April 23, 2013

Latin American and Latino Program offers new major

By Esther Lee–DOD

As of Summer 2012, the University of Louisville approved the Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) Bachelor of Arts major. The Latin American and Latino Program was established in the year of 2000 to enrich the students with the Latin American culture and knowledge. The program offers an undergraduate minor in Latin American Studies, an undergraduate minor in Latino studies, graduate certificate in LALS, and now the LALS major.

At the University of Louisville, the classes offered with Latin American content  range from 100 level introductory courses to 600 levels in many disciplines such as history, modern language, humanities, and anthropology such as the Introduction to Latin American Studies with Dr. Rhonda Bunchanan and Introduction to Latin Studies with Dr. Tricia Gray.

Leah Dahline, senior, will be one of the first to graduate from the University of Louisville as a LALS major along with a second major in Spanish and minor in math. “I am excited to be one of the first LAS graduates alongside my friends Rosslyn Steinmetz and Kelsey Stanley. This program provided so many opportunities for me to get involved in the community and study in more areas that I hadn’t been able to explore before,” Dahline stated.

Dahline’s decision to pursue a LALS degree stemmed from her previous travel experience to Latin America, love for the culture and language, and overlapping classes with her Spanish degree. During her academic career, Dahline went above and beyond with her involvement in the LALS program. She helped create the LALS club and became its first president. Dahline was also hired by the department as a LALS Student Assistant and interned at the Americana Community Center.

After graduation, Dahline plans to work with an organization named Borderlinks. The organization commits to bringing awareness about immigration policies and opportunities in order to connect the divided. Dahline will be going to Tuscan, Ariz. to work as a delegation leader for Borderlinks.

When asked about the benefits about the program, Dahline stated, “I think the program will help give students an appreciation and understanding of the fastest growing minority population here in the United States. Because Louisville is also a center for immigration and refugees, it will whelp students become more aware of our Latino population and culture that is very prevalent both on campus and off.”
According to the university program website, the program’s main goal is to “promote an interdisciplinary understanding of the complex issues and realities of the diverse peoples and cultures of Latin America and the United States, and enhance our students’ abilities to participate in the global community.” Following Dahline’s example, the LALS major addition will surely bring the cultural awareness and diversity not only within the student body but also beyond campus boundaries.

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Photos courtesy of the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies

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