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Matt Randolph '16

Matt is originally from the Baltimore, MND area and graduated from Amherst with a double major in History and Spanish. After graduating from Amherst, Matt spent two years in Oakland, California where he worked for Asylum Access, a human rights organization that helps refugees around the world. In the fall of 2019, Matt will return to the San Francisco Bay Area once again to pursue a PhD in History at Stanford University.

During his junior year at Amherst, Matt studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, where he completed an independent research project. Matt conducted interviews in Spanish with members of Santiago's immigrant community who hailed from the Dominican Republic and Haiti. His research explored the linguistic, social, and racial barriers experienced by these Caribbean migrants as they rebuilt their lives in Chile, a country that has surged as a destination for immigration in the Western hemisphere in recent years. Matt's investigations in Chile have deeply shaped his research interest in graduate school. At Stanford, he hopes to continue exploring questions of race, diaspora, travel and migration through the history of the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.


Matt continues to practice his Spanish by reading Latin American novels and keeping in touch with the friends he has made during his travels abroad. While he trains as a historian, Matt intends to use his Spanish to explore the archives of Latin American countries rather than rely on translations.

Sasha Savitsky

Sasha Savitsky '20

In the United States, immigrants are not guaranteed a lawyer in immigration courts. This means that everyday, immigrants are sent into court to face highly trained and well-educated government officials without a lawyer by their side. Immigrants, even children and the disabled, are often left with little hope for prevailing in their cases. Immigrant Defense Law Center (ImmDef) is a social justice law firm that positively impacts immigrants' ability to get a fair hearing and win immigration relief by ensuring that immigrants do not have to go into court alone. Immigrants with lawyers are five times more likely to prevail in their cases. This summer I had the unique opportunity to shadow a pro bono attorney and volunteer interpreter doing work for ImmDef in Los Angeles, California. The attorney and interpreter were working with a 15-year old boy from El Salvador named Javier Gonzalez who was petitioning for asylum in the
United States. Javier was petitioning for asylum because he feared being killed by the gangs he had refused to join if he returned to El Salvador. He was specifically targeted by gangs because he was Catholic, regularly attended church, and his family was known for resisting the gangs. Since Javier and his relatives, some of whom still lived in El Salvador, were primarily Spanish speaking, all of their declarations explaining why he needed to leave El Salvador had to be interpreted and translated into English. As a political science and Spanish double major, I found the work that went into building this Javier’s case to be incredibly interesting and meaningful. Organization like ImmDef need young people like us to get involved. They need people to join them and use our abilities and our voices to help them make a difference in the lives of people who have come to the United States seeking a new home and hopes of a better life. Javier’s case is now in order and is waiting to be heard by an immigration court. While he waits for his case to be heard, Javier is able to remain here in the United States where he is living with his father.

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Candy Martinez ’13

Candy Martinez, a doctoral candidate in Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz, has received a Fulbright grant to study how indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, define and cope with trauma.  Full article

 

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Richard Park '16

Since graduation, Richard has been busy travelling before starting work at LinkedIn in October. He was in Asia during the month of June, Europe in July, and now spending 6 weeks in Peru (specifically Cusco and Lima). Thanks to all the various events that the Spanish Department hosted, he has learned to speak the language freely and understand different dialects. Richard is currently using exclusively Spanish working on a hacienda in the village of Ttio for 3 weeks before working at an international hostel in the city of Cusco. He speaks Spanish with his mom all the time and plans on practicing it with fellow employees out in San Francisco. 

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Tatiana Hill '16

Since graduation, Tatiana has begun her academic career as a predoctoral VEST Fellow in the Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Sciences Ph.D. Program at the University Virginia Curry School of Education. Her intended specialization is centered on studying how the unique cognitive development and family interactions within the home of English Language Learners/immigrant students/multilingual students in general (primarily those with Spanish as a first language) contribute to school performance. Ideally, she wants to design programs and educational interventions that celebrate the cultural backgrounds and cognitive advantages of multilingual, multicultural students in order to facilitate learning for ELLs.

During Tatiana’s junior year in college, especially after studying in Barcelona and becoming more cognizant of her own development as a bilingual individual, she realized she wanted to incorporate her studies in Spanish into her vision of pursuing Psychology research. She became very introspective about her own process of acquiring a second language, which led to a desire to promote multilingualism in the United States and ease the transition of English Language Learners, especially first and second generation students, into an English education system.

Tatiana tries to practice Spanish and plans to use Spanish in her research conducting or coding interviews of English Language Learners and their families.

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Katherine Sisk '14

Katherine got the call from a federation representative in Puerto Rico a little while after graduating. For several weeks she trained with her brother, Forest Sisk '17, before heading off to Puerto Rico. When she arrived, she began training with the national team in Bayamón. Two representatives from the team were so generous and welcomed her into their home for the summer. After about a month of training, she was fortunate enough to be selected for the travel roster.  Her teammates speak in Spanish, and all the practices are conducted in Spanish as well. A lot of my teammates that she has met on the under-20 team joke that she has improved a lot. She owes a lot of that improvement to her time studying abroad in Sevilla and to her studies on campus. Though she has to say that Puerto Rican Spanish is really different, and by far her favorite.  She is currently with the team in Trinidad competing in the Caribbean Finals. While the team will not be advancing to the next round of World Cup qualifying, this has been a big step for women's soccer in Puerto Rico and she believes full-heartedly that this process of improvement will continue, and that Puerto Rico will send a team to the World Cup sooner than most people think.

Gina Rodriquez '10

After graduating from Amherst in 2010, Gina expanded on her Spanish and English double major by pursuing work in the literary and publishing industry, with an emphasis on world literature. She interned at PEN American Center and stayed on as a volunteer during the yearly World Voices Festival. She carried this interest into her later work for Farrar, Straus & Giroux, where she was a publicity/editorial intern before taking up the role of a contracts assistant. She truly enjoyed being at a publisher whose extensive backlist included works by paramount Chilean writers Pablo Neruda and Roberto Bolaño, and where she used her skills to read Spanish-language manuscripts and contracts (including the Chilean miners’!).

Gina’s parents are from Santiago, Chile, and her Amherst College thesis was a novel for the English Department that drew on family history, her experience studying abroad in Valparaíso, and her study with Professor Lucía Suárez of the relationship between the arts and historical memory. Inspired by the support she received from both departments, she pursued her writing by attending the NYU MFA program.

At NYU, Gina bridged the gap between fiction and poetry by co-curating the KGB Emerging Writers Reading Series—monthly readings involving NYU writers reading alongside established headliners—and serving as a Poetry Workshop Fellow at Goldwater Hospital—a weekly workshop with hospital residents. She graduated in 2013 and has since been working as an editorial assistant in NYU Law’s Office of Communications.

For the first time in her life, school is no longer on the horizon. After a packed three years, Gina has slowed down so she can have more idle time, which she finds is key to fueling her writing. Today, she is working on short stories, and is in pursuit of a storytelling voice that lives up to the resilience she has seen from writers around the world—an appreciation for historical trauma balanced with humor and gusto for life.