LAS Alumni Stefanie Babb
October 31, 2019
Stefanie Babb graduated from UCF in December 2018, with a BA in History, a BA in Latin American Studies, and a minor in Spanish. She currently works as a technical writer for a software development company in St. Petersburg, Florida. Here is what Stefanie had to say about her Latin American Studies BA:
“If I could write an email to my past self, when first embarking on my Latin American Studies degree, I’d tell myself that I would be surprised at the opportunities I would gain from this degree. Back then, the program looked kind of small, and I didn’t understand it well at first, but now I see that Latin American Studies put me in the places I needed to be in order to chart the path toward my future.
It is a unique major that allows you to stand out. In fact, when I was on the job market, it was one of the first things that interviewers asked me about. Prospective employers wanted to know more about what I studied and what I could do, so the inevitable questions about Latin American Studies gave me a great opportunity to showcase what I had learned.
Growing up, I had a relatively good understanding of Latin America, albeit limited. My mother’s side of the family is Cuban, so I knew something about Cuban history and culture, but it was eye-opening to see the uniqueness and similarities of other Latin American cultures and countries. In the Latin American Studies BA, I learned how unique every country is but also how similarly their histories had affected them and connect them.
Before I went deeper into Latin American Studies, I had been so focused on History, on past events, but my Latin American Studies courses offered a good mix of past and present. I gained a clear understanding of how history affects our current events: what is happening now and why. Adding Latin American Studies paired well with History and broadened my worldview. Historians look at facts from the past and sometimes consider what those facts might do, but Latin American Studies drew me in and allowed me to perceive why certain things are the way they are.
Dr. Consuelo Stebbins was one of my most memorable professors. She alerted me to UCF’s unique internship opportunity to teach English in Cusco, Peru, as part of my Latin American Studies capstone. My students in the Peruvian Andes ranged from middle school to graduate school. I helped them prepare to take the TOEFL to study in the United States. The experience enabled me to see what groups I work best with, and how this might fit into what I want to do in the future. I landed my current job partly due to my experience teaching in Cusco. Although the connection might not be immediately apparent, I am, in effect, teaching people how to use particular products by means of clear, explanatory writing.
To cite a more practically applicable point, in one of my Latin American Studies classes we had to do video editing, creating a video about a Latin American country. At the time, I thought the task was irrelevant and daunting. I had some experience with photography and photo editing, but I hadn’t done things like voice overs and video. But in my current job, I’m able to do video editing as well. The class assignment translated well into my job.
Latin American Studies made me more aware of international issues, even beyond Latin America. It equipped me with valuable perspectives on how my local volunteer efforts can have international impact. Today I volunteer locally with the Village of Mary Children’s Foundation, using my web development and marketing skills to help orphans in Uganda.
I always found a support system within Latin American Studies, and I always felt listened to and understood. Every professor I had seemed to be looking forward to my future with me, helping me to get on the best path for my learning and my career.”