My name is Wanda Quintanilla-Duran and I am finishing up my major within the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at Rutgers. CLAS has influenced my life academically and personally. From the moment I expressed interest in Latin America, Prof. Camilla Stevens patiently helped me explore all the options so that I was able to pursue and obtain a major in Latin American Studies. I began by taking “Latinos and Migration,” a class taught by Dr. Ulla Berg. This class shaped my way of seeing and understanding myself as a Honduran migrant in the U.S and it shaped my way of analyzing all migratory processes as complex phenomena that “needs” to be studied. I am currently writing an Honor’s Thesis in Latin American Studies directed by Dr. Ulla Berg.
My thesis examines the experience of Honduran migrants currently residing in South Jersey (Atlantic County). I am interested in seeing how travel form–that is, whether they arrived with visas or crossed the US-Mexico border without authorization–affects the Honduran migrants’ current experiences of settlement in the United States and their relationship with the homeland. It was precisely in the Latin American Studies major that I learned to feel valued not only as a student and a person, but also as one who is able to contribute to the production of knowledge. I have enjoyed every single class in the department, not only because of the content, but also because I have not yet encountered a better pedagogy elsewhere in the University. Each professor has left a mark in my heart and in my mind. Next year, I am attending Ohio State University to obtain a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics. Although I am not pursuing a degree in area studies, it was my experience in Latin American Studies that made me realize the importance of focusing my linguistic and ethnographic research on Latin American and US Latino populations.