Hispanic Studies Open House Offers Students Glimpses at Life after Graduation

Program Welcomes Alumni to Share their Experiences with Students during Homecoming Weekend Gathering

Hartford, Connecticut, November 19, 2015 – The Trinity College Hispanic studies program welcomed alumni and students to its first ever open house event on Friday, November 13, during Homecoming Weekend. Several alumni who majored in Hispanic Studies gathered with current Trinity students in Hallden Hall to discuss how the program has impacted their postgraduate lives.

Alumni Katherin Quinn '13, Isis Irizarry '10, Katherin Poulos '13, Michael Schlesigner '12, and Bryan Mucke '12 share their own postgraduate experiences with an audience of Trinity students at the Hispanic Studies Open House on November 13.  Photo by Diana Guay Photography
Alumni from the Class of 2010 through the Class of 2015 were in attendance. Bryan Mucke ’12 recounted his experience managing sales accounts in Latin America for a German company located in Connecticut, and how Hispanic studies has helped him achieve promotions due to his Spanish language skills.

Michael Schlesinger ’12 found Spanish to be useful as well, but for him this became apparent during his Teach for America experience, which led to his position as a Spanish teacher at Hartford’s Capitol Prep, where he currently works.

Katherine (Katie) Quinn ’13 is currently pursuing a master’s degree in international studies with a concentration in Latin American and Latino studies and human rights at the University of Connecticut.

Two of the students, Katherine (Kat) Poulos ’13 and Isis Irizarry ’10, attended law school after graduating from Trinity. Poulos has graduated law school, passed the New York bar exam, and is currently looking for work in immigration law, where her Spanish abilities have allowed her to flourish. Her interest in this field stems from a previous experience in working with Hofstra’s Youth Advocacy Clinic. “I represented mostly immigrant children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in their family court proceedings as well as in their immigration matters,” she said. “One of the most rewarding experiences I have had to date is successfully petitioning for my client’s green card.”

Trinity alumna Isis Irizarry '10 talks about her law school experience with a Trinity student during the November 13 Hispanic Studies Open House. Photo by Diana Guay Photography​
Irizarry is in the process of finishing law school and preparing to take the bar exam. She shared that her experience in the Hartford mayor’s office would not have happened without her Hispanic studies major. “Because of [the Hispanic studies major] and being at Trinity, I developed a relationship with the [Hartford] community,” she said, “which made me an ideal candidate [for working at the mayor’s office].” She added that courses in the program allowed her to really build up her analytical and critical thinking skills. She fondly recalled the course “Hispanic Hartford,” which allowed her to develop a connection with the Hartford community. 

Current majors and minors in Hispanic studies were also present to share their experiences and perspective on the discipline. Jennifer Idrovo ’16, a Hispanic studies minor, said, “As a Spanish speaker I learned a lot about my culture … and it has gotten me closer to that part of myself.” She has found that the literature and cultural awareness brought forth from the Hispanic studies program has really stood out to her.

Similarly, Katherine Gagen ’16, a Hispanic studies major, said that the department “really encouraged [students] to go abroad, and [that’s] a great learning experience … It teaches you how to be independent.”

As of now, the Hispanic studies program is home to 27 majors and 17 minors, according to Anne Lambright, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Language and Culture Studies, who helped to organize the open house. With 40 percent of the Hartford population being Hispanic, and the Unites States officially becoming the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, these numbers are expected to increase.

For more information about the Hispanic studies major or minor, contact Lambright at Anne.Lambright@trincoll.edu.

To view more photos from the open house, click here.

Written by Ana Medina ’16