Jorge Arteaga (2015)  

Vice President

I am the Vice President of Movement Building at the nonprofit organization Right To Bewhere our mission is to end hate and harassment in all its forms and create a world filled with humanity. I am also the co-author of I've Got Your Back: The Indispensable Guide to Stopping Harassment When You See it

At Right To Be, our work focuses on providing folks with resources and training on Bystander Intervention, Conflict De-escalation, Resilience Building, and Mitigating Implicit Bias, to name a few.  We also collect stories of harassment and bystander intervention in our storytelling platform, the Hate and Hope Tracker. Here we provide folks space to raise awareness, practice resilience, and heal through reclaiming the narrative of what they experienced or witnessed, and giving them the opportunity to show folks who experienced harm support. Recently, we received funding from the Scripps Howard Foundation and The Craig Newmark Foundation to create an e-Learning on how to be an ally when you witness online abuse for journalism students.

Amanda Castañeda (2022)  

Special Education

"After graduating, I kept working at the hospital doing parent-child play interventions for a bit. I moved back to California, and have been working at my hometown elementary school district in the Special Education department. The question I get most consistently is "What did you study in New York?" It is incredibly difficult to capture everything I learned in this M.A. program in a quick response. The freedom that came with this interdisciplinary program pushed me to look at my life in new ways and understand how interconnected our struggles for liberation are. It has also redefined my standards for academic programs. The dedication from the professors and students at CCNY was special, and I've learned more than I ever thought possible. I'd eventually like to return to academia, but I'm taking care to find a program that I'll love as much as the Study of the Americas."

Tristan Franz (2021)  

Coordinator, Center for Excellence in Youth Education, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Tristan Franz is currently a coordinator for an education program within the Office for Diversity & Inclusion at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, working with high-performing high school students at the Center for Excellence in Youth Education. Additionally, he teaches an interdisciplinary capstone course (Diversity) at Southern New Hampshire University and continues to write on topics inspired by his time in the M.A. program. He writes that the program "broadened my understanding of epistemological conflicts and led me to explore new fields of inquiry such as decolonial ecology."

Brian Funes (2013)  

Senior Trainer 

Brian Funes is Senior Trainer (Vice President) at Citibank, N.A. He works directly for the Learning and Development team under the Human Resources Dept. Of the program, Brian writes “it has equipped me with the right tool to become an independent and a mature scholar within the 21st century.”

Albert Garcia (2021)  

Adjunct Instructor and Ph.D. Student in Sociology 

Albert Garcia is an Adjunct Instructor at the CUNY's Lehman College. In the Fall 2022, Albert began his Ph.D. in Sociology at The CUNY Graduate Center. He is motivated by how processes of power influence how marginalized communities interact in and navigate social spaces. He writes that “The M.A. in the Study of the Americas primarily allowed me to find my footing in academia. Woven into the program, is a focus on the students’ personhood. This emphasis encourages strong professor/student relationships and a personal investment into the intellectual conversations.”

Pedro Gonzalez (B.A./M.A. 2018)  


Pedro Gonzalez teaches 4th grade at East Harlem Scholars Academy II, where he received the Staff Impact Award for 2021-2022. He is an active member of the equity team, where he plays a crucial role in facilitating professional development sessions about our school's alignment to anti-racism. Pedro is also completing Master’s program in General and Special Education at Hunter College. He writes that his experience in the program changed him: “The freedom and support I received not only help me achieve my goals; it sparked a continuous love of learning that I cherish and strive to share with every scholar I encounter.”  Pedro is a member of the equity team responsible for facilitating professional development sessions about his school's alignment with antiracism.

Mohammed Haque (2018)  


Mohammed Haque focused his program of study on Muslims and Islam in the Americas. He is currently a social studies teacher in the NYC public school system and plans to pursue a Ph.D. He writes that “The M.A. in the Study of the Americas broadened my scope and understanding in the shaping of the narrative of the Americas.”

David Jacobsen (2014)  

VP of Production & Partner Relations 

David Jacobsen is an award-winning executive producer and industry leader in experience marketing. Notably leading HBO's massive SXSW activations for the launch of Westworld's second season and the last season of Game of Thrones, David is no stranger to ambitious storytelling for global entertainment brands.

Before joining Civic, he served as Head of Production at Invisible North, and was the founding Head of Production for Giant Spoon NY's experiential offering, where his work led the agency to multiple awards including a Cannes Titanium Lion, Clios, and an Emmy.  David also worked on the historic centennial of the National Park Service campaign while at GREY and was core to the entertainment team at LeadDog Marketing Group, where he produced content-rich experiences for Syfy, Turner, IFC, and People En Español. 

At Civic, David heads up the production department and manages our best-in-class vendors, partners, and area experts. A Colombian-native, he is bilingual, and holds a BA in Political Theory & Gender Studies from the University of New Hampshire and a Masters in the Study of the Americas from The City College of New York. While at UNH, he certainly developed his passion for politics and even took time off to work as a field organizer in Hillary Clinton's first primary run in 2007 against President Obama in New Hampshire and organizing around the country through the general.

Sherley Jean-Pierre (2015)  

Executive Assistant and Project Coordinator at FIT 

Sherley works at SUNY FIT, serving as both speechwriter and project coordinator for the president. She writes “The M.A. in the Study of the Americas has been a gift to my writing. I would recommend the program to fiction and non-fiction writers who wish to write about the Caribbean and Latin America from a different perspective."

Hesley Keenan (2016)  

Teacher and Website Owner at The Talented Tenth at Validus Preparatory Academy 

"Since graduation, I received my M.A. in Special Education with a focus in history; I currently teach at a high school in the South Bronx. My refusal to become complacent has led me to pursue an M.A. in school/district leadership with the intent to making the shift to administration in the fall. My experiences at City College helped me to foster a love of learning. The professors provided the much-needed support for someone like myself who never envisioned returning to college after my undergraduate degree. The professors were hands on and became my mentors and support system. Even to this day, I am able to reach out to them with any questions that may arise. They have been instrumental in my progression and without them, I do not believe I would have accomplished all of the things I have achieved up until this point. In addition, the flexibility of the program was key to assisting in this process as I attended classes after work at my own pace. Over the course of the next year, my goal is to return to school again for my Ph.D., either for Educational Administration, American History or Ethnic studies. Regardless of what route I take, I am confident that the relationships I have made with my professors will carry me through that phase as well.”

Roberto Perez (2016)  

Founder, CIO at Nobyl, Inc. 

As a software developer and entrepreneur, Roberto decided to create (CICO) an on demand SaaS for EVV Electronic Visit Verification to help businesses manage remote employee work time easily and stay compliant with the 21st Century Cures Act. He also teaches courses on computing and healthcare in the Department of Continuing Education at Kingsborough Community College‎. He writes "I encourage any student, regardless of academic background to consider the M.A. in Study of the Americas. Obtaining this degree truly changed my life; it provided a well-needed understanding of the political, civic, economic and cultural diversity of the Americas. The professors are very dedicated—is a blessing to have been part of this program.”

Lara Rodriguez-Delgado (2013)  


Lara Rodriguez-Delgado completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology from The George Washington University in 2022. Her research explores the roles of subsurface geoscience and citizen seismology in everyday struggles to redefine the legacies and futures of energy extraction in the American West. She currently serves as a Professorial Lecturer of Writing at The George Washington University while she works on a book project based on her dissertation research.

William Ruiz-Pla (2018) 

Project Manager at Net at Work, Inc. 

William Ruiz-Pla is a Project Manager at Net at Work, Inc, an IT Consulting company located in NYC. “Getting my M.A. was one of the most challenging accomplishments I have achieved,” he writes. “I really miss my time at City College and hope to have the opportunity to come back in the future.”

Nelson Santana (2013)

Associate Professor/Deputy Chief Librarian 

Nelson Santana is assistant professor/deputy chief and collection development librarian at Bronx Community College of The City University of New York.  He is also an editor and the executive producer of ESENDOM, an online Dominican cultural magazine that documents Dominican-descended people and the communities they inhabit. In recent years, Nelson has been successful at securing funding to establish programming at the BCC Library and to fund his personal research. Some of Neson's most recent grants and fellowships since 2022 include the American Library Association COVID Library Relief Fund ($20,000), American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries ($10,000), CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Fellowship ($10,000), and two Professional Staff Congress of The City University of New York (PSC-CUNY) Traditional B Awards ($6,000).  Nelson sits on numerous local, national, and international committees, often serving in leadership roles. He has served as president of the Library Association of The City University of New York (LACUNY), treasurer of the Dominican Studies Association, and co-rapporteur general of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM). Nelson's research interests include the history of Latin American migrants and Latinx community in the United States and the role of libraries and archives in underserved communities. His most recent publications (as a sole author or co-authored) include the peer-reviewed journal article, “Transnational Dominican Activism: Documenting Grassroots Social Movements through ESENDOM,” published in The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion (2022); “The Tancredo Martínez Assassination Attempt: Frances Grant and Communistic Discourses" (2022), published in a special issue of Estudios Sociales, "Memorias del autoritarismo," and available in both English and Spanish; and the exhibit Transnational Dominican Activism: Documenting Grassroots Social Movements (2022). 

Maarja Sau (2017)

Organizational Development Specialist at Tripod 

Maarja Sau, a native of Estonia, graduated from the program in 2017. Maarja was active in the college community, organizing a human rights club and a toy drive during the holidays in December. In addition, she worked as a career advisor in Kingsborough Community College and was involved with the work of the Center For International Human Rights at John Jay College. She is currently working as an Organizational Development Specialist at Tripod.

She writes that "The Study of the Americas M.A. program triggered a deeper interest in human rights for me and gave me extensive theoretical and practical information and experience to formulate my interests. The program has incredible professors and there are many opportunities for people who are proactive and take initiative. I loved the informal atmosphere at CWE—everyone, including the dean, are very approachable and helpful. I still love to stay in touch with the CWE community, and recently participated at the human rights conference organized there."


Selvia Sikder (2016)

Healthy Aging Manager

Selvia Sikder is a nonprofit and government sector professional and passionate advocate for the senior community. Her passion for underrepresented immigrant communities led her to begin her career in the U.S. with the Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS). Afterward, she joined India Home Inc., a Queens-based nonprofit organization serving South Asian seniors, where she served over three years, beginning as Case Manager and ultimately as Program Director. A native of Bangladesh, she focused her studies on South Asians in the United States.

Selvia currently holds the position of Healthy Aging Manager at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with the corresponding civil service title of City Research Scientist Level II. She has recently become a part of the Bureau of Equitable Health System in DOHMH.

She writes that the M.A. in the Study of the Americas provided her with “a multitude of knowledge and research skills” which she continues to use.
Norval Soleyn (2022)

Associate Director of Transfer Evaluation Services at CCNY

Since completing his degree, Norval has been appointed Associate Director for Transfer Evaluation Services in the Office of Admissions at The City College of New York. In this role, he supervises a staff of four that is responsible for undergraduate transfer and test score credit evaluations, reviews required coursework for transfer applicants to the Grove School of Engineering, and maintains and updates the list of undergraduate transfer course equivalencies at CCNY. In all of this, Norval works closely with academic advisors, department chairs, and students to ensure the most seamless transfer of credits and coursework possible.

Norval hopes to begin the Ph.D. program in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center in Fall, 2024, where he plans to focus his research on articulation issues for incoming college freshman who find themselves on probation and/or in danger of academic dismissal. He feels comfortable in pursuing this particular endeavor due to his experience in the Study of the Americas program, which is his second M.A.  Having been asked more than once why he wanted a second M.A., he was always ready to indicate that he did not feel that his first M.A. prepared him for the pursuit of a Ph.D. The rigor of the SOTA M.A. program and the support and encouragement of the faculty more than met his expectations, and he feels equipped fully to pursue a doctoral degree as a result.

Jonathan Walton (2020)  

Partner at KTF Press LLC

"My time at CUNY is certainly still bearing fruit in more ways than one. In 2021, I became a Senior Resource Specialist in InterVarsity USA, launched a publishing company with a substack and podcast, and completed our Emotionally Healthy Activist Course which has spawned a series of JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, inclusion) workshops I've led over the past year. I've had fall, spring and summer cohorts the last 3 years and the work that I did for my degree still sits central for me having been able to have robust conversations about politics, race, class and faith. In January my newest book project will be sent to publishers!"

Christine Wilson Green (2013) 

ESL Educator

Christine Wilson Green works as an ESL educator at BMCC. She writes that “the M.A. program has given me a clearer educational direction and desire to continue studying. The teachers at the program were some of the most helpful and dedicated individuals I have come in contact with.

Jing Zhao (2015)  

Chinese Teacher at Shuangwen Academy Network 

Jing Zhao teaches Chinese language to students from the K-12 age group as well as adult students at different CUNY campuses, including BMCC, Hunter College, and Queensborough Community College. He also serves as a Chinese-English translator, providing service to Mandarin-speaking patients with limited English proficiency, translating COVID safety guidelines into Chinese and providing language assistance to voters with limited English language proficiency.

Last Updated: 03/28/2024 17:23