‌Ariela Atwell is a first year graduate student in the Latin American Studies Master’s program at the University of Miami. She was born in Pensacola, Florida where she graduated high school. A lover of travel and the arts, she started her bachelors at Richmond the American International University in London.  She completed a dual bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University in Political science and Studio Arts in May of 2013.  She is fluent in Spanish and passionate about her Cuban heritage. Her interests include the changing nature of the immigration system here in the U.S., and the values norms and characteristics of the Cuban Diaspora in Miami, specifically related to second and third generation Cuban immigrants. Ariela hopes to continue her studies in the area all the way up through a PhD, with hopes of working in academia.

Mary Cano at Sugar Loaf Mountain during a Summer trip to Rio de Janeiro, BrazilMARY CANO

‌Mary Cano is a second year M.A. student in Latin American Studies. She graduated from St. Thomas University in 2011 where she double majored in Political Science and Liberal Arts. She is fluent in English and Spanish and conversational in Portuguese. Her interests are in the fields of immigration, human rights, and governmental policy. Upon graduation she would like to continue her education, attend law school, and ultimately work for a nongovernmental agency specializing in immigration reform. 

Armando at the Trevi Fountain in Rome

‌Armando has a B.A. in Religious Studies with a minor in History from Florida International University. He has taught History in the Miami-Dade County Public School system for the past 6 years. He has traveled extensively throughout Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Spain. His family immigrated from Cuba during the early 1960s and has contributed to his interest in Latin American migration. He is also interested in religion in Latin America, phenomena of social media, and the situation of Latin American immigrants in Spain.


‌A native of Tampa, FL, Franklin Smith received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary with degrees in English and Philosophy.  He has studied in Chile, led educational trips to Costa Rica, and traveled throughout much of Latin America.  Franklin has taught English in South America, the U.S., and Spain, as well as working in farmworker health outreach as an AmeriCorps member. While in Miami, he has interned with the International Rescue Committee and started a small business.  His research interests are development, foreign aid, and social entrepreneurship in South America.  In his spare time, Franklin enjoys meditation, travel, cooking, and all kinds of exploration.

Carlo enjoying a boat ride in the port city of Cartagena, ColombiaCARLO ZEPEDA

‌Carlo B. Zepeda was born in San Salvador, El Salvador.  During his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California, Carlo relocated to Europe, where he worked as a fashion model for more than a decade. After returning home from abroad, he focused his attention on working with less privileged groups, including undocumented youth and their families, people affected/infected with HIV/AIDS, and the gay and lesbian community. After almost ten years away from the classroom he decided to complete his college education—he graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a B.A. in University Without Walls and Geography. While in school he participated in a study abroad program in San Jose, Costa Rica.  There, he had the opportunity to work in outreach and the design of educational health programs at the Instituto Latinoamericano de Educación, Prevención en Salud (ILPES).

Carlo has always remained passionate about his native country and the issues related to the region: education, health, gender, sexuality and above all, human rights. He has traveled throughout much of Latin America and the Caribbean and is fluent in Spanish and French and has a working knowledge of Italian. He is currently a second-year Latin American Studies graduate student.  His research interests are foreign relations, education, non-profit management, gender equality and orientation. For his master’s thesis he is researching the Fashion Influences: The emergence of homosexual identity among young gay males in post-civil war El Salvador. Upon graduation, Carlo would like to secure a post at a diplomatic bureau or an NGO that actively engages in bettering the lives of people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Grace and her new friend Richard, on a home-building/medical trip to Honduras

‌Grace Lanier is originally from Houston, Texas and graduated with a B.A. in International Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies from Pepperdine University. She studied abroad her sophomore year in Buenos Aires, Argentina and had the privilege of living with a family who taught her all about tango, maté, and futbol. The following summer she traveled to Madrid, Spain for a language immersion program. She has also spent time in Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Brazil. She has a love for the Spanish language and has also taken a few Portuguese classes at UM. She is currently enjoying her last semester of the Latin American Studies program and is writing her thesis on bilingualism and identity among second generation Hispanic Americans living in Miami.

At the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

‌Charles Roberts is a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Latin American Studies. He is pursuing an M.A. in Latin American Studies with a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. His research focuses on the applications of GIS technologies in historical and archaeological research, specifically in relation to Mayan archaeology. He is originally from the United Kingdom but came to Miami as an undergraduate student in International Relations and Geography because of the university's unique position as a cross-roads to Latin America, as well as the year-round beautiful weather.