How did the Latin American and
Latino Studies Program impact your educational experience at DePaul?
I liked a lot of subjects going into Depaul and
the Latin American and Latino Studies Program helped focus those interests. I
knew that I liked Anthropology and History but thise subjects are both
incredibly vast. LST provided me with structure for my studies. My LST advisor
helped me select classes that would satisfy multiple requirements for my majors
as well as my interests. For example, I did a short-term study abroad in El
Salvador and was able to have all of the course count towards some part of my
degree. That study abroad also peaked my interest in the role of governments in
our lives. In the end, I double majored in LST and Anthropology and had taken
enough courses for a double minor in Spanish and History. I know that wouldn't
have been possible if I had approached each major and minor separately.
What are some of your
major accomplishments since graduation?
After graduating from DePaul, I joined Teach For America is Las Vegas and
taught kindergarten. Vegas had a very large and very diverse Latino population
and my classroom reflected that. I felt like LST helped me better understand
other Latinos and relate to my families. During this time, I also received my
Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of
Nevada, Las Vegas. Teaching furthered my interest in the government and public
policy. After I finished my commitment, I decided to go to grad school
(again) and received Master's of Public Policy from the Harris School at the
University of Chicago. I used the same approach I learned in LST to grad school
and found ways to incorporate education and cultural issues into my policy
studies. I also use this tactic in my professional life since I work on a
variety of issues. Currently, I'm on the Board of Directors for a non-profit
Child Development Center and I'm a math tutor at a local public school.
What are you doing now?
I'm a Senior Analyst at the Government Accountability Office in our Forensic
Audits and Investigative Service division. With my team, I identify fraud
risks in government programs such as Medicaid and help ensure that government
programs are working for those that need them most. Ultimately, we
produce reports with recommendation to the audited agencies aimed at improving
the programs. To do these reports, we conduct an extensive and critical review
of agency policies and documents; interview officials and third-parties,
when appropriate; and perform data analysis such as data mining. It's a lot
like writing a really involved term paper.
I'm a firm believer that our government should look like the people it
governs and sadly this isn't the case. Our agency is fairly diverse but I still
end up being the only Latina in the room more times than not. I feel that it's
essential for different perspectives to represented in government programs. I
try my best to add that voice in our fraud discussions.
Do you have any advice for
current and prospective LST students?
Use LST as guide for branching out in your studies. You'll be surprised how
well your interests or a major in LST can fit into other disciplines. Almost
every class will have some kind of self-directed project or paper and there's
nothing stopping you from picking an LST-related topic. So take a statistics
course or an economics course and relate it back to your interests in LST.
College is all about learning critical thinking skills and being able to convey
what you've done to others verbally and in writing. These skills are essential
in your future career, so learn them in a subject area you're passionate about.