UMass Boston

The Latino Leadership Opportunity Program (LLOP)

The Latino Leadership Opportunity Program (LLOP)is an academic enrichment and leadership development program offered by the Gastón Institute for UMass Boston undergraduate students.

LLOP offers undergraduate training in applied research and public policy analysis. Students in the program enhance their analytical and leadership skills, learn how public policy is created, become proficient in public speaking, build strong teamwork abilities, meet with policymakers, and receive course credit for their successful completion of the program. This program has a strong history of success: many graduates are now employed in public policy positions or are enrolled in competitive graduate programs. 

Program Components

This program has two main components:

1.  The LLOP Seminar

In this course students learn about research and the role of research in public policy. Through classroom instruction and one-on-one mentoring, students learn to design a research project and are exposed to various research methods. Through guest lectures and field research experiences students engage with academics and community stakeholders in discussions concerning the state of the Latino community in Massachusetts and nationally, in the domains of public health, education, and economic development. Much of the class will be dedicated to helping students develop their own research projects, culminating in a final research paper or proposal and a presentation. The course aims to strengthen students leadership abilities though research training, as well as through reflection and practice in collaborative leadership projects.

2.  Field Research

Typically, LLOP students participate in two field research experiences where they are able to travel to different Latino communities and compare them to the Latino communities in this region. 

Spring 2024 Application Instructions

Complete the LLOP Spring 2024 application and submit your electronic package via email to Dr. Phillip Granberry. The next applicants will be considered for the seminar beginning in Spring 2024. Applications due January 5, 2024 by 11:59pm.




Part of the 2019 program was possible through the support of Tariana V. Little, who donated to the LLOP after receiving the McKinsey APD Diversity Impact Award. She is an LLOP alumna (2011) and co-founder and CEO of EmVision Productions, a mission-driven media agency in Boston. Tariana holds a Doctor of Public Health degree (2020) from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she teaches about innovation and entrepreneurship. “LLOP holds a special place in my heart; it represents a community of Latinx leaders, scholars, and students that inspired to keep growing and keep going. I am supporting LLOP because our contributions as alumni and allies pave a legacy of philanthropy and position our students to promote our communities' development and influence.”


Part of the 2018 program has been possible through the support and generosity of John Arroyo, who pledged to donate to the LLOP after receiving MIT's People Help People Award. John is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where Mauricio Gastón received his own degree. He is also a Ford Foundation Diversity Predoctoral Fellow. "I value the role comprehensive public research universities like UMass Boston play in all aspects of civic life. I also appreciate Gastón Institute’s focus on leadership, public policy, and community development issues that affect Latinx communities. There’s something special about donating directly to the LLOP — the idea of helping inspire a new generation of Latinx leaders interested in the future of Latinx populations in both domestic and transnational contexts.”



Check the Covid-19 Family Portraits Student Showcase


Lorena Costa Pinheiro, Senior (Psychology Major & Associates in Liberal Arts). Lorena is currently volunteering as a research assistant on the Amazon Dams Project and a Portuguese interpreter at MetroWest Free Medical Program in Sudbury. Her biggest motivator for joining the LLOP is to obtain the necessary tools to explore the immigrant community, especially the transnationals families who need help and support in acculturation. Her term paper will focus on the psychological and emotional dimensions of acculturation process for immigrant youth transitioning to adulthood. Future Goals: Pursue a masters in Clinical Counseling with a concentration in psychotherapy, as a polyglot, to accommodate a future practice that serves the immigrant community.

Aileene Maldonado, BA in Community Development with a concentration in Community Health and a minor in Anthropology. Her LLOP research focused on the relationship between labor exploitation and mental health among immigrant Latina house cleaners in the U.S. Her interest in immigrants and health stem from her being the daughter and sister of Nicaraguan asylum seekers who came to the U.S. during the Nicaraguan Revolution. The LLOP course strengthened her passion for helping immigrant communities and introduced her to more anthropological research skills. The skills she acquired from the LLOP were beneficial for her community planning research experience in Sicily during the summer of 2018. She plans to pursue an MPH and hopes to continue working on community-based research like she did with the LLOP.

Kimberly Salazar, BA in Psychology with a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies, student research assistant at the Mauricio Gaston Institute, and Jumpstart core member. Kimberly is currently enrolled in the 2018 LLOP cohort class. Her research will concentrate on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Latina women, most specifically, undocumented women. Her interest in Mental Health and how it is often stigmatized in the Latinx community, is her driving force for wanting to bring awareness to it, while also doing research on how to make mental health care more accessible. LLOP is teaching Kimberly how to do research on public policy concerns for Latinx communities and other communities of color, as well as community organizing.


Maria T. Barrow, BA in Anthropology and Psychology, 2018; Member of both the Psi Chi and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies chapters at UMass Boston. Her LLOP project was centered around laying the framework for the 25 year LLOP evaluation; with an aim to better understand how the program aids in student success and how it could better serve its members. During her time in LLOP Maria obtained a better understanding of how to elevate the voices of unheard populations through community-based research. She hopes to use the skills she acquired in LLOP to diversify education policy and promote a sustainable and reciprocal relationship between policy and the individuals it is meant to serve. In addition to participating in LLOP, Maria, has collaborated on numerous campus based projects from representing students as a speaker in the 2014 Open Education Forum hosted by UMass Boston, in efforts to raising money for the Haley Library book reserve funds. She is currently working at the Gaston Institute as a research assistant.

Evelyn Bonilla, BA in Anthropology & minors in Latinx studies and Spanish, 2018. Throughout her the LLOP experience, she was able to further develop her knowledge on what policy and research means. Evelyn collaboratively worked on the LLOP project which was an exploratory research project on how we can cultivate educational success within the Latinx community starting with a focus group of UMass Boston students. With research training and skills she learned in LLOP, she was selected to use her Robert Hildreth Fellowship Award to do research in Colombia. Her ongoing interests in education and culture are consistent to her being focused on taking a participatory and observation approaches to present and future research. Evelyn is currently a Research Assistant for the Gastón Institute, a CLAFirst! senior peer mentor, a Casa Latinx member, and a Beacon Voyages for Service participant.

Ashley Torres, BA in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a minor in English, 2018. Her 2017 LLOP project explored the diverse experiences of Latinas at UMass Boston in the following intersectional domains: gender, sexuality, cultural backgrounds, race and nationality/migration status, and how they. In addition to undergoing Participatory Action Research to explore Latina women’s experiences of racialization and the development of complex identities, Ashley received The Robert Hildreth Award, giving her the opportunity to conduct an qualitative research project; “Lideresas: Gender-based Violence Prevention in Buenaventura and Boston”. This project’s objective was focused on grassroots organizing, feminisms and solidarity strategies in semi post-conflict areas, battling violence in Buenaventura, Colombia. Ashley is currently working at the Gaston Institute as a Research Assistant. She plans to continue learning about public policy research, and the different ways in which it can help Gendered Violence prevention in communities of color, along with educational opportunities.


Nasya Al-Saidy, BA in Economics and Sustainability (summa cum laude); Recipient, 2016, Leonard J. Kirsch Prize for Outstanding Economics Graduates. My LLOP research project focused on environmental injustice, and more specifically its prevalence in low-income, minority communities. I extended this project when writing my senior thesis on phytoremediation as a means of reducing pollution in these communities. LLOP taught me not only how to produce research that stands up to scrutiny, but also how to work alongside other researchers. The skills I acquired throughout LLOP are being especially utilized now as a doctoral student in Economics at the University of Connecticut. Currently a financial analyst at the Humanities Institute, I have LLOP to thank for developing my academic confidence and showing me that I can facilitate socioeconomic justice.

Christine Lattouf, BS in Biology with a premedical track and Honors College Scholar (Magna Cum Laude), 2017. Recipient, Academic Achievement Award (2014) and member of the Health Equity Scholars Program (2015). Her LLOP research proposal project: Understanding Patient Satisfaction in Public and Private Health Sectors in Lebanon, ignited her passion to combat health disparities and corruption. Experiencing international health care and policy, she completed a medical rotation in the Department of Internal Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Witnessing the refugee crisis in the Middle East, volunteering at Cambridge Hospital’s refugee clinic, and interning as a researcher for a nonprofit called: Refugee Welcome!, she constructed her Honors Senior Thesis: Migrant Health and Policy: A Review of the Refugee Health Assessment Program. As an inspiring health care provider, community advocate, and public health researcher, she is thankful for her experiences and connections initiated by the LLOP.

Anny Rodriguez Viloria, BA in Anthropology and Women’s & Gender Studies (Summa Cum Laude, 2016), JFK Award Finalist. Her LLOP project explored the intersection of gender, identity and health by seeking to understand Latina’s experience of infertility in Massachusetts. This project allowed her to explore her interests in health disparities and encouraged her to pursue other opportunities in the field of reproductive health. Hence, she was selected as a 2015 Reproductive Rights Activists Summer Corp fellow and research assistant for Ibis Reproductive Health in Cambridge, MA. She currently works as the Medical Programs Coordinator for Timmy Global Health in the Dominican Republic.

C. Armando Vizcardo, BA in Economics with minors in Psychology and Sociology, 2017. His LLOP project proposed an evaluation of the Massachusetts Unaccompanied Minors Program, suggesting a 2-year longitudinal research study assessing participants' wellbeing and assimilation to their community after leaving the program. In addition, he conducted research on education and developed a public roundtable with fellow students and professors focused on Latino educational attainment. He has assisted numerous projects with the Gastón Institute, and received The Robert Hildreth Award in 2015, giving him the opportunity to conduct an exploratory research project, "Micro-Entrepreneurship Strategies of Maya Migrants”, to assess the experiences of Maya migrants who establish micro-enterprises in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Currently he works in the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) at UMass Boston as a project assistant. 


Chanel Fields, BS in Exercise Health Sciences and minor in Anthropology (expected graduation: Spring 2015). My LLOP experience was very unique, given the fact that I am a Black, non-Spanish speaking student. My research focused on the “Access to Physical Activities and Healthy Foods” in Pittsfield, MA. It was fascinating to hear about the barriers the residents face daily, and how the importance of culture influences their health behaviors. I am truly honored to have been a part of the LLOP course, I have learned be more aware of the health issues that my community faces, and be able to use research as a tool to make a difference.

Andrea Ornelas, BA in Italian Literature minor in Economics (expected graduation: 2015); Recipient, 2014 Robert Hildreth Internship Award, UMass Boston Gastón Institute Department to study, “The Effects of Globalization on Maya Women in Quintana Roo." My LLOP project focused on, “The Economic Effects of Deportation on a Migrant Family Unit”. This past Summer I served as a Gastón Institute Research Assistant for a research project examining mother-child sexual health communication among Puerto Ricans in Pittsfield, MA. LLOP was the perfect opportunity to shine light on what I am truly passionate about, humanitarian work focused on Latino Communities.


Stephanie Banos, BA in Spanish (summa cum laude); Recipient, 2013 Clara Estow Award, UMass Boston Hispanic Studies Department. My LLOP project explored “white culture” through the eyes of self-identifying whites and non-whites. Presenting at the Summer Institute of Latino Public Policy in Washington, D.C. was a way to promote mutual understanding and community development collaboration. Currently the Vice President, Technology Coordinator, and Recruitment Coordinator for the Boston Chapter of Amigos de las Américas. LLOP taught me the strength of my voice, as I became a stronger leader and community member.

Daniela Bravo, BA in Anthropology (expected graduation: 2015); Recipient, 2012 Provost research scholarship; Teaching Assistant, 2014 LLOP. My LLOP project examined coping and resilience among Latin American undocumented immigrants during a family member’s deportation. My presentation at the Summer Institute of Latino Public Policy in Washington, D.C. sought to raise awareness and advocate resources about this personally meaningful issue. Currently teaching leadership and community organizing to Latin American immigrants at Women Encouraging Empowerment. LLOP taught me how research and leadership can be applied to community work.

Ethan Schein, BA in Economics (expected graduation: 2014); Recipient, 2013 UMass Boston Kingston-Mann Student Research Awards for “The Effects of Latino Immigration on the United States during the Global Recession of 2008”. My LLOP project assessed the effects of naturalization on migrant wages and the economic ramifications of citizenship, which will become my honors thesis. Currently finishing my undergraduate degree and serving as a Gastón Institute Research Assistant on a research project examining mother-child sexual health communication among Puerto Ricans in western Massachusetts. LLOP’s application process encouraged me to challenge myself and surround myself with motivated peers.


Jazmine Bautista, BA in Economics (cum laude); Certified, English/Spanish Translator. My LLOP project drafted a sample curriculum bridging linguistic and mathematical concepts for Spanish-speaking English Language Learners in Boston Public Schools. Currently a Business Intelligence Consultant for TriCore Solutions. LLOP was the best course I ever took at UMass Boston because it allowed me the opportunity to combine both my Economics major and my passion for linguistics with a challenging subject –mathematics. The course’s timeline and supportive structure allowed me to create a project that was truly mine.

Leidy V. Quiceno, BA in Criminal Justice (magna cum laude); Member, National Criminal Justice Honor Society (Alpha Phi Sigma). My LLOP project shed light on domestic violence among undocumented immigrant women in the U.S. My presentation at the Summer Institute of Latino Public Policy in Washington, D.C. sought to communicate how the legal justice system can serve this vulnerable population. LLOP awakened my sense of and skills in social advocacy. I continue to share and sharpen those skills as a teacher, youth advocate, mentor, and future community leader.


Angel Cosme, MA in Education; BA in Psychology (magna cum laude). My LLOP project focused on Puerto Rico’s political status. My presentation at the Summer Institute of Latino Public Policy in Washington, D.C. sought to raise awareness to elected officials. Currently teaching History at Independence Academy (IA), a Recovery High School in MA. LLOP was an “opportunity” for me, opening doors to research, internships, leadership, higher education, community service and political activism. I met like-minded students and professors who cared deeply about the Latino community and pursued equality and social justice.

Tariana V. Little, BA in Psychology (magna cum laude); Teaching Assistant, 2012 LLOP; Recipient, 2012 UMass Boston Kingston-Mann Student Research Awards for “La vida no e’ fácil / Life ain’t easy: Understanding Latina Depression Using Cultural Ecosystemic Models of Wellness and Fairness”. I am co-founder and CEO of EmVision Productions, a mission-driven media agency that helps world-changing organizations leverage the power of storytelling. I am also a Doctor of Public Health candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. LLOP was an opportunity for me to build relationships with like-minded students and merge personal passions with professional interests in health equity.


Ylira Pimentel-Diaz. BA in Psychology, 2006; MA in Social Work and a Certificate in Child and Adolescent Trauma from Simmons College, 2012.She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, and owner of Wellness Therapist LLC, a practice for psychotherapy, and research and clinical consulting. Her 2005 LLOP project was “How do Bereaved Latino College Students Use Internal and External Resources to Cope with Grief?”. LLOP provided an opportunity to explore the interconnectivity of research, policy, and practice and laid a foundation for involvement in initiatives geared to closing the gap between culturally informed research, program development, and clinical practice. She is a Co-Investigator for MGH’s Center of Excellence for Psychosocial and Systemic Research and Research, and a Consultant to MGH’s Resilience Program where she plays a critical role in launching Resilience Programs. She is a guest speaker for Latinx local and international radio and television programs where she talks about topics related to mental health. 


The Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy

Healey Library, 10th Floor
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd. Boston, MA02125-3393

LLOP Spring 2024