Bios of the students of the MA program.
My name is Yifat Aluf and as you can learn from my name I'm a native of Israel who came to New York as part of pursuing my dream to continue my history studies. As I graduated from the Open University of Israel with a BA in history, I always wanted to come and study in the United States in order to gather better understanding of the foreign relations between the US and the Middle East. In addition, I have a keen interest, and wrote my MA thesis, on the effect of the Six Day War in the Middle East on Jewish radicals in the US. The Study of the Americas MA program here at CWE is an interdisciplinary program, and as such, it offers varied opportunities in research in many fields of interest, such as history, sociology, urban studies and more. The professors who teach in the Study of the Americas program come from different disciplinary areas and bring more learning opportunities to students. The variety of students and professors make this program special and I highly recommend it. As for me, as for now, I'm in the process of applying to a PhD program in American studies.
Jorge Arteaga graduated in Spring 2016. He was accepted to the highly competitive Teach for America. He currently teaches English as a Second Language at the Ninth Grade Academy in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Ethics and Politics of a Plural World / Latin American History and Studies
BA Summa cum Laude, June 2012
Home College: City College (CUNY)
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Martin Woessner, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, City College of New York
Accomplishments : Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship Kaye Scholar for the Humanities and the Arts , Aaron Naumberg Study and Travel Scholarship , Leonard Spano Memorial Award for Excellence in History and Social Sciences , Maria Bowen Chapin Award Student Representative, University Committee on The CUNY Baccalaureate , Dean’s List
Álvaro de Prat arrived in the U.S. from Venezuela in 2006 after twelve years of teaching and many years of writing for Venezuelan authors. He also managed departments of publications, public relations and international marketing in the private sector, and worked for over two decades as a freelance translator and publication advisor. Still, he never completed his formal higher education. While in college and working as a foreign languages teacher, he accepted a job with Viasa, the now defunct Venezuelan International Airlines. The job meant working in over twenty countries in Europe and the Americas, and thus having to live as a “flying nomad.” Over the course of those nine years he became an itinerant correspondent and editor for the best-known art magazine in Venezuela, Estilo, and published his first independent works, while continuing to study on his own: art, literature, languages, history, politics, philosophy and our planet’s different worldviews. De Prat became a father days before his thirtieth birthday. Not long afterwards, a casualty of the fraudulent bankruptcy of the Venezuelan International Airlines, the “Bolivarian Revolution” a few years later resulted in the government increasingly becoming the country’s main employer upon sworn allegiance, while closing or severely restricting media outlets and tampering with the foreign languages section of the educational system where de Prat worked as a humanities teacher. Among skyrocketing crime and polarization in a narrowing economic landscape, de Prat tried, and failed, to open doors abroad as an entrepreneur in solar and alternative energies industries.
In relocating to the U.S. and returning to college, he chose to continue learning, writing and teaching from our world’s pluralistic understandings. His concentrations were constructed with courses from the City College’s Division of Interdisciplinary Studies and The CUNY Graduate Center in history, philosophy, political science, economics, anthropology, human rights, literature and media. During the summer of 2010, de Prat developed a multicultural project, Imaginaries of the Americas without Frontiers, for the Association “The Art of Freedom,” in Miami, Florida. Before pursuing doctoral studies in 2014, he will finish translating the groundbreaking work América profunda, by the late Argentinean philosopher Rodolfo Kusch. This project took him to Argentina during the winter of 2011, where he researched Kusch’s works while taking seminars at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero on Argentinean Literature and Human Rights. De Prat published his first academic paper in the U.S., Syncretic, Indigenous, and Otherwise Embodied: On the Healing Return of the Repressed into a World of Dissociate Politics, in the journal Apuntes: Reflexiones Teológicas desde el Contexto Hispano-Latino of the SMU-Perkins School of Theology. He is currently readying other papers for publication. De Prat, who speaks five languages, became a certified court interpreter in late 2010. He works for the Superior Court of New Jersey and as a conference and legal interpreter across various states. Prof. Irina Carlota Silver, Anthropology, City, says, “In my years of experience, few students have matched Álvaro’s intellectual grounding, curiosity and scholarly potential”; his mentor calls him “one of the most gifted students I have ever taught.”
"All my life I had to fight..." (Alice Walker, The Color Purple)
Truly, City College is my home. Somehow, I am saddened at the fact that I have graduated. If there were a way for me to go and find time, I would tell it to standstill. Then my college days at the Center for Worker Education (CWE) would be on-going. Why? I am proud of it. I walk, sleep and breathe CWE. It has become a part of my blood and bodily function. CWE has taught me how to appreciate each and every part of my daily experience; but most of all, how to live free within my heart, mind, body and soul. Hence, it has equipped me with the right tool to become an independent and a mature scholar within the twenty-first century.
Therefore, I am super ready to go to another level. My level. The greatest level.
Viva CWE/City College!
Sheila Garrison is on her way to completing the last third of the Master of Arts in the Study of the Americas program. She completed her undergraduate education at the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center of Worker Education (CWE) with a degree in Liberal Arts. Garrison explains, "It is great to return to CWE to pursue a graduate degree. After working many years as a federal employee, the program is helping to explore different avenues for a career change. I have many different interests outside of my daily work routine. The program’s focus on the Americas meshes with my interests. As a member of the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society, I am always looking for opportunities to expand my knowledge base. Studying the African Diaspora in the Americas is a challenge. CWE courses have helped to improve my writing skills. Every course provides an opportunity to present research findings. Not only am I learning from the professors, I am learning from my fellow classmates as well.”
I figured I would share with you a recent development in my writing. I just published a short essay in the new edition of the Blair Reader by Pearson. I am a bit surprised to be honest, considering I am a complete novice compared to the authors also included in the chapter: Alice Walker, David Brooks, E.B. White. I am included in the first chapter.
Andrea Luján received her BA with honors in Art History from Columbia University in 2011. In 2010, as an assistant researcher for Columbia University’s Oral History Research Office, now the Columbia University Center for Oral History (CCOH), Luján processed a series of interviewsfor the Elizabeth Murray Oral History of Women in the Visual Arts, which enabled those archival materials to become available to the public. With particular attention to the economics of race and gender, Luján’s research focuses on the history of American Latin@ art and dance and the performance of culture. She conducts an historiographical analysis of race, class, and gender in dance. She has lectured at the 2012 and 2013 joint conferences of the Society of Dance History Scholars and the Congress on Research in Dance, and the 2013 international joint conference co-hosted by the Society of Dance History Scholars, the Nordic Forum for Dance Research, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway.
Her choreography, a hybrid movement inspired by her professional performance career in theater, modern dance, and Mexican traditional ballet folklorico, has been presented in New York, California, and New Mexico. Currently, Luján is pursuing an interdisciplinary MA degree in the Study of the Americas. Her MA thesis explores marginalized American identities and examines the legacy of the American modern dance pioneer and choreographer, Lester Horton (1906-1953).
Born in New York City to Dominican parents, Roberto Perez is one of our recent graduate students, who is enrolled in his second semester within the MA program in the Study of the Americas. He has a background in Computer Science, American Studies, and Mathematics. Roberto holds a BS degree in Computer Science and a BA degree in American Studies with a concentration in Puerto Rican and Afro-American Studies from SUNY at Buffalo.
He is currently an Adjunct at the SUNY Brooklyn Educational Opportunity Center where he teaches GED Mathematics under the Academic Workforce Development Program and College Prep Mathematics for the Academic Affairs Department at CUNY New York City Technical College.
Roberto has also worked in the private and nonprofit sectors for over 20 years as a technology consultant; he is also a Microsoft Certified Technology Associate. He continues to assist many community based-organizations in the South Bronx, Harlem, and El Barrio. His focus has been to provide economic development, computer training, network installation and maintenance for the communities he serves. Also, Roberto facilitates after-school programs that provide computer classroom network installations and curriculum development. He has done consulting work for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services-DCAS, the New York City Parks and Recreations, the New York State Empire Development Corp, the Bronx Overall Economical Develop Corp, and to many health clinics and small business throughout New York City.
His goal is to continue to assist New York City small businesses, colleges and community based-organizations with a holistic approach that continues to increase our culturally rich society with love and prosperity when he completes the program.
Sherley Jean-Pierre is a writer and poet. Born in Haiti, she has lived in Brooklyn since the age of nine. She entered the Study of the Americas MA program in Fall 2012. She earned a BA in English literature from Brooklyn College in 2000. She earned 50 undergraduate credits in African Diaspora Studies at Baruch College from 2006 to 2010. Her primary research interests are race and sports, black identities and the depiction of black women in film, television, advertising, popular music and literature. Her interests also include popular culture and black celebrity, with a specific interest in iconic/crossover black male figures in sports and entertainment. She is engaged in researching the life, career, music and iconography of Michael Jackson in order to produce novel and critical scholarship on race, gender, and black masculinity in the United States in the 20th Century. Her secondary interests include the Afro-Francophone diaspora with a keen interest in the black presence in New Orleans, Haiti, and the work of Frantz Fanon and Maryse Condé. Upon completion of her studies at CWE she hopes to pursue a doctorate in North American Studies at The Graduate School of North American Studies of Freie University, Berlin. Ms. Jean-Pierre publishes her essays and poems on her blog iamsherleyfierce.wordpress.com
Hello my name is Lynn Reed and I am a very happy 2013 Master of Arts of the Study of the Americas graduate of CUNY. I have been in school studying and trying to achieve my Bachelor of Arts degree for over twenty years, living through motherhood and a failing relationship, and today I am so happy that I am a graduate of both a Bachelor and a Master of Arts degree. It is a dream come true. My greatest joy comes from speaking for folks who are afraid to talk up for themselves or just stand up for their rights. I work at the Human Resources Administration (HRA), which is a place of service to communities that are in need of help. My department is Adult Protective Services (APS) and daily this department seeks help for the elderly. I am the liaison for the Christmas-toy drive at HRA and have been for the last eleven years. This event collects toys for the children of different communities such as children with Aids and Abused children. I am also the liaison for Daffodils Days, which is a Cancer drive for the American Cancer Society. My love and passion is and always will be learning and supporting others that are less fortunate than myself. I am a single parent of two children: one daughter, thirty-two years old, and a son, twenty-three. Parenting has been a great and challenging experience. My daughter is a Tech Sergeant in the United States Air Force and my son graduated from high school and is working as a model and entrepreneur. We are members of Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York, New York. Dr. Rev. Calvin O. Butts III is the presiding pastor. We have been members for twenty-one years and I have served as the co-chair for the children choir and the senior audio engineer for many years. In today’s society it is very difficult to talk to young people; we have to be an example, model through working our own situations out. I give my all and some days it seems just like it isn’t enough, but I stay steadfast to my mission, which is letting my children as well as the youth I work with know: ‘If I can as an adult still be motivated, you can too.’ My days are always good, just some days are more challenging because of my daughters’ active military status: not always knowing what her mission may turn into and also having an adult son trying to find his destiny. Some folks live through life wondering what their purpose is, but I am so happy to say I am an advocate for people who don’t have a voice.
Tshala M. Richards is a graduate of the CWE MA Study of the Americas program. She studies Eastern Caribbean culture and gender relations. Her master research emphasizes the birth, evolution and socio-economic impact Calypsos share within the Lesser Antilles. In 2012, her research has taken her on historic and melodic quests within the islands of Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As a proud Antiguan-American, she plans to carve a niche for other “small-islander” scholars to highlight the uniqueness of their socio-political culture within the overall Anglo-Caribbean discourse. As an undergraduate at Baruch College, CUNY, she attained an Ad-Hoc BA in Ethnic Marketing and Communications. As an alumna, she donates her time and professional experience as a workshop panelist and student mentor at the STARR Career Center. As a future philanthropist she hopes to cultivate, what she calls, the next generation of “Caribbean Cultural Caretakers” and eagerly awaits the journey ahead.
Born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, Ellis Rua entered the MA program Fall of 2013. He comes to us from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York, where he earned a BA in English. Always busy, at St. Francis he served as the Head Team Manager for the colleges NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball team for three years, where he traveled the United States, city to city, arena to arena, and hotel to hotel. He also worked for the Office of Freshmen Studies as a Peer Mentor for the Removing Obstacles to Success (ROS) program, and as a Student Leader for both open house and freshmen orientation events, where he lectured potential and new students. Ellis was also the recipient of the Arthur Curry Endowed Scholarship from the HBO network and St. Francis' St. Claire scholarship. During his final year at St. Francis, Ellis also received approval from the United States government and St. Francis College to obtain a research visa to visit Cuba. While not on the road and off-campus, Ellis volunteered at New Heights NYC as a tutor and mentor for their High School Assist program, where he met twice a week with middle-school aged boys. Prior to St. Francis, Ellis initially interned at Interscope Records and then received a position as an Assistant Project Manager at Thinktank Digital, a New York City publicity firm where he worked on promotional projects for artists such as Mary J. Blidge, Lady Gaga, LMFAO, Akon, and Kid Cudi.
During the year of 2012-13, Ellis began a video interview based project through which he and his team traveled and filmed interviews in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and domestically within the United States. The project, which is currently still in production, focuses on auto-narrative interviews with interlocutors from diverse backgrounds from all over the world.
While testing the waters of the humanities at the age of 24, Ellis currently works at The City College of New York's Center for Worker Education as the assistant to Dr. Alessandra Benedicty, Director of the MA program in the Study of the Americas. During the spring semester of 2014, he is also assisting The Human Rights Forum at the City College of New York with various initiatives associated with bringing high theory and practice together. Eventually, he hopes to work as a professional at either an academic institution or for a international governmental/ nongovernmental organization.
Nelson Santana is a 2013 graduate of the Center for Worker Education, the City College’s Division of Interdisciplinary Studies. He attended Fall 2011 through Fall 2012 and graduated with a Master of Arts in the Study of the Americas in February 2013. Nelson is the recipient of several awards. He was awarded a Dean’s fellowship at Drexel University and is currently a Diversity Scholar (2013-2015) for the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Nelson started working at the City College in January 2007. He works as Assistant Librarian at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, working directly with the Institute’s Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte in the management and daily functions of the Library. Alongside Professor Aponte, he also teaches educational workshops. As Assistant Librarian he provides research and reference consultations to researchers, thus providing access to materials relating to the Dominican population in the United States. Nelson is a graduate of Baruch College with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. At the present time Nelson is pursuing a Master of Science in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archival Studies at Drexel University. Nelson’s research interest includes the intellectual history of Dominican migration to the United States. In his MA thesis, “The Political Theology of Juan Paulino’s Club Cívico y Cultural Juan Pablo Duarte” (2012), Nelson argues how Roman Catholicism served as one of the principal driving forces that fueled the founding of one of the earliest Dominican organizations. He used the archival collection of Juan A. Paulino, which is housed at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Archives.
“Luis Días,” “Juan Marichal,” “Pedro Martínez,” “José Mesón” and “Alex Rodriguez.” In Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Franklin W. Knight, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
“Juan Pablo Duarte.” In The Encyclopedia of Latino and Latina History. D.H. Figueredo, ed. New York, NY: Facts on File, Incorporated, forthcoming.
“Expanding the Scope of Music: From Dancing Tunes to Production.” In “Dominican Immigrants” by Ramona Hernández and Anthony Stevens-Acevedo. Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans. Ronald H. Bayor, ed. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Press, 2011. Print.
“Forging a Dominican American Identity through Political Theology: The Case of the Club Cívico y Cultural Juan Pablo Duarte.” Presented at SUNY Binghamton’s Shifting Tides, Anxious Borders Conference 2013: “Reimagining the New World(s).” Binghamton, New York. 19 Apr. 2013.
“Roman Catholicism as the Most Important Cultural Product of Dominican Civic Organizing: The Case of the CCCJPD.” Presented at SUNY Stony Brook's the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Center’s 12th Annual Graduate Conference – “Commodities, Capitalism, and Culture: Latin America and Global Links.” New York, New York. 12 Apr. 2013.
I have spent ten years working in the non-profit social service sector. I began my professional career doing environmental advocacy, working as an organizer for NYPRIG. Afterwards in 2003, I moved on to political campaigning, as an intern for the Working Families Party. With WFB, I co-directed a political campaign for Francisco Moya, who then was successfully elected to represent Queens in the United States Senate. I moved onto working for the Service Employees International Union, first as an organizer in their WAVE Program and then as a tel-organizer for their New York City call center. After that, I worked at AmeriCorp VISTA doing housing policy and advocacy with a leading co-op developer: Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB). I have also worked on a special project with the Department of Cultural Affairs in conjunction with Community Board 13 in Brooklyn helping integrate the immigrant population in the Brighton Beach area of the borough. Continuing my journey, I eventually became involved in health and wellness, doing clinical and Cobra case management for Bronx Aids Services (BAS), while managing a housing block of 20 units occupied by immigrants affected by HIV for the Catholic Charities.
I am also into art and music: in 2004-2005 I started a clothing line called T-Boyz that specialized in customized t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. I also launched a Spanish language, hip-hop recording company called S2N (Soni2 Negro). My music is available for listen at Soundcloud.com/jose_w_torres or under the name Taffeta. I have released 4 mix-tapes under the nomenclature Alla AKA Taffeta.
I graduated from the City College of New York with Bachelors of Art’s in both Anthropology and International Studies. At the moment, I am in the final semester of a M.A in American Studies, in where my concentration is infrastructure and cultural mobility. My career goal is to obtain a position within the United Nations or another international NGO, which would allow me help promote economic development in a developing country. Currently, I am a counselor at Bronx Design and Construction Academy. I am also a proud father of an 8-year-old boy named Ahmir.
Jing Zhao I am a Chinese language instructor in the Oriental Studies Department of Hunter College of CUNY, and an adjunct faculty member in ASA College and a teacher in Learn Language Hoboken. I am also a Chinese-English translator and interpreter who has worked for Brooklyn College, Bank of China New York branch and so on. I am from China and I joined this program in the fall semester of 2013. I graduated from Beijing Language and Culture University with an MA in Chinese Linguistics and obtained my BA in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Heilongjiang University. I had been a Chinese instructor teaching Mandarin, Chinese culture and literature to students from the U.S. and other countries in various programs and universities, including China Studies Institute in Peking University, College of Intensive Chinese Training in Beijing Language and Culture University,Harvard Beijing Academy and Critical Languages Scholarship and so on. I love reading, traveling, watching movies, drama and musicals, singing Karaoke, tasting local cuisine, learning languages, and riding bicycles. My favorite activity in NYC is watching the sunset on the Highline. Talking to professors at CWE is also a lot of fun. They are witty, learned, humorous, and considerate. I love this program, and I them.