Valencia Laws

Position title: Class of 2012 Alumna

After graduating from LACIS, I worked as a line therapist doing ABA therapy for children with autism in Milwaukee. In the Fall of 2014, I received an internship at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. While at the Smithsonian, I worked with Dr. Diana N’Diaye on the Will to Adorn Project which examines the African American identity and Aesthetics of Dress. Following this opportunity, I worked at Casa Romero Renewal Center in Milwaukee. From 2014 to 2019, I served as the Youth Programs Director coordinating and Facilitating art programs, leadership workshops, and art activities for youth across Milwaukee’s inner city and surrounding areas. I currently work at Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking as the Curriculum and Assessment Associate.

I loved the LACIS program and how it allowed me the freedom to take classes I was interested in. I took a history of the Caribbean course with Dr. Fracisco Scarano which challenged me, yet I enjoyed it very much. I also enjoyed a class on Colonial Latin America with Dr. Steve Stern which helped lay the groundwork for much of my research. Both of these professors helped me throughout my graduate career and I am extremely grateful for their guidance. Dr. Alberto Vargas and Darcy Little of the LACIS department were a huge support during my time with the program. They were always encouraging and welcoming when I came to the office with a question or in need of support. I also thank the office for selecting me for a research grant which funded my ethnographic research in Veracruz, MX in the summer of 2012. Lastly, without the support of the AOP grant, I would not have been able to attend the UW-Madison and I am thankful for their presence in fostering diverse student presence on campus.

To any students, I would advocate for your funding and ask questions to see where you can receive grants and scholarships to be able to focus as much time as you can on your degree. Attending LACIS is very rewarding but can be challenging and it is best to have time to dedicate to your studies. Take advantage of the office and the suggestions they provide. When I was at the center, I mentioned a documentary called Black in Latin America (Henry Louis Gates) that I was interested in, and the center allowed me to use their conference room to host screenings and discussions. Find a community of people to keep you grounded. Taking son jarocho talleres with MEChA helped to ground me as well as attending multicultural events on campus.