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Undergraduate Spotlight: Alexandra Stano

Published: Wednesday, 17 Jan 2018
Author: Joy M Whitten
Department: Latin American Studies Center

Alexandra Stano is an Honors College senior majoring in comparative cultures and politics in James Madison College and Spanish in the College of Arts & Letters and double minoring in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and International Development. 

Stano is a recipient of the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) for the 2017-2018 academic year, awarded by the Center for Advanced Study in International Development and the Center for Gender in Global Context. The funding is provided by the US Department of Education to meet the critical needs for specialists in US education, government, and other services of a public and/or professional nature who will utilize their skills in training others and in developing a wider knowledge and understanding of other countries and cultures. 

As a FLAS Fellow, she will continue to study advanced Spanish and development in Latin America, while narrowing her focus on the role women play in the social and economic growth of the region.  She was also recently selected as one of five MSU nominees for the Marshall Scholarship, awarded to 40 top undergraduates across the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom.

Alexandra explains how her multiple thematic pursuits have deepened across her time at MSU through a range of multidisciplinary courses, community engagement, and experiential learning opportunities:
One of the most impactful experiences in my life was last summer when I worked and studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For ten weeks, I interned at the Argentine chapter of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. I was tasked with researching the land rights of indigenous people in Latin America. I used the International Labor Organization's Convention 169 as my focus and wrote an extensive report in Spanish on the 14 countries in Latin America that implemented the convention. I investigated domestic and regional court cases dealing with land disputes between indigenous communities and other actors. This internship taught me yet another aspect/challenge of development in Latin America. The region has an abundance of natural resources, but has faced problems with trying to use them and ensure the rights of their citizens at the same time. My time in Argentina was invaluable. Fully immersing myself in a Spanish-speaking environment reminded me of how much I love Latin America and the people. In the future, I hope to work in a job where I can help create solutions to these developmental and societal issues.

I am most grateful for during my time at Michigan State has been figuring out my interests and narrowing down what it is I want to do after I graduate. Through my classes, volunteer experiences, extracurricular activities, and international internship, I have discovered my love for communicating in Spanish and working with different cultures, communities, and individuals. Once I graduate, I look forward to using all the skills and experiences I gathered to pursue a life-long career in Latin America where I can help bring resources and opportunities to areas and people who are otherwise left unheard.