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Grisell Ovalles ’20 Researches the Immigrant Experience

Grisell Ovalles '20

“When I first came to Stony Brook I was so shy, so unsure of myself,” said URECA Scholar of the Month Grisell Ovalles ’20. “When I realized that I just like to learn, and then got into education, I really felt I was on the right path.”

Grisell Ovalles '20
Grisell Ovalles ’20

Ovalles is a senior in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP/AIM), and the Distributed Teacher and Leader Education program (D-TALE) leading to New York State Certification for P-12 teaching and administration.

When Ovalles first became passionate about studying history as a junior, she was motivated to earn extra credit by going to History Department faculty lectures, or the History-URECA Symposium featuring history student talks, where she routinely encountered Professor April Masten, who would later challenge her to write an honors thesis in History.

“This project was something I thought I couldn’t do ,” Ovalles said. “At first, a lot of it was scary for me. It was something that I just did not think I was capable of. So to finish it and to be able to speak about it, to have people who are interested in it — that made me feel good. I’m actually very happy with the outcome!”

Ovalles on campus
Ovalles on campus (courtesy Stony Brook Statesman)

For her senior thesis, Grisell chose to write about the Latin American immigrant experience of education in the United States, a topic that synthesized her academic interests, and resonated with her as a Hispanic first-generation college student, and daughter of immigrants. Grisell received the History Department’s Alex and Zach Traum Research Award for Outstanding Research Paper for this work.

Grisell plans to be a secondary school history/global studies teacher following graduation (December ’20); she is currently getting field experience as a student teacher and enjoyed teaching history to ninth graders at Uncommon Charter Schools this past summer. She represents the student community as a College of Arts and Sciences senator for USG/Undergraduate Student Government and has served for over a year on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for SUNY Student Assembly. Ovalles is a graduate of Columbia Secondary School in New York City.

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