Presenting Our 2014 Graduates
    • Angie Diaz
Angie Diaz

ANGIE DIAZ graduated in 2014 with the Certificate in Latino/a Studies in the Global South. Her senior honors thesis in the History Department was titled "Interstitial Resistance in the Role of Puchiquismo in (Re)Shaping Chicanidad in Houston," which earned her the Gilder-Lehrman History Scholar Award. This prize recognizes 15 top History students nationally. Angie plans to pursue a Ph.D. in American Studies, following a gap year that will include teaching English and American Culture in China and possibly working with Americorps.

What was your favorite Latino/a Studies course?
By far, my favorite course in the program has been the LSGS Capstone taught by Antonio Viego. Entitled “Back to the Latino/a Future,” the course was an interdisciplinary education on the structures that face Latinos/as in the United States. More than that, it instilled the question of how I could claim my ethnic identity as a point of resistance within this larger narrative. The five-person course became a community, one where we could discuss subtle, routine discrimination we’d all experienced and expand upon it within the context of neoliberalism, (critical) race theory, or whatever it was we were learning about that week. I constantly find myself returning to the lessons of this class, both academically and daily life.

How did your interest eventually evolve into a decision to pursue the certificate?
The first time I registered for classes, in the summer before my freshman year, I read the entire aces catalog. Glazing over the math sections, I spent days trying to map the perfect schedule. When I stumbled across “Intro to LSGS,”

I had no idea what Latino/a Studies or the Global South entailed, but the course seemed to address questions I had been struggling with (what seemed like) all my life. The course made me feel less isolated during my first semester away from home, while also introducing me to a language by which to negotiate being Latina, Chicana, Tejana etc. . . . at Duke. From the first course onward, I knew I wanted to complete the certificate.

How has Latino/a Studies changed and/or shaped your understanding of how society works?
Latino/a Studies has been my unpublicized movimiento, a means to grope for a self-regard that does yet exist. History is my journey to the future, a return to symbolic sites of Chicano/a pride and resistance. In these spaces, I learned that the conversations of home were infused with caló, the language of los pachucos. Participants and producers in the 1940s Mexican American youth subculture of pachuquismo, pachucos/as enacted a racial-ethnic identity of resistance beyond the scope of identity politics. Yet, the power of their struggle was lost to me until Duke. While Texas exposed me to erasure and exclusion, Latino/a Studies gave me a language in which to relay these experiences. Rather than wax nostalgic for an anti-identity politics, the LSGS certificate has empowered me to break the linear progression of thought associated with Latinos/as – all in the hope of fostering communities that encompass my identity as a Latina and Tejana, without containing them to mere terminology.


Rickelle (Ricki) Hernandez
    • Rickelle (Ricki) Hernandez

RICKELLE (RICKI) HERNANDEZ completed the Certificate in Latino/a Studies in the Global South in 2014. She shares with us her experiences at what is now her alma mater, highlighting why she was drawn to LSGS:

Entering college I knew I wanted to be a doctor, but I also knew that I did not want my studies at Duke to be 100% focused in the sciences. As a Latina, I was drawn to courses offered by the LSGS program. I was particularly interested in creating a new path that blended my pre-medical studies with Latino studies. However, Duke did not seem to offer any major that suited my goals. As I began taking LSGS classes I quickly realized that this was the program that would allow me to interweave all of my interests. My ultimate goal is to work as a physician in underserved Latino communities and I felt that the LSGS program offered the right courses and the right faculty to help me prepare for this.

Being a part of the LSGS program has been an enormous blessing in my life. I can honestly say that it has been the most enriching experience in my Duke career. This program has pushed me to grow in ways that I never imagined. My entire view of the world and the people in it has been transformed and enlightened throughout the last four years, and I am truly grateful for that.

A Duke University without the Latino Studies Program in the Global South is a Duke I do not want to imagine. The LSGS program is absolutely essential at this university in order to move forward and face the future with both eyes open. To future Duke students I must say that missing out on this program would be a lost opportunity!

I look forward to entering the next phase of my life with an enlightened, compassionate perspective that I am confident will be life-altering.


Kimberly (Kim) Higuera
    • Kimberly Higuera

KIMBERLY (KIM) HIGUERA, a Sociology major, graduated with two certificates: one in Latino/a Studies in the Global South and a second in Child Policy research.
How did your interest eventually evolve into a decision to pursue the certificate?
I first got interested in pursuing the Latino/a Studies Certificate when a student form the Latino/a Studies in the Global South came to my Spanish class to discuss what the program was, and how it was different from other certificate programs dealing with Latin American issues.

Unlike similar programs, the Latino/a Studies in the Global South Certificate dealt directly with the Latino persona and experience in the United States. Until I got to Duke, I never really had the chance to dive into this subject matter before. Though the term 'Latina' described me, I wasn’t sure what it meant, how it related it to me, or how it came to be. In part, I decided to pursue the certificate as an exploration of myself, but also because I finally had the opportunity to learn about Latinidad that I had never had elsewhere.

How has Latino/a Studies changed, or shaped your understanding of how society works?
Latino/a Studies has definitely taught me to see the world in a more holistic sense. It has also allowed me to see the interconnectedness of issues not only dealing with Latinos, but all kinds of issues. Both the introductory and capstone course for the certificate had an interdisciplinary approach that allowed me to extend my interest in Latino issues to my other academic interests. For example, I majored in Sociology with another certificate in public policy relating to children and families, in my Honors thesis now I work with all three of these subject matters. My thesis is in Sociology dealing with the experience of Latino and Asian child translators in immigrant families. The Latino/a Studies courses helped me realize that in order to understand, or even being to understand, a certain issue, I had to see the issue as multi-faceted.

What is some advice that you would give other students pursuing a certificate in Latino/a Studies?
I would advise students that go into Latino/a Studies to engage with the new material with an open mind, and attempt to think about the issues dealing with Latino/a Studies with a sort of in-between mentality. Latinos are often described as “neither here nor there” because we are a group that is between the mother culture of our parents and the Anglo-culture of the U.S. Approaching Latino issues from only one of these perspectives—the Latin American immigrant or the Anglo majority perspective—is not enough, because Latinos encompass a smashing together of both of these perspectives into something new.