek these individuals out by email or by phone and ask them for advice. One of the most important things in your life once you're in college is trying to find YOUR path. Find a mentor through our LALS alumni!​

Ruben Franco, Class of 2012 - Majored in Latin American and Latino Studies & Anthropology with a minor in Spanish

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Current Workplace/Internship/Fellowship/Other:
Administrative  Assistant at the Australian Consulate-General; on leave from PhD Program in Anthropology at The University of Wisconsin - Madison

Advice for current/prospective Latin American & Latino Studies students: 
I would say that the Social Sciences are a great way to formulate a worldview. Interdisciplinary programs like LALS will challenge you to view things from varying perspectives and help you develop a healthy skepticism to everything you consume. Keep pulling at those threads and question things when they don't seem right. ​

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Sarah Stoehr, Class of 2012 - Majored in Latin American and Latino Studies & Spanish

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Current Workplace/Internship/Fellowship/Other:
Teens of Promise (TOPS) Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County in Madison, WI. 

What was your path to success and how do you utilize your LALS Major when job searching?: 
Since graduating from DePaul, I have continuously utilized my experiences serving different Spanish-speaking communities in Chicago. Those experiences taught me how to work with people who look or think differently than me in a curious, respectful, and productive way. They have served me in every job I have had since graduating, and especially in the job I have had for the past 3 years as a coordinator for a college readiness partnership that works with a very diverse group of students. The skills I developed throughout my time with LALS have been invaluable.​​

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Jacquelyn Fernandez Leyva, Class of 2001 - Majored in Spanish with a minor in Latin American & Latino Studies

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Current Workplace/Internship/Fellowship/Other:
Senior Trial Attorney with the Vrdolyak Law Group 
I take cases to trial where individuals are being injured emotionally, mentally, or physically and have been denied being made whole.

What professional areas can students work in with LALS knowledge and experience?: 
​The knowledge and experience from the Latin American and Latino Studies program translates into anything and everything. It most obviously applies to careers in law, social justice, and academia. But beyond that, especially with recent legal changes being implemented, an understanding of people's journeys and plights brings a more profound awareness of who we are as a whole and it creates more well-rounded individuals for a society that, frankly, needs more of them. Those skills are desirable in every field.​​