Senior Portfolios

Each year, senior Spanish majors at Amherst compile a portfolio of their coursework and reflect on their trajectory through the major. We invite you to explore this collection of Spanish Department Senior Portfolios, organized by graduating class year.

Sika Essegbey '23

Ella Rose '23

Camilo Toruño '21

Fulbrights Awarded to Sika Essegbey '23, Ella Rose '23 and Camilo Toruño '21

Sika Essegbey '23, Ella Rose '23 and Camilo Toruño '21 have been awarded Fulbrights for the 2022-23 cycle. Essegbey will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Colombia, Rosa has won a Fulbright for research in Chile and Toruño's Fulbright Graduate Study Award will support his work toward a master's degree in Migration Studies at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.

Essegbey, a Class of 2023 Spanish and Black Studies double major, will be collaborating with a lead instructor to support university students in their English learning in Colombia. Some of her responsibilities for this role include formulating lesson plans and activities to support academic instruction while also facilitating cultural exchange. In addition to her work inside the classroom, Essegbey will be volunteering with a local education nonprofit to tutor secondary school students as part of her social project. Because she wasn’t able to study abroad, Essegbey writes that she is "beyond excited to have this opportunity to immerse myself in Colombian culture and continue my journey as a Spanish learner."

A Spanish and Biology double major, Ella Rose will be working with an affiliate at Universidad de Concepción in Concepción, Chile. They will be studying blue whales in the wild, and then incorporating them into a biological model that the affiliate developed of an area with threatened fish populations. Ella's goal is to assess whether blue whale population numbers can be indicators of imminent declines in these fish populations.

After graduating from Amherst in 2021 with a Spanish and English double major, Toruño has worked in New York City as a bilingual paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) in the Tenants' Rights Unit. While at NYLAG, he has assisted tenants facing eviction, many of whom are Spanish speaking immigrants, and learned about housing rights in New York City. This direct client work drew parallels with Toruño's undergraduate research for the Spanish major on asylum narratives and volunteer work with pro se asylum applicants and the border rights organization Al Otro Lado. The desire to bridge the gap between client facing work and academia motivated Toruño to apply for a Graduate Study Award with the Fulbright Program. Next year, with this award, Toruño will be attending the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City to begin a Migration Studies master degree.

Hubert Ford '20

Hugh Ford '20 is no stranger to international exchange. As a high school student, he volunteered in Guatemala. As an Amherst College student, he studied abroad in Uruguay. For the past year, he's  been teaching high school students in Spain. Yearning for yet another way to use his Spanish (Hugh double majored in math and Spanish) and teaching chops, he applied to be an English Teaching Assistant with The Fulbright Program.  See more about Hugh here.

Gina Isabel Rodriguez '10

Congratulations to Spanish Major Alum Gina Isabel Rodriguez '10, who was recently selected as a LitUp Fellow for @ReesesBookClub!  A writer and daughter of Chilean immigrants, Gina will join the fellowship's inaugural class.

2nd Annual Spanish Major Alumni event

On October 21, 2021, the Spanish department hosted the 2nd Annual Spanish Major Alumni event. Current Amherst students studying Spanish and Spanish major alumni met in Zoom breakout rooms organized by specific fields: medicine, law, education, and non-profit. During this event, alumni shared helpful advice with students on how to apply to graduate school, look for a job, travel abroad, and other tips about navigating life after Amherst. 

The event was a huge success - with 27 students and alumni in attendance. It was wonderful to reconnect with alumni.
Thank you to all our alumni who helped make this event possible!
Adriel Roncal (2021)
Rebecca Davis (2020)
Erika DeAngelis (2019)
Jamie Gracie (2017)
Kim Greenberg (2017)
Ben Greene (2018)
Dana Kulma (2020)
Aly Levinson (2019)

First Annual Spanish Major Alumni Networking Meet-up

On April 15, 2021, forty-five current Amherst students studying Spanish and Spanish major alumni met on Zoom for the first virtual networking meeting organized by the Spanish Department. After brief introductions, students joined breakout rooms designated to specific fields: medicine, law, education, travel and work abroad, finance, and non-profit. In these meetings, alumni shared helpful advice with students on how to apply to graduate school, look for a job, travel and work abroad, search for housing, and other tips on navigating life after Amherst.

Muchísimas gracias to all the alums who helped make this event possible: Hugh Ford ’20, Jamie Gracie ’17, Kim Greenberg ’17, Benjamin Greene ’18, Christina Herrero ’13, Constance Holden ’15, Leah Kim ’19, Caroline Magee ‘17E, Flavia Martínez ’18, Molly Pines ’19, Nicholas Schcolnik ’14 and Irma Zamora ’17.

Please keep us updated and stay connected! You can follow us on Instagram at @amherstmamuts.

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 '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.