Anthony Dest

The Latin American Studies Undergraduate major (LTAM) provides students with the opportunity to master multiple methodological skills and acquire the language competence through which to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the Latin American and Caribbean experience. In preparing students for public and private sector careers, LTAM alumni have gotten jobs in the U.S. State Department in a number of different Latin American countries, transnational companies that operate in the US and Latin America, and in non-profit organizations that work with migrants in the United States.

We had the pleasure of sitting down one of these accomplished alums, Anthony Dest.

Before this National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and former Fulbright Scholar was researching the impacts of violence and development on black, indigenous, and mestizo communities in southwestern Colombia, Dest studied Latin American Studies and Political Science.

As an undergraduate student, Dest studied abroad in Cuba in 2006 when the country was holding peace negotiations between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombia government. Dest wondered why he had not heard about peace talks like this before. Based on initial curiosity, strong interests in learning about the impacts of foreign policy, as well as having personal ties to Colombia, Dest returned to UNC to write his honors thesis about the ELN in Colombia.

Although he knew after graduation he wanted to eventually return to graduate school, Dest was encouraged by his advisers not to rush. Inspired by the advice, Dest pursued and received a Fulbright to study conflict resolution at La Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, with research focusing on social and economic development. He then returned to Colombia and founded the Colombia Land Rights Monitor, which was a project following four communities undergoing land restitution processes. Upon returning to the U.S., Dest started working at the Washington Office on Latin America.

Despite common worries about job outlook or skillset, Dest said the LTAM major prepared him for his experiences thus far.

“Interdisciplinary study has opened my mind in ways that would have been very difficulty had I not been a LTAM major,” Dest said. “I have found that my friends and colleagues have entered into jobs or academic institutions very prepared.”

Now, when he’s not studying Latin American studies as a third year Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin, Dest can be found working a new part of his brain with photography classes.

Many thanks to Anthony for sitting down with us, we look forward to the great things you will do!

About the LTAM Major
The BA in Latin American studies, offered by the Curriculum in Latin American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, is designed to foster intellectual engagement with a region of extraordinary diversity and rich cultural complexity, within an interdisciplinary but integrated framework.

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