Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Natalie Ferrell, '06, MPH '12

Youth Development Promotor for Peace Corps, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


(Natalie describes this picture: My coordinating committee and I at the close of the 2012 National At-Risk Youth Conference we organized, which brought together 30 local, national and international NGOs working with vulnerable children and youth in the Dominican Republic.)

After graduating from Tulane with a double major in Latin American Studies and International Development, Natalie simultaneously taught volunteered for Teach for America and pursued an MS in Bilingual eduaction at Pace University. While serving in Teach for America, Natalie taught ESL/bilingual Science at a middle school for new immigrants in New York. She then returned to New Orleans for an MPH in International Health and Development from Tulane, during which time she also worked as a Spanish Immersion Teacher and as an Intervention Specialist, mentoring and evaluating new teachers in the teach NOLA program, the New Orleans component of The New Teacher Project. Natalie is currently a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She directs the Peace Corps-wide initiative “Escojo Enseñar,” a comprehensive teacher-training initiative comrpised of conferences, manual, and videos to be implemented with teachers cross the country. She also works on capacity building initiatives with a child’s rights NGO that works on behalf of exploited youth.

Natalie reflects on her experience at Tulane…

Why did you choose to major in Latin American Studies?
Being from Texas, I have always been fascinated by Tex-Mex traditions that were a part of my upbringing. When I was in high school, I did a program called Amigos de las Americas (sort of like a mini-Peace Corps) that sent me to live and work in a rural area of Oaxaca, Mexico for a summer. This experience impacted me greatly and piqued my interest in the region in general. I also knew that I wanted an interdisciplinary experience where I could take classes across different areas of study, and that Tulane had one of the most well respected and well funded LAST programs in the country. So, I knew I would be taking advantage of the best of what Tulane had to offer!

How has your background in LAST helped you since graduation?
All of my work experiences since graduation have involved either working with Latino populations in the States or working abroad in Latin America. The broad background I gained on the region through LAST was invaluable in each of these settings. My LAST classes also gave me a solid base in history and geopolitical structures that have allowed me to engage more thoughtfully with current events. I often take for granted this perspective, but recognize that, had I chosen to major in business, for example, I would likely not have the acute awareness of the world around me that my LAST education provided. All of my coursework in Latin American Studies and International Development were great preparation for being a Peace Corps volunteer. My job with Peace Corps gives me a chance to see how theory plays out in real world situations.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently as a LAST major?
I am very satisfied with the way my Latin American Studies major played out.  I took a nice variety of courses, co-majored in International Development (which provided an interesting perspective), and took advantage of the excellent faculty and resources that the Latin American Studies program had to offer. I would have liked to take a Latin American history course, but at the time was scared off by the amount of reading!

Any words of wisdom for LAST undergraduates?
My perspective on my undergraduate years has changed with masters’ degrees and work experience under my belt. I truly believe that your undergraduate years are about finding something you are passionate about and learning to think critically. You will, in all likelihood (and especially in today’s economy) have to get a master’s degree regardless. You can worry about applying your generalist experience to more specific career paths then (or double major with a more specific discipline such as Spanish, International Development, history, etc). Focus on finding classes that really interest you across all disciplines (art, history, music, culture, etc), where you’ll be excited to do the work. This was my approach, and I had an unforgettable learning experience in Latin American Studies at Tulane.


(Of this picture, Natalie writes: My “Chicas Brillantes” and I at their graduation in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic – Chicas Brillantes is a Peace Corps girls empowerment program that aims to increase self-esteem in young girls and therefore reduce violence against women.)

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Speaker Series; Sept 20 at noon: Does Political Representation Increase Participation? Evidence from Party Candidate Lotteries in Mexico

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Does Political Representation Increase Participation?
Evidence from Party Candidate Lotteries in Mexico
By: Dr. Mathias Poertner

The first in our 2021 Fall Series: Political Accountability and Representation of the Excluded in Latin America

Monday, September 20th at noon on Zoom
Registration Required here

For a one-on-one meeting with Dr. Poertner, contact Post-Doctoral Fellow Jared Abbott

Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Hosted by expert instructor Mtro. Byron Socorec (aka Oxlajuj B’atz’), the Sept. 23 session will focus on where we come from. Bring a picture of a special place and come ready to describe your hometown.

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

Qué Vola, Nola? - Live Book Reading!

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Join us for a live bilingual reading of their book Qué Vola, Nola?. From the vibrant jazz scenes and Spanish-colonial architecture to the food and weather, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Havana, Cuba, have much in common. And they are both home to anole lizards who love jazz! After a jazz song lures Ramito through a hotel window in Havana, he crawls into in a convenient, comfy suitcase for a nap. When he awakens, Ramito can’t quite find the way back to his tree. His new friend Bernard, an American anole lizard, unsuccessfully tries to convince Ramito that he’s in New Orleans. Is he? Readers of all ages will find the lush, tropical illustrations and the frustrated refrain of “but that is something we have in Havana” endlessly entertaining. In fact, they just might agree that the cities, and their inhabitants, share a lot! We are honored to welcome local author, Abigail Isaacoff and illustrator originally from Cuba, Ramiro Díaz for a bilingual story time at both Pebbles Center locations. Check below and make sure to join us at one of these events. Families will explore this unique story and learn to create their own craft based on the book.

Saturday September 18 at 2 pm
Algiers Regional Library
3014 Holiday Drive

Saturday, September 25 at 1 pm
Children’s Resource Center
913 Napoleon Avenue

This event is a program of the Pebbles Center which is a collaborative project of the New Orleans Public Library and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. Please follow us on Facebook for up-to-date information on these programs. For more information, email crcrts@tulane.edu.

Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Hosted by expert instructor Mtro. Gonzalo Ticun (aka Sotz Aq’ab’al), the Oct. 8 session will focus on the creatures that share our homes and lives. Bring your favorite animal friend to join the discussion.

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Participants in the Oct. 28 session will get the chance to read the short story “Ri töp chuqa’ ri kär”/“The Crab and the Fish” alongside its author, Mtra. Magda Sotz (aka Ixkamey).

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Nov. 12 is game day with Mtro. Edy Rene Guaján (aka Lajuj B’atz’)! Come prepared to play along and laugh.

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.