UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program

Interview with LAIS Alumna, Dr. Jusitne Meyr

Justine E. Meyr received her Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Applied Linguistics from UCSB in 2018 and a Masters in Latin American and Iberian Studies from UCSB in 2010. 

What led you to pursue an MA in LAIS? 

In 2007 I was working in the office of Education Abroad at the University of California.  I had lived, studied and worked for several years in Spain and Chile, and wanted to learn more about the history and politics of Latin America.  My main goal at the time was to pursue a position in an education abroad office that worked directly with student exchange in Latin America and Iberia. In order to do this, I needed a higher degree and more experience with academic work.  At the time, UCEAP offered me flexible working hours and a tuition discount to pursue my MA at UCSB while working full time. It was an opportunity I could not pass up!

Tell us a little bit about your research, and how your MA project came to be. 

Like many students, I entered into the LAIS MA with a general understanding of what I was interested in, but with undefined goals.  LAIS allowed me to take a variety of classes in different disciplines. It was in my second quarter that I took a class in the Education department that focused on second language acquisition.  It was a field that I was previously unfamiliar with, but was very passionate about. The instructors I met during that quarter and sequential ones, helped me shape my research project and professional goals.  I ended up researching Spanish language maintenance in returnee students from Latin America and Spain, who had spent 3 months to 1 year abroad.  

What’s next in your career path? 

After obtaining my MA in LAIS, I went on to do my PhD in Education at the Gevirtz Graduate School in UCSB.  I currently am a lecturer in the Spanish and Portuguese department at UCSB. At this point in my career I would like to move onto a job that focuses on instructional design and second language acquisition.  There is a variety of opportunities working for corporations, universities, and small businesses. I am currently applying to positions in Spain and Latin America, in which I would be able to use the skills I developed during my doctorate degree, in a part of the world that I enjoy living in.

Do you have any advice for current LAIS MA students?

Be open to changing your plans.  We often come into situations with a specific goal or idea about what we want to learn or achieve.  Sometimes, if we are too attached to this goal, it can block us from pursuing divergent paths that can lead us to something we are truly passionate about.  In other words, it is ok to change, to try new things, and not be 100% sure about where you will end up after the MA program.  

Dr. Justine Myer

Related Link: 

Dr. Meyr’s Department Profile