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Graduate Students

  • Kayla J. Aceves

    Kayla J. Aceves

    I am a Chicanx first-gen student from Calexico, a small town that borders Mexicali, Baja California. My experiences growing up in a border town have shaped most (if not all) of my research interests. My B.A. is in philosophy with a minor in bioethics. After working at a fertility clinic as a case manager for surrogate mothers, who were mostly women from Mexico and Central America, I became more interested in migration and how it affects motherhood and family here on the US-Mexico border. 

     Research Interest: Mexican philosophy, critical philosophy of race, Marxist theory, Latinx & Feminist Epistemologies, US-Mexico Border Migration and Mass Detention, Love and Aesthetics (especially film).

    Hometown: Calexico, CA


  • Erick Calderon

    Erick Calderon

    I recently graduated from Brigham Young University where I double majored in Latin American Studies and Sociology. I fell in love with the interdisciplinary approach of LAS because I was able to learn about this beautiful region through different lenses. Today I am studying how the Latin American diaspora in the US creates and magnify their identity through sports. 

    Research Interest: Immigration, Self-identity, Fandom, Sports, Modern Latin American History.

    Hometown: Santa Ana, CA


  • Ashley R. Casarez

    Ashley R. Casarez

    Ashley Casarez is a second-year graduate student in the LAS program. She achieved her B.A. in Mexican American Studies from the University of Arizona. Much of Ashley’s identity as a Chicana, 1st generation college student, and educator influences her research and community engagement. She looks to see how the Community Cultural Wealth framework can support Latinx/Chicanx students in navigating their cultural capital within educational spaces, especially college bridge programs.

    Research InterestCommunity engagement/involvement, Chicana (feminist) epistemologies, higher education, culturally relevant pedagogy/practice, student activism.

    Hometown: Tucson, Arizona


  • Marina Martins Chebly

    Marina Martins Chebly

    Marina achieved a double major in Social Sciences and Sociology teaching, both from UFMG. She has a MA degree in Political Science at UFSC. Has experience designing surveys, structuring and analyzing social data, and coordinating fieldwork. Participated in research groups focused on Political Behavior, taught sociology to high school students, and was a monitor for undergraduate students for the Compared Political Institutions course at UFMG. Her thesis is about Executive orders and subnational bargains. Is a specialist in quantitative methodology and political institutions.

    Research InterestElectoral behavior in Latin America, parochialism, presidential particularism and, procedural orders.

    Hometown: Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brasil


  • Juliana Diaz

    Juliana Diaz

    Juliana is a graduate student in the Latin American Studies program with a concentration in International Migration.

    Prior to pursuing my graduate studies in San Diego, I graduated from the University of Southern California with my Bachelors in Sociology (minor in Spanish). As an undergraduate, I came across a Sociology course in my second year that focused on the Mexican immigrant experience, in which our discussions focused on examining the effects of global inequality, as well as legal status, language, and gender (among additional factors) that serve in distinguishing the experiences of Mexican immigrant populations in the U.S. Here, it was made privy to me to the possibility of pursuing studies centered on migration & immigration. This newfound revelation provided the impetus and encouragement that led me to Oaxaca, México in my third year to participate in a study abroad program focused on migration (both from and through México), borders (U.S-México/México-Guatemala), and transnational communities.

    These experiences, along with my identity as a first-generation college student whose family's story is shaped by migration and immigration, have had a nuanced impact on my personal and academic interests.

    Research Interests:  International Migration, Transnational Identities, Transborder Mobility, U.S-México Border, Transfronterizx community (in the Tijuana/San Diego Region), Social Networks, Latin America

    Hometown: Santa Ana, California 


  • Ricardo Favela

    Ricardo Favela

    Ricardo was born and raised in San Diego's North County in the town of Fallbrook during the time when this community was the epicenter of hate and white supremacy in the state.  From an early age, Ricardo became involved in social and racial justice issues affecting the Mexican community and witnessed historic events that arose from social conflict in the area.  In 2020, Ricardo was part of a slate of Latino and Latina candidates who won seats on governing boards in Fallbrook, breaking a long-standing history of all-white governance in the town. He serves as the Trustee for area 3 for the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District.

    Research Interest: Ricardo is interested in researching the presence and history of Mexican people in San Diego's North County, the link between the Battle of San Pasqual and the popularization of 5 de Mayo in California, and how a people's history can be ignored or deliberately forgotten, but never erased.  Additionally, Ricardo is interested in researching the history and presence of the Ku Klux Klan in the area and how the Mexican community responded to a culture of hate and violence.

    Hometown: Fallbrook, California


  • Michael Ferrari

    Michael Ferrari

    Michael is completing his MA in Latin American Studies at UC San Diego. Prior to UC San Diego, Michael earned his undergraduate degree from CSU Northridge and an MBA from Pepperdine University. He is currently researching exchange rate preferences and the impact of globalization on agricultural producers in Brazil.

    Research Interest: Political Economy, Impacts of Globalization, Developmental Economics.

    Hometown: Newbury Park, CA


  • Kathryn Garcia

    Kathryn Garcia

    Kathryn Garcia is a first year Master's student in the LAS program. Growing up nearly 15 minutes from México in San Diego, California, the US-México Border had a lasting impact on her studies and passion for social justice. She participated in the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates on Immigration and Border Communities in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, conducted fieldwork with the Undocumented Migration Project, studied abroad at Universidad de Las Américas Puebla in Puebla, México, and continues to volunteer in migrant shelters in San Diego. Kathryn received her BA in Cultural Anthropology from Northeastern University where her final capstone focused on the "legal violence" of the Remain in Mexico program. 

    Research Interest: Immigration, US-Mexico Border, Participatory Action Research, Community Organizations, Liminality, Cultural Anthropology, Structural and Symbolic Violence 

    Hometown: San Diego, California 


  • Nelly Gomez

    Nelly Gomez

    Research Interest:  International Migration, Latin American Diaspora, and History.

    Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina


  • Amci Hernandez

    Amci Hernandez

    Amci is a first-generation student, born and raised in San Diego in the neighborhood of Barrio Logan. She obtained her B.A. in Sociology with a concentration in Social Inequality at the University of California San Diego. 

    Research Interest: Feminism, Gender, Sexuality and Motherhood. Cultural Traditions, Critical Theory, Settler Colonialism, Indigenous Spirituality Practices; Interdisciplinary Studies, Mexican History, Oral History.  

    Hometown: San Diego, California 


  • Areli Hernandez

    Areli Hernandez

    Arelí is a first-generation student from Napa Valley, CA. She earned her BA from Santa Clara University with majors in Ethnic Studies, Spanish and Political Science. 

    Research Interests: Critical Marxisms, Decolonial Critiques of Marxisms, Race and Racialization in Political Economy, Decolonial Theory, Critical Gender & Sexuality Studies, Racial Capitalism, Cultural Studies.

    Hometown: Napa Valley, CA


  • Thomas Maggiola

    Thomas Maggiola

    Thomas is a second-year MA student concentrating in history. Before coming to San Diego, he completed his BA in International Relations and Latin American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, he is researching the role of transnational linkages in the Guatemalan Civil War for his thesis. In the thesis, he focuses on ideological formation, solidarity networks, and refugee politics.

    Research Interest: Guatemalan Civil War, Refugees, Transnational History, Intellectual History, Cold War, International Organizations, Solidarity Networks, South-South Relations, Oral History.

    Hometown: Roswell, Georgia


  • Michelle Aidee Mariscal

    Michelle Aidee Mariscal

    Aidee is a third year in the Latin American Studies MA program. They received their BAs in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Latin American Studies from UC Riverside. They wrote their undergraduate thesis on alcoholism in Latinx families and are currently doing research on documentaries released during the "post" dictatorship era of Chile and Argentina. 

    Research Interest: Transgenerational trauma in the southern cone, the documentary genre as a keeper of memory, the revolutionary family.

    Hometown: Chula Vista, CA


  • Jovana Martin

    Jovana Martin

    Research InterestMigration within Latin America, U.S. and Mexico border cities and transfronterizxs, Asylum seekers and refugee populations, Latin American journalism

    Hometown: Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico


  • Shane Salomon Prince

    Shane Salomon Prince

    Shane is a second-year graduate student at University of California, San Diego. He graduated top of his class from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago with a BA in Latin American Studies and Spanish, First Class Honours. At UC San Diego, he continues to pursue his interests in Latin America as a master’s student in the Latin American Studies Program. His area of concentration is in sociology where he focuses primarily on how small, developing states navigate both sudden and chronic issues of immigration.

    Research InterestThe Latin American Dictator novel, Migration Sociology, Small State Immigration Policy, Deportation as anti-non-refoulement, and the Venezuelan Migrant Crisis. 

    Hometown: Cocorite, St James, Trinidad and Tobago 


  • Lucas Taglia

    Lucas Taglia

    Lucas is a first year graduate student in the LAS program. He earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, having studied Political Science and Spanish. He grew up in Madison, WI, and has lived and studied in Buenos Aires (2016-2017) and Milwaukee (2018-2022).

    Research Interest: Politics, society, history, Southern Cone, 20th Century, Cold War, political identity, international relations, race and ethnicity, cultural anthropology, authoritarian regimes. 

    Hometown: Madison, WI


  • Karen Fabiola Valerio

    Karen Fabiola Valerio

    Research Interest:  Decolonial Restorative Literature, Migration and Dislocation, Afro-Carribean Diaspora, Critical Race Theory, Post-colonial Feminism. 

    Hometown: Newark, New Jersey and Nagua, Dominican Republic


  • Eden Wiggins

    Eden Wiggins

    Eden Wiggins is a first-year student in the MA Latin American studies program. Eden grew up in Joppa, Maryland, and was privy to diverse influences from migrants from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. She graduated from the Illustrious Claflin University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. Eden is a lover of people, and culture and global diversity has always been a value that has been instilled in her since childhood. Eden’s interests are multidisciplinary and all driven by her love of learning and advocacy. Eden is also a performer who enjoys acting and singing.

    Research InterestMigration, Race/Ethnicity in Latin America, Educational Attainment Gaps, Intersection of the Latin and Black Diasporas.

    Hometown: Joppa, MD