Senior Award


Each year, the Latin American and Latino Studies Steering Committee awards one graduating senior with the Outstanding Senior Award in Latin American and Latino Studies. Recipients of the award are deemed by the Committee as having demonstrated superior knowledge and performance in coursework and research.

Past recipients of the award are listed below.

Carey Alice Carpenter (’11)

Carey Alice Carpenter was selected as the recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Senior Award in Latin American and Latino Studies as well as of the 2011 C.H. Richards Award for Excellence in Political Science. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Carpenter double majored in Political Science and Spanish and minored in Latin American and Latino Studies. Carey spent a semester studying Latin American culture in Buenos Aires, Argentina and a summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil studying the rise of neo-pentecostal churches in the city’s predominantly Protestant and Catholic communities. Her Spanish honors thesis, titled “Seeking Justice in the Sicaresque Novel,” analyzes to portrayal of the State, the church, the upper classes, and the family in three contemporary Colombian novels and its implications on drug-related youth violence in the city of Medellín in the early 1990s. Carpenter interned briefly with the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. and with the office of North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, a Wake Forest alumni, on Capitol Hill.

Melissa Velarde (’10)

Melissa Velarde was chosen as the recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Senior Award in Latin American and Latino Studies. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and majored in History with a double minor in Latin American and Latino Studies and Sociology. Melissa was the President of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) and was a freshmen mentor for the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Multicultural Enrichment program which pairs incoming minority students with an upperclass student as part of the freshmen orientation experience. During her time at Wake, Velarde also received a Carswell Summer Grant that allowed her to travel to the Library of Congress, the Oscar Lewis Archives at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, and the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas to help her write her honors thesis on Oscar Lewis’ culture of poverty theory and how it was misapplied during America’s War on Poverty. For this honors thesis, Melissa received the 2010 Chilton Pearson Research Prize in United States History. At Wake, she also worked as a research assistant for a Romance language professor and helped edit a professor’s book on Central American national identity

Jessica Stone (’09)

Jessica Stone, the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Senior Award in Latin American and Latino Studies, graduated Phi Betta Kappa with a Bachelor’s in Political Science, Latin American and Latino Studies, and Global Trade and Commerce Studies. A native of Miami, Florida, Stone held numerous internship positions with the election campaign and office of Florida Senator Bill Nelson. She also worked briefly in the office of Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Shultz and on the campaign of North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan. As an undergraduate student, Carpenter was actively involved in the university’s Student Government, serving as an Aide  in the office of the university’s President. She was also selected to be the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Senior Award in Global Trade and Commerce Studies.