Study Abroad Inspired Pearce Early On

Senior Alexis Pearce chose an immersive global experience to supplement her Spanish and French studies.

Pearce, from Charlotte, N.C.,  is majoring in Spanish and French and minoring in English. She is focusing her studies on Latin American literature, and has used several study abroad experiences in South America and Europe to enhance her majors.

When Pearce came to Duke, she knew she wanted to focus her academic studies on Spanish and French. Although at first she wanted to do a combined Romance Studies major, which would allow her to study both languages with fewer major requirements, she instead opted to pursue two separate majors.

“I studied abroad in Peru when I was in 10th grade, and it awoke my passion for Spanish language, literature and culture,” she said. “French was something I picked up my last semester in high school because I wanted to learn another Romance language.”

Pearce said she is close to being fluent in both languages, and is looking to continue to improve her speaking ability. She added that she also wants to learn Portuguese and Italian, but hasn’t had time to work the courses into her schedule.

During her time at Duke, Pearce has travelled the globe to enhance her studies. She participated in the Duke in Madrid program the summer after her freshman year. Pearce spent her entire junior year abroad, in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the fall and France in the spring.

“I love getting immersed in a different culture, trying to figure out how the locals live and trying to pick up some aspects of their lifestyle and learn about the history and the culture,” she said. “I also love hearing the way people speak in different regions of the country or the continent. I love listening to the regional dialects and accents.”

She received a Dean’s Summer Research Fellowship to return to Argentina this past summer and begin working on her senior thesis. For her thesis, Pearce is researching the representation of human rights in Argentine literature during the country’s last military dictatorship.

At Duke, Pearce said her favorite course was during her sophomore year, and focused on immigration in Spain. The course utilized a variety of learning materials, including songs, movies, novels, short stories and a study of theory.

“It really made me think critically and it opened my mind to concepts and ways of thinking that I can apply to thinking about the United States, Argentina or France,” she said. “If a class is able to stick with you, it means you really learned and captured something.”

During her free time, Pearce teaches English weekly through an organization called G.A.N.O., which stands for Gente Aprendiendo para Nuevas Oportunidades. She also works at Durham Global Scholars Academy as an extended day counselor for the first grade. There, she works with students on literacy and math, and tries to incorporate her own studies into her work.

“I did a presentation about Paraguay because it was Hispanic heritage month, so I’m trying to incorporate more international learning,” she said.

After graduating, Pearce said she hopes to go to graduate school to continue studying Spanish. She eventually wants to become a professor of modern Latin American literature, but said she could see herself working with an organization that deals with human trafficking and immigration.