On Friday, February 22nd, we had hosted another CLACS Alumn during our Perspectives from the Field Series, a speaker series that invites CLACS alumni from a wide range of professions to speak about their experiences since graduation, and how their studies at CLACS prepared them for the work that they are doing today. The topics that our invited speakers discuss in the series include development, education, human rights, business, public health, and more.
On this day, we welcomed, Zamaly Diaz Lebron a 2006 CLACS MA alumnus and currently is a Program Officer for university placement services at the Institute of International Education (IIE). Zamaly, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has a Bachelor’s Degree from the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and also completed another NYU Master’s program in Performance Studies (completed in 2007) while studying at CLACS.
Soon after graduation, Lebron started working at IIE, and has been there since 2007. Founded in 1919, IIE is a non-profit organization, and one of the leading research and management organizations in the world when it comes to student exchanges, mobility, and program management. It is known for publishing all of the statistics for incoming and outgoing student populations to and from the US, managing over 200 programs for international and US undergraduates, graduates, degree-seekers, and scholars who want to go abroad or come to the US. IIE also administers the Fulbright program. IIE works with over 170 countries and has over 17 offices around the world, and is a gateway and a resource for universities to see what is available in terms of international populations, and to diversify and internationalize their campuses.
Lebron oversees all of the placements for any student, scholar, ABD (“All But Dissertation”), or professional interested in the humanities, anthropology, and journalism. She specializes in placing sponsored students from abroad in US institutions whether they want to get their Master’s, their PhDs, complete dissertation research, or work on a specific project.
Lebron said that CLACS opened doors for her personally and professionally. At CLACS, she learned how important writing is and how she would use it in every facet of her life. In addition, she was encouraged at CLACS to do independent research and to present it publicly. She had her first experience with public speaking while presenting a paper at UT Austin and said that the feedback that she received and the networking that was able to do there was crucial to her CLACS experience.
Lebron also credited CLACS introducing her to field research outside of the classroom. She encourages students to take advantage of their time at CLACS, and to go abroad, publish articles, and present work. Even if it doesn’t work out the first time, keep applying.
Finally, Lebron said that CLACS broadened the way that she thinks and feels about Latin America and the Caribbean, especially when it comes to how Latin Americanists relate to other parts of the world. CLACS also helped her to define what area studies means. That although it is interdisciplinary, it doesn’t mean that it is unfocused. She is also grateful to CLACS for helping her become aware of how different cultures work and how to be tactful and diplomatic when dealing with them.
If you would like to know what some of our other Alumni are up to, please join us for our next talk on Friday, March 29th, as we sit down with Madeline Del Toro Cheney, Adjunct Faculty Member at Stony Brook University to hear how her training in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at CLACS prepared her for her career. We hope to see you and some friends there for interesting conversations and great networking opportunities – it’s never too early to think about the future!
Elizabeth Con is an MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU