UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program


Paul Bancroft
Paul Bancroft was born in Truckee, California and grew up in North Lake Tahoe. He holds an MA in Latin American & Iberian Studies with an emphasis on Adult Literacy. In 2018, Paul helped lead the merging of four long-standing social service organizations — Family Resource Center of Truckee, North Tahoe Family Resource Center, Tahoe SAFE Alliance, and Project MANA —to form Sierra Community House. Paul formerly served as Executive Director of Tahoe SAFE Alliance and has served as the Executive Director of Sierra Community House since its inception.  He has served on the boards of the Chantal Paydar Foundation and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. Paul is currently a Board Trustee for Sierra College. He lives in Kings beach, Ca with his wife and 2 kids.
Jacqueline Bach-y-Rita
Jacqueline Bach-y-Rita has taught both children and adults for 35 years. She has lived in six countries, traveled to five continents and was the liaison between two Spanish Olympic teams and the LAOOCC. After earning her BA and MA in Hispanic Civilization from UCSB, she entered the Teacher Education Program. She holds a CMSTC Authorized Subjects: BCLAD: Spanish, General Subjects, and a CSSTC Authorized Subjects: ELD, Foreign Language Spanish. Her work as an educator and resource teacher includes positions at the Institute for North American Studies in Barcelona, ELP UCSB Extension, and K-6 for California Public Schools. 
Miguel Becerra
Miguel Becerra graduated from LAIS in 2010. Miguel’s MA thesis focused on the portrayals and stereotypes of Afro-Peruvians in the media. This research was the basis for a chapter he authored in the compilation, Converging Identities: Blackness in the Modern African Diaspora. After obtaining his M.A., Miguel graduated with an M.S.W. from UC Berkeley. Miguel is also a musician and has played with different bands in Santa Barbara and the Bay Area. Miguel currently works as a Senior Policy Analyst for Homebase, where he provides technical assistance around homelessness to various communities nationwide.
Mark Boelter
Mark Boelter holds a BA in Political Science and an MA in LAIS from UCSB. During his time in the program, he studied how Chile reconciled after its dictatorship during its bicentennial year. In 2012, Mark began his studies and residency program at CSU Northridge. In 2013, after completing the required state requirements, Mark began working at Chatsworth Charter High School for the Los Angeles Unified School District as a Special Education teacher. He continues at this campus today, teaching social studies classes such as history, government, and economics. At present, Mark is working on his general education credential in social studies at National University. During his free time, he enjoys traveling and SCUBA diving and currently is working on his Divemaster certification.
Jorge Gonzalez Estrella
Jorge Gonzalez grew up in the Bordertown of San Diego and Tijuana. He considers himself a first generation Mexican-American/Chicano/Fronterizo/Border Hybrid. His MA thesis “The (Re)construction of Blackness in Costa Chica, Oaxaca: NGOs and the Making of an Afro-Mexican Ethnic Group” received the 2012 LAIS Prospectus and Best Thesis Award. Jorge also received the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies conference Best Paper Award. In 2013, his essay “Afro-Mexican Queen Pageants: NGOs and the Ethnicization of Blackness from Costa Chica, Oaxaca to Pasadena, CA” was published in the book “Converging identities: Blackness in the modern African diaspora” from the Carolina Academic Press, [2013]. Currently, Jorge volunteers as the director of the Afro-Mexican Department at the Worldbeat Cultural Center and works full-time for environmental justice as the Regional Community and Civic Engagement Organizer at the Environmental Health Coalition in San Diego, CA.
Kirsten Garrison
Kirstin Garrison holds a bachelor’s degree in Film and Digital Media from Baylor University. She graduated from the LAIS program in 2016. Since graduating, Kirstin has been working in Honduras for the Asocación para una Sociedad Más Justa (ASJ), a justice organization that promotes peace, health, education and security in Honduras through research, government auditing, and advocacy. At ASJ, Kirstin has had the privilege of serving as an investigative journalist where she has participated in investigations on government corruption, human rights violations, labor rights, and gang influence, among others. Kirstin currently lives in Tegucigalpa with her husband and two children.
Linda Hall
Linda Jean Hall is an activist cultural anthropologist dedicated to serving the educational needs of future generations. Hall received her doctorate at the University of California Riverside. She also holds three degrees from UCSB in Spanish, Latin American & Iberian Studies, and Anthropology. As a lecturer at UCLA, UCR, and Cal Poly, Dr. Hall specializes in teaching courses in Anthropology, Chicano Studies, and Global Studies focusing on Science and Technological Studies, ethnography, diasporic transnational immigration, and race and ethnicity. Hall’s memoir entitled Three Rivers Crossed is an award winning and official textbook at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Hall is developing the non-profit organization Nneka Initiative that will work with existing campus resources to reduce attrition of historically vulnerable undergraduate and graduate students.
Cheryl Jiménez Frei
Cheryl Jiménez Frei is an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she teaches public history, Latin American history, and world history courses. She completed her doctorate in history at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018, and is currently working on a book manuscript that examines the intersections between politics, identity, memory, monuments, and the built environment in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 1810 to the present.
Mónica Landeros
Mónica Landeros teaches at Merritt College, Contra Costa College, and City College San Francisco where she teaches in the Latin American and Latino/a Studies department as an Adjunct Professor. She teaches courses on the Latin American Diaspora, Latina VOCES, and Latino Workers in the U.S. and Latin America.  
Cari Maes
Cari Maes is a 2004 alumna of LAIS. She earned her Phd from Emory University. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of History at Oregon State University where she also teaches Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her current book project examines the rollout of Brazil’s first nationwide maternal and infant health program. She is also a contributor for Ms. Magazine. She contributed an article based on her LAIS Masters research to a forthcoming edition of the Portuguese Studies Review honoring the life and work of Dr. Frank Dutra (due for release in June)
Zackary McKiernan
Zachary D. McKiernan is a Professor of World History at Cuesta College. Trained as a public historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he worked extensively in the memory field of human rights in Chile and, following, civil rights in Virginia as a faculty member at Hampton University.  He uses publicly engaged scholarship to promote positive social change.  He is proudly supported by a loving spouse and three sons.
Justine Meyr
Justine holds her PhD in Education and an MA in Latin American Studies from UC Santa Barbara.  Her research interests are in educational technology as it applies to second language acquisition.  She began her career as an administrator for UC EAP and Lecturer at the UC Santa Barbara. Her experience working in higher education has developed a passion for novel technologies to be used in educational environments.  She currently works as Director for Letters and Sciences at Make School, a Bay Area based college whose mission is to make computer science more accessible and applicable to a diversity of people and disciplines.
Anil Mukerjee
Anil Mukerjee joined the LAIS program at UCSB in 1998 as it had the reputation of taking a chance on re-entry students. He was a Silicon Valley engineer for ten years and had extensively travelled in South America before returning to graduate school. Professor Dutra was his LAIS thesis advisor and the chair of his history dissertation committee. He joined the department of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point NY after completing his dissertation on Colonial Brazil in 2009 and has taught Latin American and African history to cadets since then.
Jenae Jordan Nott
Jenae Jordan Nott graduated from the LAIS program in 2011 and immediately “U-turned” into the Teacher Credential Program at UCSB. She completed her single subject teaching credential in history in 2012. Her MA in LAIS allows her to provide an invaluable opportunity to her students by allowing her to offer dual enrollment courses. Moreover, Jenae mentions that her MA enables her to incorporate in-depth historical knowledge of Latin American into her World History classes.
Nicole Pacino
Nicole Pacino is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She has an MA in Latin American & Iberian Studies and a Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests are Andean history, revolutions and social movements, the history of medicine and public health, race and racism in historical perspective, gender history, and food history. Her research looks specifically at the expansion of public health programs into the Bolivian countryside after the 1952 National Revolution.
Thelma Patnett
Thelma Patnett Rivera is a third year doctoral student-parent at University of California, Riverside in Anthropology. Thelma’s current project traces the bifurcated relation between Blackness and Indigeneity in the midst of gender, ethnic, and racial struggle in the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Particularly, her project aims to interrogate the intricate and fraught relationship of Black and Indigenous existence marked by our anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and femicidal contemporary world. Her work aims to combine critical ethnographic methods with Black Diaspora Studies, transnational feminist theory, decolonial studies, and Latin American studies to rethink the process of Black and Indigenous women’s articulation of survival and healing.
Steve E. Pent
Steve E. Pent earned his MA in LAIS in 2007. During this time, he worked as an editor for the bilingual newspaper El Timepo, and as a sportscaster for KTAS33 in Santa Maria, CA. In 2016 he published a revised version of his MA thesis, “Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide: Peru’s CPDIT, 1917-1927.” He is currently serving as the Director of Adult Formation and Deacon at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock, Texas.
Amy Rosner
Amy Rosner is an award-winning documentary film editor and director with a passion for social justice and storytelling. She has an MA in Latin American & Iberian Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied the role of documentary film in social movements. She has edited multiple award-winning documentaries, including the 2016 Oscar Shortlisted documentary, The Other Side of Home, as well as the Emmy award-winning documentary series, Wonder Women. As a director, she won numerous awards for the short documentary, Second Assault, a film that explores the trauma sexual assault survivors experience when they are not believed.
Daniel Smith
Daniel Anthony Smith received his MA in 1986 from the LAIS Program after completing his interdisciplinary research in Lima, Peru under the advising of Prof. Víctor Fuentes. Upon graduation, he found a job working for Direct Relief International, a Santa Barbara based non-profit organization, shipping medical supplies to underserved populations around the world. Later, due to his bilingual and bicultural knowledge acquired during his years abroad, he was hired by the same organization as a Program Coordinator for all Latin American medical relief projects, a position he held until his retirement in 2016.
Larisa Veloz
Larisa Veloz is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas, El Paso. She completed an MA in LAIS from UCSB in 2008 and received her doctorate from Georgetown University in 2015. Her research focuses on the history of Mexican migrant families, women and gender and has been supported by the Mellon/IIE Graduate Fellowship for International Study and the Fulbright IIE Garcia Robles Fellowship to Mexico. She is currently completing her manuscript, “Even the Women are Leaving”: Migrants Making Mexican America, 1890-1965. At UTEP she teaches classes on Mexican and Latinx diaspora as well as borderlands history.
William Yankes
William Alexander Yankes traveled much of the Americas as a freelance journalist covering international politics and iconoclastic personalities: an American nun serving in the favelas of Brazil, an man who canoed by himself from South Africa across the Atlantic. Yankes earned a bachelor’s at Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service and a first master’s degree at USC His second master’s, at UCSB, was followed by a PhD from UC Irvine for a work in political philosophy and Latin American literature. As a filmmaker, he is about to launch  feature length documentary on the plight of the indigenous.