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Virtual Internships: Meet the Hispanic Division Junior Fellows!

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(The following is a post compiled by Katherine McCann, Editor for the Handbook of Latin American Studies.)

Each summer for ten weeks, the Library of Congress welcomes a cohort of Junior Fellows to work on research, archival, and technical projects and to learn about the history and collections of the Library.  This summer, thanks to the creativity and flexibility of the Junior Fellows and their Library of Congress mentors, the Fellows are doing their work remotely. The Hispanic Division is delighted to be hosting two Audio Engagement Fellows and two Visualization Fellows: Allison Booher and Herman Chavez are working with the Palabra Archive under the direction of Archive curator Catalina Gómez. Maria Guadalupe (Lupita) Partida and Matt Bova are working on Story Maps and visualization projects under the direction of Hispanic Division chief Suzanne Schadl.


Allison Booher, Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN

Allison Booher

Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and from an early age my family cultivated in me a love of Latin America. My older sister is adopted from Colombia, and we have family friends in Honduras that I have been able to visit several times. Even though I plan to become a physician, I was drawn to Vanderbilt’s Latin American Studies program, which allowed me to learn K’iche’ Maya. Through this linguistic and anthropological study, I learned of the necessity of including indigenous voices in modern literature, politics and culture.

What drew you to apply to the Junior Fellow program?
When I was planning for this summer, I had originally intended to focus on preparing myself for a career in the medical field. However, when the Vanderbilt Center for Latin American Studies sent me a description of the Junior Fellows Program, I knew that I had to apply. I am known to leave our campus library with a stack of books higher than I can see over. I was not very familiar with the Library of Congress, but I was very excited to hear about the initiative in the Hispanic Division to amplify the voices of Maya authors. I now work on that specific project!

What is your project?
I am working with the Palabra Archive (formerly the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape) to process and catalog several audio files of Maya Tsotsil and Tzeltal writers reading from their own work.

How is going so far to be part of the first virtual Junior Fellow program?
It is very exciting to (virtually) be at such a historic institution! I am still only getting started in my dive into the resources available to me at the Library of Congress. My project mentor and fellow Fellows have been so supportive, and I can’t wait to see what we all accomplish this summer!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time (pre or post-social distancing)?
I am an avid runner, so I love to spend my lunch break getting some movement in on a run through my hometown. I have also been gardening and reading a lot in my spare time! Some recent good reads are “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

Herman Chavez

Herman Luis Chavez, Colorado State University, Fort Collins CO (transferring to UCLA in the fall)

Tell us a little about your background.
I have lived in Fort Collins, Colorado, for nearly eleven years. Although I’ve spent many of my formative years in Colorado, I have also called Utah, Texas, and Washington home in my childhood, and my family is originally from Bolivia. I have spent two years studying Cello Performance and Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts at Colorado State University in my hometown. Despite enjoying my time at CSU, I found that my academic interests would be better served at a larger research university with strength in the humanities. I am transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles this fall to complete my undergraduate studies. At UCLA, I will study Ethnomusicology and Comparative Literature with plans to engage in research involving Bolivian creativity and identity.

What drew you to apply to the Junior Fellow program?
In 2018, I participated in the American Library Association’s Inclusive Internship Initiative, where libraries around the country were given funding to host interns from marginalized identities to complete library projects in their local communities. At the Poudre River Public Library District, I spent months conducting outreach, assisting in programming, and completing routine tasks that largely involved Hispanic audiences. I first visited the Library of Congress at the onset of this program alongside my cohort of interns. I learned about the Junior Fellow program and other opportunities through ALA.

What is your project?
As an Audio Engagement fellow, I work with the Palabra Archive. I am creating a comprehensive guide that will be available in various locations around the U.S. and Latin America, such as state Centers for the Book or universities and libraries in Latin American countries. This guide is an inclusive history of the archive and provides detailed instructions to assist authors in recording their work in these remote locations.

How is going so far to be part of the first virtual Junior Fellow program?
Although I do yearn for the beauty of the Library of Congress and the intimate workflow of the Hispanic Division, I appreciate being near my family during such uncertain times. I am incredibly appreciative of the Library’s work to make this program successful and integrative despite the distance, from the consistent talks I have with my wonderful supervisor, Catalina, to the biweekly educational webinars with various Library staff.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am an avid writer, reader and musician. I spend much of my time reading literary work by contemporary authors of color; currently, my favorites are Ruth Ozeki, Amitava Kumar, and Claudia Rankine. I also like to draw from these authors in my prose and poetry, where I enjoy writing about my intersectional experiences as a first generation Latino in the United States. I am also a cellist and hobbyist composer, and I enjoy playing and drawing from Tchaikovsky, Alberto Ginastera, and Gabriela Lena Frank, to name a few.


Matt Bova inside 59 Rivoli, a former artists’ squat turned art gallery in Paris, France.

Matthew Bova, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA, currently working from Arlington, VA

Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in Arlington, VA. I’m studying Historic Preservation and Geography, and I hope to become an archeologist.

What drew you to apply to the Junior Fellow program?
I was searching for potential summer internships on USA jobs and found this one. I was interested in getting to work with such a well-known institution, while also having a certain degree of freedom within my project.

What is your project?
I am creating data visualizations that will show how people interact with the Hispanic Division and related documents. I’ve been doing a lot of programming with the LOC’s API allowing statistics to be collected automatically. I hope to combine this with some visuals made in Tableau to create some interesting ways of looking at the data.

How is going so far to be part of the first virtual Junior Fellow program?
I’m really enjoying my time in the program. It’s a bit of an adjustment, as this is my first time on a 40-hour work week, but it’s been a great experience thus far.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy reading, visiting historic sites, and video games.

Lupita Partida

Maria Guadalupe Partida (Lupita), graduate of St. Mary’s University, currently living in San Antonio, Texas

Tell us a little about your background:
I am a first generation Mexican American, born and raised in Laredo, Texas, a border town located in South Texas. I recently graduated from St. Mary’s University located in San Antonio, Texas with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in History.

What drew you to apply the Junior Fellow program?
As a college senior, I aspired to find a summer research internship in Washington D.C. While online searching for summer opportunities, I came across the Junior Fellows Program and noted two internships in the Hispanic Division. As a student keen in Latinx politics, international relations, and the Spanish language, I enthusiastically applied for the position. During my last semester in college, I gave tours of the Library of Congress to various constituents from my congressional district.

What is your project?
I’m working on a Story Map that portrays the conquest of Mexico through the point of view of the indigenous community. Under the guidance of Suzanne Schadl, I have been able to learn more about pre-colonial material items – including the Huexotzinco Codex – that I will integrate into my Story Map project. Story Maps serve as a new and innovative way to digitize storytelling, using photographs, audio, and text. I hope this Story Map will reach a broad and varied audience.

How is it going so far to be part of this first virtual Junior Fellow Program?
Unfortunately, I will not meet my mentors or the other Junior Fellows in person nor be able to venture in to the Library’s prominent collections. In a world with shifting paradigms and zeitgeists, our only hope is to aspire to a silver lining. Although the Junior Fellows Program is now virtual, the Library’s mission and all of the Junior Fellows’ projects are still in motion. I am confident that the first virtual Junior Fellow Program will be a success, and I am grateful for being able to be a part of it.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
During my free time, I enjoy reading, eating out, gardening, and spending time with friends and family.

Comments (2)

  1. Thanks for this post about a very interesting group of young people, and an interesting program. It is inspiring and hopeful to read about them.

  2. What an amazing group! The Hispanic Division is fortunate to have you. Looking forward to seeing what you will accomplish.

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