Why I Majored in Latin American Studies

Isis Murillo Bravo ’25

I transferred to Pomona College knowing I wanted to study something that would uplift my community; I was unsure of how I would do it, but I had a clear goal. As I was searching for classes, I came across a few Latin American studies classes and immediately fell in love. Never did I imagine that I could attend a U.S. university and learn about my home country, and the rest of Latin America, in such an insightful way.

As an immigrant, I cherish the opportunity to learn about aspects of Latin American history that, from my own experience, is not even taught in Latin American schools. This major also helped me recognize that in order to best serve my community, it is paramount that I take the time to learn and understand its history, politics, policies, economics, etc.

One thing you are guaranteed to earn from this major is endless curiosity and a longing for more knowledge. Since most of the classes usually cover many Latin American and Caribbean countries—as well their relationship to countries outside of this realm like Spain, the United States or Russia—it is impossible to not be left with more questions, to not want to go to office hours and talk to professors or to come up with ideas for your thesis.

As a result of this endless curiosity and many conversations with amazing professors, I developed an interest for academic research. My conversations with professors, as well as what I learned in class, combined with my personal experiences and interests, pushed me to pursue research on gender and sexuality in 20th Century and modern Latin America, with a special interest in Perú.

At Pomona, I have worked on two projects: "Mexican Women After Independence: A Study of Catholicism Within Secular Policies" and "Is Sexual Pleasure a Human Right? An Important Gap in the Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Peruvian Women." Last summer, I completed a Summer Research Opportunity Program at Northwestern University and completed a project titled "Subtle Feminism: The Defiance of the First South American Female Physicians."

In the future, I will continue to study the relationship between the government and religion in shaping sexual health policies that continue to uphold patriarchal values and control women's bodies. My goal is to propel a shift towards the recognition of sexual pleasure as a sexual and reproductive right considering Latin America's specific historical and sociocultural conditions. Ultimately, I want to use my research to explore new avenues to improve women's sexual health and overall well-being.