We are pleased to announce the department awards to graduating Spanish Majors. Our warm congratulations to the recipients and to all our graduates.
HISPANIC STUDIES DEPARTMENT DISTINCTION:
THE CLARA ESTOW PRIZE
A renowned scholar in Castilian Medieval history, Professor Clara Estow dedicated four decades of her life to UMass Boston and the Department of Hispanic Studies (1968-2008). During that time, Professor Estow gathered accolades for her inspiring teaching, her generous mentoring of junior faculty, her scholarly rigor, and her dedication to improving public education in Massachusetts. Her teaching effectiveness and her capacity for mentoring were proverbial. She inspired many students to become teachers and scholars. She showed an extraordinary teaching range and flexibility. Her accomplishments in scholarship were equally outstanding. Professor Estow authored several widely respected books in her field as well as dozens of articles and essays on a number of topics. Professor Estow was repeatedly selected by her peers to represent them on the campus’s most significant committees and governance structures. She was UMass Boston’s first Hispanic to lead the University Faculty Council.
In gratitude for Professor Estow’s tireless, generous, and inspiring academic work on behalf of UMass Boston, her colleagues, upon her retirement, established a prize in her honor. The Clara Estow Prize is awarded to a junior or a graduating senior who has shown excellence, determination, and inspiration in their academic work in Hispanic Studies.
Paulo Murta is an extraordinary gifted young man. He speaks, reads and writes, with ease, in English, Spanish and Portuguese. He writes beautifully, speaks without a trace of an accent, can read anything (including 16th century Spanish novels) and is a wonderful translator and interpreter.
Paulo was born in Brazil and immigrated to the United States at the age of 11. He grew up in West Yarmouth on Cape Cod and attended Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School. He got his Associate degree at Cape Cod Community College, and transferred to UMass Boston in 2010 with a Chancellor’s Scholarship. In just two years he finished his Bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a phenomenal 4.00 GPA, while holding a full time job.
His superb linguistic abilities are not his only ones. Paulo possesses even a rarer gift. Indeed, it is his determination to try to understand the world in all its complexities and to improve it that compels his classmates and instructors alike to admire this young man’s quixotic quest and to root for him.
THE MARIA-LUISA OSORIO PRIZE IN HISPANIC STUDIES
The María-Luisa Osorio Prize is named in recognition of the many contributions of María-Luisa Osorio, a colleague now retired, who taught in the Hispanic Studies Department from 1967 to 1995. One of Professor Osorio’s most passionate academic interests was the role of women in Spanish society; more specifically, the images of women in Spanish literature.
Grateful for her wise and dedicated leadership, her colleagues, upon her retirement, established this prize in her honor, to be awarded to a graduating Spanish major who has written an outstanding paper on the topic of women in Spanish-language literatures or who has demonstrated academic excellence and an active interest in promoting a greater understanding of the role of women in the Spanish-speaking world.
We honor Addie LeBoeuf as co-recipient of the María Luisa Osorio Award for her superior academic work, with a special focus to the role of women in Latin America. Addie initially had no plans to major in Spanish. However, after taking one course in the Hispanic Studies Department, she decided to double major in Psychology and Spanish. And after “falling in love with some literature courses,” she selected the literature track. Her involvement with the Spanish major has given her the opportunity, she says, not only to “improve [her] language skills, but to also deepen [her] understanding and appreciation of Spanish and Latin American Culture through many great literary works.” In the spring of 2010 Addie participated in the first Undergraduate Colloquium on Latin American Studies at UMass Lowell, where she presented a paper on Teatro Abierto, the theatrical group active in Argentina during the military dictatorship (1976-1983). She subsequently spent a semester abroad in Argentina, where she studied at the Pontificia Universidad Católica while conducting research for her honors thesis. In December 2011, Addie defended her outstanding thesis – written in Spanish — on the experience of exile, in particular of women writers, during the military dictatorship.
We honor Angela Spignese as co-recipient of the María Luisa Osorio Prize for 2012. When Angela, a skillful salsa dancer and a passionate student of music, came to UMB from Boston University, she decided to connect her love for music with the study of literature, gender relations, dance and community building in Latin America. Angela became fascinated with the courses of the Spanish Major, where many of her classmates could relate first hand to events that took place in their homelands. The research and presentations she has done connecting themes of music and the role of women in Latin American and Spanish culture have prepared her for her next academic endeavor in Cali, Colombia, where she intends to study how women in this patriarchal society negotiate their power as salsa dancers, choreographers and teachers. Angela sees salsa dancing as an art form that could contribute to social change in specific communities and could also deal with issues relevant to conflict resolution and other types of structural social problems such as domestic violence and political repression. Today, we celebrate her personal and academic achievements.
THE SUSAN C. SCHNEIDER MEMORIAL PRIZE IN LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES
Susan C. Schneider was a tenured member of the History Department with a specialty in Latin America and Portugal. She came to the University in 1969 after receiving her doctorate from the University of Texas. She helped establish the Latin American Studies Program at UMass Boston, and in 1976 became its second director, a position she held for almost a decade. Under her stewardship the Program flourished, attracting to the University internationally renowned speakers from all over Latin America. Professor Schneider’s commitment to social justice went well beyond academia to active engagement in providing technical assistance to various centers of learning. Professor Schneider was an ardent advocate for students in and out of the classroom. By her vision and commitment, she inspired many other students to pursue graduate studies, facilitating their acceptance to prestigious institutions. Professor Schneider’s untimely death in 1987 was a loss to the whole community. This award honors her memory by recognizing a student in Latin American Studies who combines academic excellence with social conscience.
Matthew Chuckran is co-recipient of the Susan C. Schneider prize in Latin American Studies, awarded to graduating seniors in the Latin American Studies Program for their academic excellence and commitment to social justice. When Matt returned to college in 2008, he says that he viewed his education as a “necessary evil,” something he needed to finish in order to have more control over his career options. Now he credits his courses in Latin American Studies with opening his mind to the value of a college education. He writes that his focus on Latin America “started as a somewhat wandering interest in a region that produced my favorite baseball players.” As he has pursued his studies, however, this interest matured into “a passion” for involvement in the “issues and challenges of a rapidly changing world.” Most importantly, Matt’s studies of Latin America have brought his career path into focus. Motivated by a genuine commitment to social justice, he volunteers for Cultural Survival, an organization dedicated to indigenous rights, and envisions postgraduate study that would combine his interests in Latin America and social justice.
Audy Ramirez is co-recipient of the Susan C. Schneider Prize in Latin American Studies, awarded to graduating seniors in the Latin American Studies Program for their academic excellence and commitment to social justice. Audy exemplifies both qualities. He has sustained an outstanding record of achievement in this program. He is also acutely aware of Latin America’s history of inequality but optimistic about its economic and political potential. Audy arrived in the United States as an immigrant at age 14: as a student he felt compelled to expand his knowledge of the region, not only to gain perspective on his native culture, but also as the “basis for a more profound interaction with it.” He opted to add the Latin American Studies program to his already-ambitious major in Political Science. Audy credits the Latin American Studies program with enhancing his understanding of the region and to motivating his decision to apply to graduate school. He asserts that “This rigorous and in depth program” gave him the opportunity to develop the “intellectual and academic tools” to continue his studies of the region.