Why LALACS? Notes from an Alumnus’ Perspective

Posted on October 19th, 2017 by

Written by: Bjorn Kjelstad’17 (LALACS / Spanish)

One of the first questions I received upon returning home for Thanksgiving and after having declared my LALACS and Spanish double major was, “What are you going to do with that?” The question, however, should be, what do you value about your major? What I have come to value about my decision to complete a degree in LALACS, is the interdisciplinary nature of the major. Coursework in Latin American history provided me with a base from which I was able to make sense of the region as a whole, while respecting each countries’ own developmental nuances. Latin American Culture was key in honing in my skills to communicate conscientiously and effectively within a Latin American Context. Latin American Politics proved to be essential in understanding current phenomena and issues facing the region. Finally, the use of Spanish to complement my studies was key in allowing me to attain a deeper meaning in all subjects where, in many cases, translation does not suffice. In essence, the major was not only indispensable in providing a blossoming Latinamericanist the tools necessary to better understand the region and its relationship to the rest of the world, but it was also key in helping me understand that current issues are interconnected and thus, require interdisciplinary solutions.

 

Within 12 hours of graduating this past May, I departed for Mexico to begin work as a Program Assistant with CiEE in Guanajuato. During my three months there, I developed, coordinated, and led a group of graduate students from Los Angeles on a 15-day program. Shortly after returning home from Guanajuato, I applied and was accepted into an internship program through the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington D.C. where I currently serve as a Research Associate. As an intern, I write, edit, and publish articles on a variety of current hemispheric issues. Next fall, I plan on applying to a dual Master’s program in Public Affairs and Latin American Studies at the University of Texas Austin.

 

Ultimately, I recommend any student who wishes to maximize their Liberal Arts potential, in terms of interdisciplinary learning, as well as learn about and appreciate a rich and diverse region to pursue a degree in LALACS. In addition, I believe that by pairing the LALACS major with Spanish gives students the linguistic, cultural, and problem-solving skills necessary to pursue bright careers in the public sector, private sector, international education, community-based NGOs/Non-profits, academia, and countless others.

 

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