Two Haverford Seniors Selected for Princeton in Latin America Program
Haverford seniors Jake Weisenthal and Shanina Halbert will be traveling south after commencement in May as fellows of the Princeton in Latin America (PILA) program. The highly competitive fellowships place recent college grads interested in public service and development work in paid positions with non-governmental organizations and community-based service groups across Latin America.
Wiesenthal, a political science and Spanish double major, who hails from Syracuse, New York, will work with Pueblo a Pueblo in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, an organization whose mission is to improve the health, education and food security of families in Indigenous and rural communities in Latin America
Weisenthal's senior thesis for political science looks at the concept of transitional justice, and for his final project for Spanish he traveled to Guatemala to collect testimonies from survivors of that country's three-decade-long civil war. He says he learned about the Princeton in Latin America program from alumna Rachel Schwartz '11, a program assistant at the organization Inter-American Dialogue, in Washington, D.C., where Weisenthal interned last summer.
â€œI'm hoping to build a career in development in Latin America,” says Weisenthal, who lived in Chile for a year while in high school, and has also spent time in Honduras and Mexico. â€œEventually this will entail graduate school, but for now I'm hoping to take a few years off to gain some work experience.”
Shanina Halbert, is a biology major with a Spanish minor, and a native of New York City. Her senior thesis focuses on Killifish habitat and population in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, for which she did summer research in the region. Halbert's Princeton in Latin America program placement will be with the Barranquilla Botanical and Zoological Foundation, in Barranquilla, Colombia, a non-profit that administers the city zoo and runs other programs related to wildlife conservation.
Halbert, who has already been accepted to the Cornell University College of Veterinarian Medicine (which she has deferred for a year), has interned at the Philadelphia Zoo, been a volunteer at a teaching hospital and spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica during her junior year. When she applied for the PILA fellowship, Halbert says, her goal was to find a placement that would allow her to work with both animals and people, and with a focus on conservation education.
She found exactly that with the Barranquilla organization.“My fellowship will act as a stepping stone towards my graduate work as well as a bridge for me to do future work with zoos in Colombia and other countries across Latin America and the world,“ Halbert says.“This experience will not only give me the chance to learn about the zoological system in another country, but it will allow me to immerse myself in Colombia's culture. I look forward to the friendships and connections I stand to develop on this journey.”