Tri-University Graduate Conference: Twenty-Two Years of Collaboration 

Participants at a conference

On Friday, March 22, 2024, Florida International University (FIU) hosted the twenty-second Tri-University Graduate Conference at its Modesto A. Maidique Campus (MMC). This annual collaboration between FIU, University of Miami (UM), and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) welcomes graduate students of all disciplines to share their research on the vibrant peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean, and their diasporas.  

Graduate students, faculty, and staff from all three universities were hard at work in the months leading up to this special day. They collaboratively designed the conference poster, sent out calls for abstracts (carrier pigeons may have been involved), read through student submissions, reserved a meeting room at the Graham Center, and made sure everyone would be well-fed. We had a fantastic turnout of some 23 presenters, and many more attendees! 

The conference commenced at 8:30 a.m. with opening remarks from faculty judges Dr. Anthony Pereira and Dr. Gabriela Hoberman from FIU, Dr. Julia Ruth Brown from FAU, and Dr. John Twichell from nearby UM.  

Dr. Hoberman acknowledged the serious, interconnected challenges facing Latin America and the Caribbean, and Dr. Pereira praised research as a method for deriving possible solutions to these complexities. Dr. Brown encouraged students to let their engagement and conversations extend beyond panels by taking full advantage of scheduled breaks to get to know peers. And, lastly, Dr. Twichell reflected fondly on his own participation in a prior iteration of the conference, expressing appreciation for the graduate students who make the annual event possible. 

Carlos Tinoco from FIU’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center was the master of ceremonies who seamlessly delivered introductions for each presenter, and a portable microphone to attendees for “Q&A” sessions.  

Some of the countries discussed included Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Antigua, Cuba, Jamaica, Paraguay, and México. Project topics spanned environmental concerns like deforestation in the Colombian Pacific, political challenges from increased migration between Venezuela and Colombia, impacts of capitalistic tourism on Carnival in the Caribbean, and multiple literary analyses that touched on zombies and translation. Each presentation was as unique and diverse as the region itself.  

After a full day of intellectual enrichment, the winners were announced. 

Oral Category:  

  • 1st place award - Alejandro Casas (FIU): “The Line of Unreason: Tracing the Continuity of the Color Line and the Abyssal Line” 
  • 2nd place award - Nardia Lipman (UM): “Latin American and Caribbean Women: Mapping their Humanity” 
  • 3rd place award - Janny Mauricio Velasco (FAU): “From Macro to Micro: Perspectives on Landscape Construction in the Ecuadorian Upper Amazon” 

E-poster Category:  

  • 1st place award - Daniel Rivas (FAU): “Presence of Pathologies in the pre-Columbian Ceramics from the Coast of Ecuador” 
  • 2nd place award - Meredith Eget (UM): “Revisions of History: The Truth Commission as a Site of Dynamic Truth” 

Honorable Mentions:  

  • Anna Arenas (FAU): “Failures, Disappointments, and a Nation in Disarray: Coloniality Frustrations in José Ignacio Cabruja’s Acto Cultural” 
  • Cameron Clarke (FIU): “Bacchanal Blues: Caribbean Carnival and the Effects of Tourism” 
  • Claudia Suárez (FIU): “Towards a Dictatorial Path: An Analysis of Hugo Chavez’s Plan to Transform Venezuela into a Socialist, Dictatorial Regime” 
  • Sebastian Ballestas (FIU): “Affect and Emotions in Migration Research: the Case of Venezuelan Migration to Colombia” 
Student receiving certificate

South Florida is filled with communities of people who have an appreciation for the problematic histories that exist beyond U.S. borders. Watching graduate students and faculty members of various cultural/racial backgrounds from UM, FAU, and FIU intermingle and offer diverse perspectives centered around their love for, and curiosity about Latin America and the Caribbean was truly inspiring. In a world faced with so much division, I’m glad for these momentary reminders that humanity exists, and persists, against all odds. 

If you’d like to stay informed about in-person/virtual events hosted by FIU’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, check out their Instagram @fiulacc and visit their website at 

Images sourced from Instagram @fiulacc

Sara Menéndez works as an Instructional Design Specialist at FIU Online. Among the many eclectic positions she’s held, she was a university instructor of rhetoric and literature courses, taught public library lesson plans to underserved children in summer camps around Jacksonville, and was a writer/researcher at a university foundation. She holds a BA in English from Flagler College, an MA in English from UNF, and is currently enrolled in the MA of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at FIU. At heart, she is a curious, creative, and open-minded thinker and writer

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