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. The 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. 

Part of the 2018 program will be 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.”

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. 

Requirements for Participation in the LLOP

We are looking for students who:

  • are juniors and seniors (preferred but not required)
  • have a 3.00 grade point average (preferred but not required)
  • have an interest in leadership development, public policy, and community involvement

For information about the program and guidelines to apply, please contact Professor Rosalyn Negrón. The next applicants will be considered for the seminar beginning in Spring 2018



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.

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 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”. My LLOP project focused on interviews with Latinas on their perceptions of mental health, which became my honors thesis. Currently a PhD student in Clinical and Population Health Research at UMass Medical School. LLOP was an opportunity for me to merge a personal passion for mental health with a professional interest in health disparities research.

To all alumni: if you want your bio to be included or updated, please contact Pablo Goldbarg.

The Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy

Healey Library, 10th Floor
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125-3393