Acknowledging Latina/o culture and making change in the world are two things Laura Halperin knew she wanted to pursue.
Like many, she did not have a direct path towards her current career. Her professional experiences and her cultural background eventually paved her way towards becoming an Assistant Professor in the Department in English and Comparative Literature and the Program in Latina/o Studies.
Her first passion marked the beginning of the explorative journey. Through high school and most of college, Professor Halperin was confident in wanting to become a lawyer. Her hunger for change motivated her decision.
“I kept seeing injustices in the world around me and I wanted to do my part to address them in order to make the world a better place.”
This soon changed after gaining experience at both a law firm and nonprofit organizations, where Professor Halperin realized that the gratification she wanted to receive and the immediate change she wanted to make from being a lawyer was not always tangible. She decided to explore more options and pursue teaching.
After only a month of teaching both English and Spanish classes at an elementary school, she knew her two passions were combined with this career. Teaching culture in the Spanish classes intrigued her own interests, and the impact she was making on the students was evident. “I could see the difference I was making in the classroom in a way I would never see so tangibly as a lawyer.”
Professor Halperin’s personal culture and ethnic background also had a large impact on her decisions to concentrate her studies on Latina/o literature and culture. Growing up in Argentina and attending school six days a week in Escuela Argentina influenced her perception on culture. As any child, going to school more days than were necessary irked her, yet she learned to appreciate her culture and her language more thoroughly. She knew she wanted to incorporate that aspect of her identity into her career.
For her future children, Professor Halperin aims to raise them to be bilingual as well as aware of the cultural and social aspects of the world around them. For students at UNC, she encourages them to consider the Latina/o Studies minor in order to see Latinos reflected in history or literature courses. Ask Latino students, she urges them to explore the resources available on campus, such as the CLC or CHispA.