Meet Our Concentrators!

Each year, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies hosts a number of concentrators with a diverse and fascinating array of interests.  These  students are definitely poised to make important contributions to the field. Find out more about them from their biographies below! 

Charlotte Biren is a senior double concentrating in Development Studies and Latin American Studies. Charlotte is interested in the effects of international development on indigenous communities and cultures, and is writing a Development Studies honors thesis on the digital media representation strategies of Kichwa communities in Northern Ecuador. Inspired by her mother's experience as an Ecuadorian immigrant, she has focused on the Latin American identity and representation in the United States, with specific respect to the migrant labor population. She worked with UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment looking specifically at the migrant labor conditions and organizing in the Southern California Car Wash Industry. She has also spent time working with the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA), which serves predominantly Latino/a youth and is modeled on the Venezuela's music education system, El Sistema. Charlotte hopes to spend some quality time exploring and researching in Latin America after graduation.

Katherine Grusky is a Junior concentrating in History and Latin American Studies. She first became interested in Latin American studies while studying the Spanish language. In high school, she began volunteering at Neighbors Link, an organization aimed at strengthening the entire community with the integration of immigrants. She really became interested in immigration and the intersection of history, culture, economics and policy. She is currently studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she is taking classes at la Pontificia Universidad Católica and interning at a Chilean political “think tank,” Instituto Libertad, where she works on writing articles pertaining to international relations for Chilean politicians, press and internal use.  At Brown, she is involved with Inspiring Minds Tutoring, where she teaches ESL in Providence schools. She is also involved with Brown Entrepreneurship Program, Brown Wind Symphony and Kappa Alpha Theta.  

Vi Mai is a third-year student double concentrating in International Relations and Latin American & Caribbean Studies. Born in Vietnam, Vi now resides with her parents in Sarasota, FL. She developed an interest in Latin America through her internship at UnidosNow, where she witnessed the legacy of U.S. interventionism through the lives of undocumented Latino students. Wanting to learn more about the ways in which this legacy is still manifested in the region and in the lives of Latino Americans, she decided to pursue Latin America and the Caribbean Studies and later to study abroad in Cuba. Outside of the classroom, Vi is heavily involved in the AAPI community through her position as coordinator of Brown Asian Sisters Empowered and in the first-gen/low-income student community through her work with Quest Scholars at Brown. Vi is a big fan of soccer, and she hopes that one day, she will be watching a World Cup game in person.

Madeline Pesec* is a double concentrator in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Public Health. She was accepted to Brown's Program in Liberal Medical Education and plans to pursue an MD after graduation. As a child, Madeline became interested in Latin America and has since had the opportunity to travel and research extensively. At Brown, she continues to pursue the influence of culture, language, and history on public health policy in the Americas. Areas of expertise include: the history of epilepsy in the Andes; viable solutions to maternal and infant mortality rates in Bolivia; emergency medicine in the socialized medical system of Guadalajara, Mexico; primary care in Cuzco, Peru; and HIV/AIDS prevention programs in Mexico City.  

Mike Petro is a junior concentrating in Anthropology and Latin American Studies and a member of the Brown Engaged Scholars Program. His interests in the region began in high school Spanish and brought him to the deserts of the US-Mexico border, where he began to work out his current interests. His anthropological, historical, and political studies have been focused on Central America, Mexico, and migration to the United States, and he hopes to conduct field research in Arizona and Sonora in the coming summer. His current interests include refugees and undocumented migration, Catholic social teaching and praxis, religious activism, and indigenous language. Mike melts into an excited mess whenever he learns about a new American language and has spent much of the last year falling in love with Mayan languages. He will be studying in Cuba in the spring of 2016.

Winnie Shao* is a senior concentrating in Economics and Latin American Studies. Her academic interests include looking at possibilities of sustainable economic development, the interactions between economic development and various ethnic groups, the flow and counterflow of cultural information, and the intersection of information, technology, and development. She has conducted research in conjunction with Lifespan and the Brown Medical School on HIV/AIDS information dissemination, studying various ways to (via social media) reach populations across English and Spanish-speaking countries in the world.  On campus, she is involved in the Brown Daily Herald, the Brown Journal of World Affairs, and the Brown Center for Students of Color. She has also been heavily involved in the past with English for Action, a Providence-based organization focusing on empowerment of immigrant communities through education.

Lorena Vazquez 

Jenna Waldman is a senior from San Francisco, California double concentrating in History and Latin American Studies. Jenna’s interest in the region sprouted from classes she took in the History department on colonial Latin America, though she has most recently focused her research on contemporary questions about urbanization and economic development. She is writing her capstone research paper on the history and evolution of sex worker organizing in Brazil, and she is also studying Portuguese at Brown. Outside of academics, Jenna is a debate coach at Hope High School with the Rhode Island Urban Debate League and a member of the Interviews Board on the Brown Political Review. She is also the captain of Brown Women’s Club Soccer and a member of Brown University Storytellers. 

*Co-Presidents of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Departmental Undergraduate Group