CLAS Graduate Students

Stephanie Brandão Carvalho

Ms. Carvalho is a Brazilian-U.S. American who grew up in Somerville, MA right outside of Boston. She graduated from Washington and Lee University with a double major in Romance Languages (Spanish and Portuguese) and Global Politics and a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Latin American and Caribbean Studies appeals to her both because it provides a mirror reflecting who she was and a crystal ball depicting who she can be. As the daughter of Brazilian immigrants, Stephanie quickly found herself involved with ESOL, English for Speakers of Other Languages, serving as a volunteer teaching a Spanish class for the community and translating and later as General Co-Chair of the organization. She holds a special place in her heart for the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, led ESOL service trips to Najayo, Dominican Republic, and spent one year living and working in Santo Domingo as an English (ESL) middle school teacher. At CLAS, Stephanie plans to focus on Latin American Politics.


Haleema Cheek

Ms Cheek was born and raised in Washington, DC in an African-American Muslim household. Growing up in the nation’s capital exposed to her an environment rich in cultural diversity and she began learning Spanish as early as third grade. She began traveling abroad at the age of 6 but at 13 she made her first trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina where her interest and love for Spanish and Latin American culture grew. Since then, Haleema has had the opportunity of visiting Machu Picchu in Peru, studying in Cuenca, Ecuador for a summer, and Santiago, Chile for a semester while attending Spelman College. Upon returning from the semester abroad, Haleema completed her undergraduate honors thesis on the connection between the 1973-1990 Pinochet Dictatorship and the current Chilean Education Conflict. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Spelman College, Haleema will pursue her Master’s in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University and will focus her research on the African Diaspora within Latin America.


Grace Fletcher

Ms. Fletcher is from Houston, Texas. She graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a self-designed major in Latin American Studies and Spanish. At Davidson, she conducted interdisciplinary research in a K’iche’-speaking Maya community in Guatemala, focusing on infant malnutrition and maternal ideas about infant feeding practices. She also spent a semester studying abroad in Arequipa, Peru. After Davidson, she moved to Nashville, where she worked in Vanderbilt’s Dept. of Special Education, managing the day-to-day operations of a intervention research study in Nashville public schools. She has also worked for the Nashville Public Library, doing outreach and early childhood literacy workshops for Latino families. At Vanderbilt, Grace will complete both the MA in Latin American Studies and the Master in Public Health (MPH). She is looking forward to improving her K’iche’ and continuing to explore the intersections of public health and medical anthropology in Latin America.


Kyle Harper

Mr. Harper is a native of Texas having grown up in both Houston and Galveston. Since a child he has had a deep passion for Latin America, traveling with his family throughout Mexico and Central America. After high school, Kyle traveled extensively throughout South America and became fascinated with the various cultures of the Amazon.On one particular trip to Brazil, he met several researchers from the University of São Paulo, who were using their findings to help traditional communities in their fight against developmentalist agendas. Inspired by this form of academic activism, Kyle returned to school and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a major in anthropology and a minor in Portuguese. His studies at UT Austin focused primarily on the cultures and land rights issues of traditional communities in the Brazilian Amazon. For his undergraduate honors thesis, Kyle wrote about the effects development and dislocation are having on traditional riparian communities in the Brazilian state of Pará, and how these groups are resisting the inequalities being created by the Brazilian State’s push to build hydroelectric mega dams on Amazonian tributaries.At Vanderbilt, Kyle hopes to build upon his experiences and research in Brazil, in order to better understand the possibilities within activist research. Kyle plans to graduate with an MA in Latin American Studies with an emphasis on cultural anthropology.


Tara Kingsley

Ms Kingsley of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, attended Providence College where, engaging a lifelong passion for languages and culture, she pursued a double major in Spanish and French, graduating cum laude from the college’s Liberal Arts Honors program in 2012. Tara applied her language study by serving as a volunteer ESL tutor during her four years of college and as a translator for Haitian immigrants seeking Temporary Protected Status after the 2010 earthquake. During her senior year, Tara spent a semester abroad in Rabat, Morocco, where she studied French and Arabic and crystallized her interest in language contact. Tara spent the past two years as a teacher at the Louverture Cleary School, a tuition-free, secondary boarding school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she taught Spanish to seventh- and eighth-graders and French to neighborhood children in an early childhood education program hosted at the school. Living in the school’s multilingual community, where Kreyòl, English, Spanish and French were spoken and taught, Tara further explored her interest in language contact, language policy and indigenous language rights. Through CLAS, Tara plans to learn K’iche’ and study the interplay of education and language policy in Latin America.


Elizabeth Lopez

Ms Lopez is a second-generation immigrant, Xicana daughter to two Mexican parents. Born and raised on the Southwest side of Chicago, she graduated from Ursinus College with majors in Spanish & Inequality Studies. Her first passions were the experiences of immigrants, economic disparities and reproductive justice. In high school she was one of the founding youth organizers for the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health’s (ICAH) School of Justice empowering young people to become agents of change. Throughout college she served the community as a Bonner Leader and Kemper Scholar, completing internships at the Center for Community Arts Partnerships and the Illinois Latino Family Commission. Her interests lie in acquiring the education necessary to serve in providing recognition for and helping members of marginalized communities to empower themselves.