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Graduate Students

Megan Skaggs

MA/M.Ed. in IEPM Candidate, 2021

Megan is from Brownsville, Kentucky, and attended Western Kentucky University (WKU) where she earned her B.A. in International Affairs with a minor in Latin American Studies, and her B.A. in English with a concentration in Literature. While at WKU, she became particularly interested in the role that NGOs and nonprofits play in improving educational opportunities for marginalized children in Central America after spending six weeks working as a tutor at an orphanage in San Lucas, Guatemala. After graduation, Megan decided to expand her understanding of both NGOs and governmental organizations in education as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Esquipulas, Guatemala, where she worked with the Access English Microscholarship Program. Working alongside Guatemalan English teachers and community-led foundations, she led conversation clubs, literature clubs, and cultural exchange initiatives within the Esquipulas community. Upon returning to the U.S., she served as an English Composition instructor with the Western Kentucky University Upward Bound Program, which offers potential first-generation college students the chance to better prepare for university courses. At Vanderbilt, she is dual degree student in the M.A. in Latin American Studies/M.Ed. in International Education Policy and Management program. Skaggs will also be a graduate assistant for the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures where she will serve as a CLAS liaison. She is eager to expand her knowledge and understanding of the cultural and linguistic influences that may affect educational opportunities among marginalized groups in Central and South America. By further developing her research in the field, she will explore ways to use education as a means to promote social and economic mobility across the region.


Alex Allison

MA Candidate, 2021

Alex was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) with a B.A. in History with honors. During his undergraduate studies, Alex developed a strong interest in Latin American history which led him to participate in a semester-long study abroad program at the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso located in Valparaíso, Chile. As an undergraduate student Alex also co-authored two encyclopedia entries with the Chair of IPFW’s History Department and briefly worked as the Assistant Editor for Reviews for Enterprise and Society: The International Journal of Business History. Following graduation, Alex moved to Barcelona, Spain, where he worked as a private English instructor. In 2016, Alex’s interests in Colombia’s civil conflict led him to serve as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) at the Universidad Tecnológica del Chocó located in Quibdó, Colombia. Throughout his role as an ETA, Alex developed a strong admiration of Chocoano culture and gained a unique appreciation of how geographic isolation, government abandonment, racial injustice, and poverty enable armed groups to operate within the department of Chocó. Inspired by his personal background in the region, Alex intends to use his time as a master’s student at Vanderbilt to study the history of the armed groups in Chocó and other departments along Colombia’s Pacific coast and to explore how racial attitudes, social marginalization, and geography impact the peace-building process. Additionally, Alex is very excited to have the opportunity to study Haitian Creole at Vanderbilt and looks forward to expanding his understanding of the Black Atlantic.


Lorely Chavez  

MA/MPH in Global Health Candidate, 2022

Lorely is a first-generation student from from the Central Valley of California. She is enrolled in the Latin American Studies and Global Health dual-degree program exploring health equity in undeserved populations. Lorely obtained her Bachelors of Arts at the University of California Merced, where she studied Psychology and Public Health. She has served her community in various capacities through community-agency collaborations such as in healthy equity and anti-tobacco coalitions. Lorely’s experiences involve working with Latinx migrant farm laborers, developing health workforce programs, and creating avenues for communities to utilize local data for their own projects or initiatives through Community Based Participatory Research methods.



Isaac Schlotterbeck

MA/MPH in Global Health Candidate, 2022

Isaac was born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida, and graduated cum laude from Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) with a B.A. in Political Science and Latin American Studies. During his undergraduate studies, Isaac studied abroad in Cuenca, Ecuador and Mendoza, Argentina, where he attended classes at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. At Dickinson College, Isaac developed an academic interest in marginalized groups in South America, with a focus on indigenous peoples in Ecuador and Bolivia. After graduating in the spring of 2016, Isaac moved to Washington, DC where he worked for Polaris Project, a NGO that fights human trafficking, and then Advisory Board/Optum, a healthcare technology, consulting, and research firm. In addition to the MA in Latin American Studies, Isaac is working towards an MPH (Global Health) at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. Isaac intends to join his interests in Latin America and public health through a thesis project that examines improvements in the access and quality of healthcare in Latin America.


Spanish & Portuguese, PhD Candidate, 2023

Margaret Kelly (Atlanta, Georgia) is a PhD student in the department of Spanish and Portuguese. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Romance Languages (Spanish and French) from the University of Georgia in 2013. After living and working in Paris, France for a year, she moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she worked as a Teaching Assistant and obtained her Masters of Arts in the Teaching Languages with a triple emphasis in Spanish, French, and TESOL from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2017.


Genevieve Arnold
MA Candidate, 2022

Genevieve is originally from Lexington, KY, where she graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BA in Linguistics and a BA in Spanish in 2018. Her undergraduate studies took her abroad to Latin America and Europe, and after graduating she moved to Spain to teach English. At Vanderbilt, Genevieve is pursuing an MA in Latin American Studies and she is excited to study K’iche’ Maya, which will allow her to continue to investigate the complex relationship between the languages and cultures of Latin America that she discovered during her undergraduate career.


Erin Straight
MA Candidate, 2022

Erin is from Wolcott, New York and she obtained her undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Spanish from the University of Rochester in 2017. After serving as an AmeriCorps City Year member and working for the Council on International Educational Exchange in Boston, she moved to Assis, Brazil in 2019 to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. At Vanderbilt, she looks forward to honing her Portuguese language skills and her knowledge of Latin American politics and social entrepreneurship.