Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Haitian Creole: One Stone Center grad's journey from Tulane to dream job

February 13th, 2013

When Kate Schuenke-Lucien applied to and then began studying for her Master’s degree at Tulane’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies in 2003 she had no idea a Haitian Creole FLAS grant was an option, nor did she know the central role that Haitian Creole studies would play in her life. Schuenke was already connected to Haiti-her family had a deep commitment to the country in the form of philanthropic and volunteer work. In fact, after her mother’s death, friends and family contributed funds to build a K-12 school in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, an appropriate memorial for a woman who was both a teacher and dedicated to work in Haiti.

Schuenke-Lucien began her academic life at Wheaton College, a private Christian liberal arts college outside of Chicago. There she double majored in Political Science and Spanish. While at the time she was more interested in countries like Argentina than in Haiti, after graduating with her BA Schuenke was invited to come and teach English and Spanish for a year at her mother’s school. After that year her commitment to the region had deepened and solidified. An advisor from her undergraduate institution suggested she apply to Tulane for a Master’s, citing the Stone Center’s strong program in the Caribbean.

When Schuenke-Lucien arrived at Tulane in 2003 she was surprised and delighted to learn of the Haitian Creole program. She already spoke Creole reasonably well after her time in Haiti, but the courses were essential for firmly establishing her knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. As she notes, the program also provided her with much needed "credentials" in the language. The university level courses in Haitian Creole, a highly unusual offering among academic institutions, gave her increased confidence, and the ability to demonstrate her Haitian Creole ability in the form of coursework, not just time spent in the country. Ultimately, Schuenke-Lucien took Haitian Creole all four semesters at Tulane and was a FLAS fellow for three of them. She also focused on Haiti for her Master’s thesis, working with Professor Martha Huggins to investigate the efficacy of the U.S. police training programs in Haiti.

From Tulane Schuenke went immediately to Notre Dame University where she began PhD work in Political Science, working with professors at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. There, she carried out research for scholars involved with the Kellogg Institute and, thanks to her Tulane training in Haiti and Haitian Creole, soon became the "default" person for research on Haiti. Thanks to her work at the Kellogg Institute, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Schuenke-Lucien was recommended to assist the university in organizing and communicating about Notre Dame’s Haitian outreach programs. One of the professors she worked with in this capacity was Father Timothy Scully, csc, with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). ACE works on a number of projects involving the Catholic Church and education in Haiti. In December 2012 Schuenke-Lucien was named Associate Director of ACE, responsible for coordinating and providing support for ACE Consulting's Haiti Catholic Education Initiatives.

Schuenke-Lucien is still working on completing her PhD, but describes her position at ACE as a "dream job," noting "I'm using all the skills I learned in graduate school in the most practical, effective, applied way possible to help dramatically improve the lives of Haitian children." While she acknowledges her PhD work certainly helped her achieve her Associate Director position, she writes that "I think the main reason I got this job is because of my training at Tulane, specifically all the Haitian Creole courses I was able to take and the research I did on Haiti."

To learn more about Schuenke-Lucien’s current work in Haiti, click here.







Upcoming Events

The Right to Memory: The Making of São Paulo's Resistance Memorial

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Kátia Felipini, Coordinator, São Paulo Resistance Memorial, will give a talk entitled “The Right to Memory: The Making of São Paulo's Resistance Memorial.” The talk will be in Portuguese.

The Resistance Memorial is Brazil's first national memorial dedicated to preserving memories of the political resistance and repression that occurred during the civil-military dictatorship that governed the country from 1964 to 1985. Kátia Felipini, who participated as a museologist in developing the memorial and now serves as its coordinator, will discuss the complex process of the memorial's creation and the lessons it offers for other sites in Brazil and around the world. This lecture will be given in Portuguese.

Sponsored by the Center for Scholars, the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Newcomb-Tulane College, and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. For more information please contact Rebecca Atencio (

The Traveler and the Ethnographic Ethos in the work of Juan José Saer and Bernardo Carvalho

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Anderson da Mata, an Assistant Professor of literary theory at Universidade de Brasília, will give a talk entitled “The Traveler and the Ethnographic Ethos in the work of Juan José Saer and Bernardo Carvalho.” The talk will be given in Portuguese.

Anderson da Mata is an Assistant Professor of literary theory at the Universidade de Brasília and author of O silêncio das crianças: representações da infância na narrativa brasileira contemporânea (Londrina: EDUEL, 2010).

Sponsored by Newcomb-Tulane College and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. For more information please contact Rebecca Atencio (

"The Media Operations and Communication Policies of Latin American Leftist Leaders: The Cases of Argentina and Uruguay"

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Ivan Schuliaquer, a visiting student scholar from Argentina working on his doctoral dissertation, will present a talk entitled, “The Media Operations and Communication Policies of Latin American Leftist Leaders.”

The leftist governments of Frente Amplio in Uruguay and of the Kirchners in Argentina share the viewpoint that large media conglomerates play an oppositional role in their respective countries. However, there is significant variation in the ways that both governments have organized their media operations and established communication policies. The presentation develops a comparative analysis of the two cases to explore the factors that shape the relationship between media and political leaders in the region.

For more information please contact Ivan Schuliaquer,

This event is sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

Bruno Bosteels speaks at Loyola University

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The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Loyola University presents: “Politics and Violence in Latin America: Democracy in the Criticism of Arms,” a talk by Bruno Bosteels, Professor of Romance Studies at Cornell University. Bosteels is the author of Badiou and Politics, Marx and Freud in Latin America, and The Actuality of Communism, among other works.

For more information on this event, please contact Josefa Salmon at

This event is sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies and the Caribbean, The Languages & Cultures Department at Loyola University, Rev. Scott Youree Watson, Gregory F. Curtin & Rev. Guy Lemieux SJ SAK Distinguished Professorships.

For the event flyer, click here.

The Pebbles Center turns 10!

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The Pebbles Center is celebrating its 10th Anniversary! The 10th anniversary falls on Dia, a celebration of children and reading. To celebrate, the Pebbles Center is hosting renowned children’s book author Jorge Argueta. Mr. Argueta was a guest at the inauguration of the Pebbles Center 10 years ago. See photographs from Mr. Argueta’s previous visit here. He will present an interactive presentation based on some of his most recent books.

Jorge Tetl Argueta is a celebrated Salvadoran poet and writer whose bi-lingual children’s books have received numerous awards. A native Salvadoran and Pipil Nahua Indian, Jorge spent much of his childhood in rural El Salvador. He feels that everybody is capable of writing, especially young children who are natural poets! Argueta has written a series of delicious cooking poems perfect for reading while cooking or incorporating food into the classroom. Come out and celebrate with us!

Children and parents will be able to enjoy a wonderful reading and a workshop highlighting the delicious foods found in his books. We will be of course providing snacks as well as be able to distribute a handful of bilingual books donated by the New Orleans Public Library.

El 30 de abril es una fecha muy significativa para los niños. Se celebra el día de los niños y de los libros. Esta celebración se conoce como El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, y celebra la alegría y las maravillas de la infancia y la importancia de los libros en nuestra vida. Ven a celebrar con nosotros el día con autor salvadoreño Jorge Argueta.

Para una lista con la dirreción de todas las bibliotecas, por favor visite la página de web de la biblioteca pública de la Nueva Orleáns.

For more information or if you have questions please contact the Latin American Resource Center at or check our Facebook page.

Sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and the New Orleans Public Library.

Photo by Nina Menconi.

Art Syncopation

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The Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival are pleased to present an art exhibit of renowned artist Angel Gonzalez de la Tijera entitled “Art Syncopation.” An opening reception will be held on April 22nd at 6 PM. The exhibit will be on display through May 20th.

Angel Gonzalez de la Tijera is an important Mexican Painter and one of the most significant contributors to contemporary figurative Mexican art. His work primarily focuses on figures and portraits in conjunction with music. His art reveals form and substance in a realistic manner.

Gonzalez de la Tijera was born in Mexico City in 1958. He developed his painting style, figurative realism, as a student of master painter Santiago Carbonell.