Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Michael Murray, '10

Research Associate, FSG (Foundation Strategy Group)

Since graduating from Tulane Michael has held a variety of jobs. He worked as Research Assistant to Tulane professor Nora Lustig, as a cook/server in a pizza kitchen, and as HR Administrative Assistant at FSG (Foundation Strategy Group). He is currently Research Associate at FSG, where he is currently staffed on a project working to develop a shared value strategy (community development) for a mining company in Peru.
Michael’s time at Tulane prepared him for life in the real world…

Why did you choose to major in Latin American Studies?
The main reason I chose to pursue a major in Latin American studies was my interest in the region – it‘€™s culture, history, economics, society, etc. Most of what I knew about Latin America before college was from Spanish and world history classes in high school, and I wanted to learn more. I also wanted to continue studying Spanish, and studying Latin America provided many opportunities to apply my developing Spanish language skills. Additionally, I was attracted to the major because of its interdisciplinary nature. I was able to focus on the topics that were of greatest interest to me and take classes across departments, a freedom most majors don‘€™t offer. Latin American Studies complements most other courses of study well – in my case, a major in Economics and a minor in Spanish.

How has your background in LAST helped you since graduation?
First and foremost, the critical thinking, research, and writing skills that I honed during my time in LAST are the most transferable skills one can build for a career after graduation. Everything in college involving research, writing, presenting, and general critical thinking was relevant for my current position as a Research Associate at FSG. I am staffed on a project focusing largely on community development in Peru, so coursework related to the history, society, and economics of Latin America has been relevant as well, along with my minor in Spanish. My job is about problem-solving, which is not a skill that can be taught in one class or using one methodology. LAST is a great liberal arts major that helped me develop a broad understanding of how to approach problem-solving around social issues.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently as a LAST major?
I would have started looking for a job sooner and looked for internships through the lens of getting my foot in the door at an organization I hoped to land a job with. This means looking for jobs starting the summer before senior year, or that fall at the latest. I completely missed the campus recruiting cycle, which is the only way to get hired as an undergrad with no work experience at some organizations. Internships are also a great way to get a job, either through returning to the organization you interned for, or at least by having good internships on your resume. However, this is all easier said than done, as I remember having no idea what kind of job I wanted that early in my college career.
Also, not something that I would have done differently, but I think it was important to have multiple majors; I even wish I had picked up another minor. Many of the opportunities I‘€™ve come across are looking for folks with a mix of different skills and knowledge, and it‘€™s great if you can offer a unique blend. You also have more options down the road if your interests change or evolve.

Any words of wisdom for LAST undergraduates?
Take full advantage of what Tulane and LAST have to offer – you won‘€™t have access to these resources and opportunities after you graduate! Study abroad if you can, go to guest lectures, apply for fellowships, participate in clubs and other extracurricular activities, etc. It‘€™s great to pad your resume with extras, but even more important, you‘€™ll learn a lot, and you never know when you might make a new contact or discover an exciting opportunity. When it comes time to answer tough questions in a job interview, you‘€™ll have a wealth of experience to draw from.

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Upcoming Events

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.