LTAM Alumni Spotlight: Ian Smith-Overman

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Ian Smith-Overman

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.

Last week got to know Shaw Drake, and this week we’re pleased to sit down with Ian Smith-Overman.

Smith-Overman is in his fifth year of teaching high school social studies at a public school in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Before he entered the classroom, Smith-Overman was an AmeriCorps tutor with Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate, which grew his interest in education equity, and served as an interpreter in Nicaragua on an ecotourism coffee farm.

As an undergraduate student, Smith-Overman knew he wanted to study topics about Latin America and found the Latin American Studies Major (LTAM) to align with these interests. He said the range of courses, which include sociology, political science, economics, anthropology, and literature, gave him a broad foundation for an interesting region of the world.

“I felt like the program was small enough where people were looking out for me, but large enough to offer much bigger opportunities” Smith-Overman said.

When he’s not teaching, you can find Smith-Overman riding his bike or skiing.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Ian! We look forward to the great things you will do.

 

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Latin American Studies Alumni Spotlight: Shaw Drake

B. Shaw Drake Headshot

Shaw Drake, UNC ’10

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, Shaw Drake.

When he’s not being published in the New York TimesHuffington Post, or JURIST , Shaw Drake, UNC ’10, works as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Human Rights First in New York City, NY. The Georgetown University Law Center graduate has experiences ranging from conducting legal research on surveillance of human rights lawyers in Colombia, studying judicial independence in Guatemala, serving as a Military Commission observer in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, supporting survivors of torture from over 90 countries in accessing legal, psychological, and medical services at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, as well as conducting an extensive fact-finding project regarding stateless children’s access to education in the Dominican Republic.

Having grown up in Greensboro, NC, Drake experienced an initial interest in migration after working with refugee families and going on a trip to Guanajuato, Mexico. When he came to UNC, Drake found the Latin American Studies major as a good fit for his interests.

“The major is a balance of being small and involved in the community, but broad enough to also be involved in bigger opportunities,” said Drake.

One of those bigger opportunities was Drake’s junior year spring break when he had the chance to work with No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization recommended to him by Latino Migration Project Director Dr. Hannah Gill. Drake was so impacted by the experience that upon returning, he changed the topic of his honors thesis to write about the U.S. border enforcement strategy and human rights on the Arizona-Mexico border.

A double major in LTAM and Romance Languages, which is common for the majority of Latin American Studies majors, Drake said being an LTAM major gives students an opportunity to look at a dynamic part of the world from historical, political, and human rights perspectives, and teaches students ways to critically examine future challenges.

“[The LTAM major] gives you the latitude to pursue interests and encourages you to take on a wide variety of disciplines,” said Drake. “Take it on and view it as an opportunity to examine a dynamic and amazing part of our world.”

Many thanks to Shaw Drake for sitting down with us, we look forward to the great things he will continue to 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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