BSP Alumni Q&A – Viviana Gentry Fernandez-Pellon

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Hometown: Chicago, IL

School: Oberlin College

BSP Year: Spring 2009

–        What role did the Border Studies Program play in your undergraduate education?

My semester with BSP was by far my best semester of college if not my formal education thus far. By participating earlier on in my college career, it allowed me to focus my studies on what I am passionate about. My education with BSP was thorough enough that once I returned to campus, I was able to teach a class on the subject matter.

–          What have you been up to post-graduation and how did the BSP help prepare you for these experiences?

After leaving college, I became a farmer and later a human rights accompanier in Guatemala with NISGUA. I don’t think the latter would have been possible without my experiences with BSP. Not only was I introduced to NISGUA through BSP, but the program also familiarized me with many of the skills needed to manage such complicated and intense work. I have since returned to the US and maintain a relationship with NISGUA while running an environmental justice and community garden organization I founded 2 years ago on Chicago’s Southside.

–          Is there anything in particular you would like to share with undergraduate students considering the Border Studies Program?

This program is a life-changer, plain and simple. The way the material is approached and incorporated into experiential learning was the most practical way of learning I’ve encountered. It was my favorite semester of college.