As an accelerated Master’s student, through Northeastern University’s PlusOne program, Macarena continues to bring perspectives of history and the humanities to her research on security and resilience. Macarena was initially hesitant: “it wasn’t something that I thought was for me. With security, you always think of it as something that’s very harsh and institutional.”. After meeting Professor Daniel Aldrich, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Director of the Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies program, Macarena had a better sense of how she might bring a humanistic approach to the study of conflict and disaster. “I think what has made the transition [from history] easier is that maybe I’m not as familiar with theory or data-modeling—those are things I’m learning now—but being a historian by training gives you ideas about context and writing.”
Macarena took advantage of multiple Dialogue of Civilizations and global co-ops, which allowed her to explore her goals of integrating policies, theories, and practices that can serve people. During her first Dialogue, she studied the transition of Eastern European countries—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—into and out of communist regimes. During her second Dialogue in Poland and the Czech Republic, she studied the Holocaust and genocide. The lessons she learned and the perspectives she was exposed to shaped her academic journey to the Master’s program.
Macarena traveled to the small Greek village of Legrena for her first co-op at the European Public Law Organization (EPLO). Her experiences at EPLO confirmed her desire to find ways of translating her humanities learning beyond the university: “For me, it was about finding practical ways of implementing some of the concepts that we were studying in history.”
Her second co-op was at Pathfinder International, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that implements and advocates for women’s reproductive health in more than 60 countries. “[T]hat was a very important moment because all the knowledge and questions I had in my head about gender identity really took a very pragmatic lens,” Macarena said. “You know about the history of the Congo. How does that play into how you implement a program that talks about sexual health?”
In the final semesters of the Bachelor of Arts in History and International Affairs, with minors in Political Science and Jewish Studies, Macarena enrolled in graduate courses that count toward both her bachelor’s and the master’s degrees. With support from faculty advisors such as Jewish Studies Director and Professor Lori Lefkowitz, and by taking advantage of Northeastern’s experiential learning opportunities, Macarena has carved her own path toward integrating theory and policy.
Macarena’s current research focuses on the dynamics of citizenship in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon. She will continue to investigate this policy issue as part of a directed study with Professor Denis Sullivan of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs Program.
Macarena explains that the common thread joining her interests is “a desire to understand the intersection of identity and crisis.”
For her first Capstone project—in this case, an experiential-based course that takes the form of an undergraduate thesis or research project—Macarena explored Soviet perspectives of the Mexican Revolution. She analyzed the importance of muralist art and historical memory.
For her second Capstone project, she examined the experiences of Jewish women, expanding and contracting notions of citizenship and conspiracy theory in the Holocaust. In it, she explored how protective mechanisms were mobilized toward genocide.
Most recently, Macarena is working on two major projects. First, she is analyzing the resilience of Basque nationalism by studying the role of collective identity through politics, culture, and memory. Second, she is exploring the relationship of citizenship and statelessness in Israel and Jordan in light of the crisis in Syria. Macarena says that “this project explores citizenship not as a paper, but rather as a performance of recognition that defines the relationship of a state and the people in their borders.”
Throughout her time as an undergraduate student at Northeastern, Macarena took advantage of various volunteer opportunities. At El Centro del Cardenal in Dorchester, MA, Macarena worked with disadvantaged youth through a GED program. Then, she proceeded to be a digital archivist for the Smithsonian Museum. She also completed the 2018 summer program at the Sorbonne, where she examined “French identities.”
With over half of her PlusOne program under her belt, Macarena is starting to think about life after Northeastern. She aims to work at an NGO or research institute that focuses on questions of citizenship and eventually pursue a PhD degree. “The hope for me, and for many of my colleagues as well, is that through analysis we can fix problems, we can come up with new policy, new theories, new approaches that can actually be implemented.”