Alumni Stories

Alumni Story: Jessica Elfstrom ‘07

In 2008 I joined the U.S. Navy. Today I am a Lieutenant pursuing a master’s degree in Mexico. Upon entering Dartmouth I knew that I wanted to study in the LALACS department. Everything about Latin America intrigues me: the history, culture, politics, geography, and people. As an interdisciplinary program, I was able to satisfy my interest in all these areas. Additionally, with the flexibility of the D-plan and the encouragement of the LALACS department, I was able to spend three terms of my Dartmouth experience in Brazil.

Upon graduating from Dartmouth in 2007 my goal was to obtain a job with international scope. The Navy has provided me with great opportunities and training, I’ve visited and learned about many parts of the world, and now they have sent me to Mexico! In 2014 I was selected as an Olmsted Scholar – a program that provides unique leadership development for exceptional active duty military officers. Olmsted Scholars experience two years of immersion in a foreign country while pursuing graduate studies at a foreign university.

Alumni Story: Daniela Hernandez '15

Denise Hernandez '15Next year I will be returning to my hometown of San Antonio, Texas to participate as a corps member for Teach for America. There, I will be teaching bilingual elementary education. I chose to embark on this journey for several reasons. Firstly, I felt like my double major in Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies (LALACS) and Spanish Literature would grant me to the foundational tools to create a an inclusive bicultural classroom. Secondly, I felt greatly supported not only by the staff, recruiters, and the regional office in Teach for America, but also by my LALACS professors and chair here at Dartmouth! This wonderful group of individuals, friends and mentors were there to constantly encourage me and answer any questions throughout the process.

Alumni Story: Marene Jennings '98

I am currently a Vice President in the Asset Management business at Goldman Sachs. I have been at the firm for the last 11 years after receiving an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management several years after graduating from Dartmouth in 1998. I work with high net worth and institutional clients in the context of their equity and fixed income portfolios. Since joining Goldman, I have had the chance to work with Latin American clients from Mexico, Chile, El Salvador, Panama, Peru and Brazil. Since graduating from Dartmouth, I have traveled to over 10 Latin American and Caribbean countries including Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Jamaica, Belize, the Bahamas, and St. Lucia. 

My passion for Latin America and the Caribbean began as a young girl growing up in the Bronx but the LALACS Program really solidified my understanding of the region and has allowed me to both speak the language and fluidly relate to all of the various cultures.

Alumni Story: Louis W. Goodman '64

My Dartmouth Latin American Studies degree has been the foundation of my professional life for 5 decades. The mixture of humanities and social science gave me the basis for re-inventing my interests throughout my career. After leaving Dartmouth (where I spent a summer in a rural Mexican village, a semester studying in Lima Peru and a summer interning at the Inter American development Bank), I directly entered a PhD Program in Sociology where my dissertation work focussed on development in Latin America (a year living in Santiago, Chile) and I was also able to gain a foundation in economics.

Alumni Story: Unai Montes-Irueste '98

Upon graduation from Dartmouth, I worked for several years in the field of public education, before making the transition to electoral campaigns, legislative advocacy, and public engagement. My work in Latino Studies and Latin American and Caribbean Studies has served me well professionally, and proven to be of tremendous personal benefit as well. I would welcome the opportunity to speak with majors, minors, fellows, and graduate-degree pursuing scholars, about the past, present, and future of LALACS at the College.

Alumni Story: Negarra Kudumu '01

Negarra Kudumu '01 writes, "Since April of 2009 I have been living and working in the Netherlands at a research institute called HIIL (Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law). In a very basic way my LALACS major, coupled with studying Spanish and Portuguese, has equipped me with a broader tool kit for relating to and understanding the world. Because of LALACS's interdisciplinary nature, I often find myself drawing upon that knowledge base to see how well--or not--it applies to other historical and cultural concepts. 

"Professionally it has been the language skills I acquired in connection with my LALACS major that have served me best. I have had the opportunity in two professional roles to regularly use Spanish and Portuguese. Additionally, due to the strength of my Portuguese, even though its been eleven years since I first learned the language, I have been able with relative ease to learn French. It was via LALACS that my love for the languages of the region blossomed and this passion is what helped me to succeed in the study of these tongues which I still use to this very day."

Alumni Story: Lisa Caldeira '07

After graduating I got into the habit of uprooting my life every few years. After working as a development consultant for not for profits in New York City, I then spent two years in Mozambique as a organizational development adviser for local non-governmental agencies. Currently I live in Anchorage, Alaska and manage the largest homelessness shelter in the state. I would say that my LALACS degree oriented my life towards being able to better exam the social, political, and cultural currents of a community in order to work with them to create solutions for progress. Plus my ability to learn Portuguese while at Dartmouth sparked a curiosity with the Lusophone world.

Alumni Story: Francisco J. Herrera '13

My professors in the LALACS program always stressed the importance of asking better questions. They also encouraged me to be creative in how I set about answering them. Its been incredibly useful to keep in mind that sometimes the questions we ask, the things we worry about, the methods to our goals may be fundamentally disconnected to the reality we observe/experience. Its been useful in helping me make sense of the world around me as well as the work I that I do. Since graduating I have worked as an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Liaison for Latina/o Students. It's been wonderful to be able to bring these skills not only into navigating post-undergraduate life but also to share my passion for the subject matter(s) with my colleagues.