LALACS RESEARCH: Meet our Seniors and their Projects

Posted on May 2nd, 2019 by

Maripaz Álvarez-Tostado González-Méndez

Socio-Political and Cultural Relations (Political Science, Anthropology, Communication Studies, Peace Studies)

What is your capstone project about? This project studies the systematic relationships that exist between multinational corporations, international financial institutions, regional foreign policies, and indigenous communities in Latin America. It analyzes these relationships through specific practices and policies based on a neoliberal approach, and the effect these have on Latin American indigenous communities found in a context of socio-economic inequalities.

Why did you choose this topic?  Without initially noticing, this topic has been following me throughout my academic experiences at Gustavus, yet it has its roots on my personal background as someone coming from Mexico. From my first year in Political Science classes, to courses in Economics, and Anthropology as an upperclassmen, I have learned to see this situation as a system of interrelated factors between the political, social, economic and cultural spheres, increasing my interest and dedication towards it. I chose this topic because it allows me to mix my personal background and passion for intersectional conflicts, and the knowledge I’ve gained at Gustavus into something that has and continues to impact communities at home.

What is the most exciting aspect of your capstone project? I have a passion for understanding the different needs and interests in play within a conflict. Having been born and raised in Cancun, Mexico, I have experienced and seen first-hand the rapid changes that local communities have experienced as foreign corporations and institutions enter the country. I have seen how factors like corruption and domestic accountability measures can influence the positive or negative repercussions of foreign projects in national territories, and have particularly seen the vulnerability of indigenous communities to negative impacts due to economic, cultural and social inequalities. This project is exciting because I can really explore a topic that I am passionate about in depths deeper than I originally expected. It is something close to home, and an issue I’d like to address through my career path after graduation.

As a senior about to graduate, what 10 words would you use to describe the LALACS program?  Interdisciplinary, flexible, Adaptable, rigorous, impactful, thought-provoking, resourceful, interesting, professional, well-rounded

Meghan Gallagher

LALACS majors; Spanish minor.

What is your capstone project about? My capstone project focuses on Eva Perón and her contributions to the country of Argentina. I am writing about Eva and Juan Perón as feminists in the 1940s and 1950s and describing how they helped advance women’s political and social rights. I am planning on presenting about Eva’s social movements working together with Juan Perón’s political plans and aspirations during this time frame.

Why did you choose this topic?  Ever since my high school did a production of Evita in 2014, I have been fascinated by Eva Perón and her legacy. I knew I wanted to focus on a female leader in Central or South America, and Evita stood out because she did not come from wealth or an upper-class family. Juan and Eva Perón made an incredibly powerful duo in a time where women were expected to be quiet and not participate in political or social movements.

What is the most exciting aspect of your capstone project?  The most exciting part of the project is the connection I can see between Argentina in the 1950s and feminist movements of today, in 2019.  Eva Perón actively helped minorities, especially women, who were struggling to gain certain rights, like the right to vote. The work she did was not passive but involved knowing and engaging with her community in Buenos Aires. Her influence has lasted much longer than her lifetime and recognizing her legacy and being able to learn more about this topic is an amazing opportunity.

As a senior about to graduate, what 10 words would you use to describe the LALACS program?

  1. Unique
  2. Engaging
  3. Interesting
  4. Informative
  5. Culturally diverse and different
  6. Eye-opening
  7. Multi-faceted
  8. Amazing…amazing opportunities, professors, and topics
  9. Underrated
  10. IMPORTANT/NECESSARY! It is important to learn another language and understand other cultures. The connections between people, countries and regions…Every place and person has a story, and LALACS has helped me to see the world from a broader and more informed perspective.

Brian Alexander Mayén

Spanish, Political Science, and LALACS

What is your capstone project about?  My capstone project is a creative story, or a personal narrative of a woman from Guatemala who, given her economic struggles, make the most difficult decision of her life—to leave her home to go to the United States for the prosperity she so desires for not only herself but for her family she left behind. However, the real purpose of the story is to let the audience be aware of the real challenges and struggles that Latinos must endure in Latin America. Moreover, this narrative is a way of contradicting false notions expressed by the very president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, who seems to lack empathy and compassion for others who have lost everything to achieve their dreams.

Why did you choose this topic?  I chose this topic because I always knew I wanted to do something with immigration, and creating a story is one of the best ways to evoke a mix of emotions such as sadness, anger, joy, and not only a sense of failure but also a sense of gratitude. By reading the words of through the perspective or point of view of the protagonist, one will gain a better understanding of why some people leave their country of origin. I show my appreciation to the classes I took that have covered topics such as this one, as well as culture, literature, Latin American history, etcetera. What better time than to write about a migrant’s life than now?

What is the most exciting aspect of your capstone project?  I believe the most exciting aspect of my capstone is that it is a personal narrative rather than a research paper because I am given the opportunity to include personal stories from various members of my family to create one single, and equally as compelling, story. I write this story with emotion and in all seriousness because the issues present in today’s global age are tough to mention but need to be shared with those who cannot relate.

As a senior about to graduate, what 10 words would you use to describe the LALACS program?  Informative, meaningful, fortuitous, insightful, great professors, provocative, transcendent, thought-provoking, prodigious, and powerful.

Nicole Pfalz

Psychological Science and LALACS majors; Spanish minor.

What is your capstone project about?  My senior capstone project is on the psychological and sociocultural effects of sexual violence on the help-seeking behaviors of Latina migrants to the United States. While this project considers the long- and short-term psychological consequences of sexual violence, it also explores help-seeking behaviors and the effects of patriarchal institutions (trauma and the intersection of political and sexual violence, the Christian patriarchy and the manifestation of machismo, and gender-based violence as a result of gender roles).

Why did you choose this topic?  I chose this topic not only because I have previously researched the psychological impact of sexual violence in the lives of Latin American immigrants, but also due to the fact that my dream career is to harness both of my degrees as a means of helping Latina survivors of sexual violence receive the resources and consideration of which they are deserving following graduation this spring. In doing so, I hope to highlight the prejudices present upon this group in society, and work to correct the maladaptive processes of immigration in the United States, especially for women.

What is the most exciting aspect of your capstone project?  The most exciting aspect of my capstone project is being able to extensively research an interdisciplinary topic that I am passionate about. I have been able to collaborate not only with peers of diverse academic realms, but also with professors whose insights have provided me with thought-provoking perspectives that have helped me to enhance my work.

As a senior about to graduate, what 10 words would you use to describe the LALACS program?  Interdisciplinary, diverse, relevant, progressive, applicable, inspiring, innovative, engaging, thought-provoking, versatile.



To hear details on their findings, please join us on Tuesday, May 21st from 4:30-6:30PM in the Boardroom.  Refreshments will be served.





One Comment

  1. Angelique Dwyer says:

    ¡Muchísimas felicidades a todos! These projects sound very interesting. I am sorry to miss them!