Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Gabriella LaRocca, '09

blueEnergy, Bluefields, Nicaragua

Gabriella working for blueEnergy in Nicaragua distributing an efficient stove.

Immediately after graduating from Tulane in 2009, Gabriella pursued a Masters degree through Tulane‘€™s cooperative accelerated one-year Masters program with Georgetown University. After completing her degree, Gabriella moved to Nicaragua to reconnect with her roots (her mother is from Nicaragua) and began working as the International Human Resources Coordinator for blueEnergy, a small international NGO that works to provide renewable energy and water and sanitation services to the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. blueEnergy provides communities with environmentally efficient devices, practical instruction and other resources, including wind turbines, efficient stoves, water filters, wells, hybrid solar panel installations, and solar latrines and freezers. She recently left her position with blueEnergy to teach English in Bilbao, Spain.

Gabriella talks about Tulane and the impact of her LAST degree…

Why did you choose to major in Latin American Studies?
I was first exposed to Latin American Studies during my freshman year Katrina semester at University of Virginia. My Latin American courses at Tulane were the only ones that I actually got excited about and were filled with people that were passionate about the same things as me! My attraction to LAST draws largely from my personal background‘€“my mother is from Nicaragua and my parents spent several years in Central America. I was drawn to the multi-disciplinary nature of the degree because it allowed me to pursue my various interests in the region, specifically music, sociology, and development. I was also an active member of Model OAS and TULASO.

How has your background in LAST helped you since graduation?
I have found my degree in Latin American Studies very useful since graduation. Immediately after graduating, I began a Masters in Latin American Studies in the 5 year Cooperative Program at Georgetown University. This program allowed me to combine my undergraduate studies at Tulane with one rigorous and accelerated year at Georgetown concentrating on development in Latin America, specifically in Afro-descendent communities. The coursework was challenging yet rewarding and included a summer of research in Santiago, Chile.

After completing my Masters, I traveled to the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua to get know my family in the region. A short trip turned into a year where I volunteered and worked in various organizations in Bluefields, the capital of the South Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua. Highlights included helping the Creole (Afro-descendent) Communal Government develop a strategy to return communal land to Creoles, teaching Standard English at the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University, dancing with my neighborhood Carnaval team, and a full time job as International Human Resources Coordinator for blueEnergy. I started on the water and sanitation team at blueEnergy, then developed a pilot project to distribute efficient stoves, and am currently in charge of international volunteer recruitment and on the ground orientation, supervision, and well-being. I will finish with blueEnergy in the next few weeks and then will teach English in Bilbao, Spain, where I have moved to be with my boyfriend (he was also volunteering in Nicaragua).

In hindsight, what would you have done differently as a LAST major?
There is not much I would have done differently as a LAST major other than really appreciate the Capstone and the graduate level classes. They were a great preparation for my experiences in Georgetown and so full of information that I wish I had put more energy into getting as much out of them as possible.

Any words of wisdom for LAST undergraduates?
Tulane has a really outstanding Latin American Studies department with many useful resources and amazing professors: take advantage and enjoy it.






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Upcoming Events

Central America: People and the Environment Asynchronous Institute

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Register now for the ASYNCHRONOUS COURSE which opens up in July
Please note, the synchronous blended institute taking place June 14 – 25 is no longer accepting registrants.

This summer educator institute is the third institute in a series being offered by Tulane University, The University of Georgia and Vanderbilt University. This series of institutes is designed to enhance the presence of Central America in the K-12 classroom. Each year, participants engage with presenters, resources and other K-12 colleagues to explore diverse topics in Central America with a focus on people and the environment. It is not required to have participated in past institutes to join us.

The Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University is excited to host and coordinate this year’s institute. Tulane University and New Orleans are both unique and important places to explore the deep connections to Central America with a focus on people and environment. With presentations by leading historians and sociologists on Central America, environment and race we are excited to share the work and resources from presenters as well as the unique resources at Tulane.


NOW REGISTERING FOR THE ASYNCHRONOUS INSTITUTE For more information, please email or call 504.865.5164. Space is limited.