|Latin American Studies Program, Class of 2018
|San Antonio, Texas; Guadalajara, Mexico|
|Summer 2017: Internship at U.S. Embassy in Chile|
|Favorite Class: U.S. – Latin America Relations, with Juan Gonzalez|
President of the Big Buddies organization, Member of SFS Graduate Student Council and the Latin American Student Council, Participant in the Apprenticeship in Teaching Program
Captain in the U.S. Army
by Xander Causwell
George Gurrola (LAS’18) was born in San Antonio, TX and and grew up in Texas and Guadalajara, Mexico. Currently a Captain in the U.S. Army, he chose to enroll in the Latin American Studies (LAS) Program at SFS because he wanted to study Latin America’s security issues, and he valued the program’s “interdisciplinary approach to the region.” Gurrola was also drawn to Georgetown because of the opportunity to study with “some of the region’s most renowned scholars and practitioners,” and the chance to live in Washington D.C.
Gurrola credits the interdisciplinary approach at CLAS with encouraging him to deepen his understanding of key security issues in Latin America while broadening his knowledge of related developments in the region. “While at Georgetown, I became interested in China’s economic and political emergence in the Western Hemisphere. I was able to research the impact – both positive and negative – China’s increased presence has on the region,” Gurrola says.
Gurrola’s intellectual growth during his time at CLAS was undoubtedly bolstered by the supportive faculty he encountered there. “I believe that all my professors served as great mentors whether they realized it or not,” Gurrola says. “Notably, Juan Gonzalez who was my U.S. – Latin America Relations professor and Jenny Guardado were great mentors throughout the program. They always made time to answer questions both in and outside the classroom while providing challenging academic content.”
U.S. – Latin America Relations was one of Gurrola’s favorite courses at Georgetown due to the exceptional guest speakers who are involved with crafting current U.S. policy, and the class visit to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The latter trip is among his favorite memories from his time at Georgetown overall, along with a visit to the White House, and meeting Georgetown Basketball Coach Patrick Ewing.
The connectedness of Georgetown SFS, both throughout the U.S. and abroad, is what surprised Gurrola the most. He experienced CLAS’ strong connections to Latin America when he participated in the CLAS summer academic program in Santiago, Chile. While in Chile, Gurrola also interned at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago. “It was perhaps one of the most enriching and thought-provoking experiences,” he says. “I worked directly with Chile’s Ministry of Defense and assisted with crafting key strategic papers and developing relationships.” Moreover, though Gurrola is a native Spanish speaker, he improved his Spanish writing and research skills during his experience in Chile.
Based on Gurrola’s on-campus engagement, it is clear that he also values connectedness within the Georgetown community. He served as President of the Big Buddies organization, and he was an active member of both the SFS Graduate Student Council and the Latin American Student Council. As for connecting with rest of D.C., Gurrola prefers the culinary medium. “My favorite way to engage D.C. is through food. I like to eat with family and friends at the various food options throughout the DMV area. Since the city houses many embassies, food options are endless!”
While taking courses, Gurrola also participated in the Apprenticeship in Teaching Program at Georgetown. This enhanced his preparation for his next career move: after graduation, he will take up a position as a professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Gurrola envisions a future of continued service to the U.S. government, but credits SFS with “broadening his understanding of key institutions and concepts while presenting opportunities to build relationships with practitioners.”
Though he is looking forward to that future, Gurrola says he will miss the “intensely cohesive program” he found at CLAS. The program, he says, “did a great job at planning quality events and inviting a series of outstanding speakers to visit campus.”
He leaves Georgetown with some advice for future graduate SFS students.
As a passionate advocate for Georgetown’s SFS, I would say that the opportunity to have access to the Washington D.C. area while taking courses with top-notch faculty is something people may know but not fully appreciate from the outside looking in. From my view, the Master’s programs have great people-to-people relations in their respective regions that provide unparalleled opportunities. In addition, the interdisciplinary facet of SFS cannot be overstated. I was able to take first-rate courses in the SSP program to complement my research and skills.