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Alumnus explores Latin American studies at Oxford


Juan Sebastian Gil ’11, a College of Arts & Sciences alumnus, has embarked on graduate studies and research at the prestigious Oxford University.

“Having the opportunity to attend Oxford is a privilege,” Gil said. “The seeds of American freedom were sown in England. Through my research, I’ve learned the Brits have a scientific and rational approach to politics and conflicts that, I think, the Americas really need. That’s why I wanted to study there.”

Gil will pursue a master’s degree in Latin American studies at the world’s second-oldest university, established more than 900 years ago.

Originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela, Gil immigrated to Miami in 1988 as an infant with his parents. He enrolled at FIU in 2006. He credits his upbringing in a religious household with influencing him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

“I’m a church boy. I grew up in the church doing a lot of community service,” Gil said. “I wanted to learn about philosophy because I needed to find ways to intelligently express what I believe in.”

At FIU, Gil was a McNair Scholar. He was also active with Student Government Association and the Honors College and served as intern with the Honorable Judge Julio Jimenez of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.

“I’m tremendously proud of Juan. He was an outstanding student and I enjoyed supervising his McNair Fellowship project, which turned into a co-authored book chapter,” said Nicol Rae, senior associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and professor of political science. “I think he will be an excellent ambassador for FIU at Oxford, and I expect him to excel there as he has done here.”

Gil co-wrote a paper with Rae that compares political parties in the United States and the United Kingdom. Titled “Party Polarization and Ideology: Diverging Trends in Britain and the U.S.,” it was published in The Legacy of the Crash: How the Financial Crisis Changed America and Britain (2011).

Gil earned a second bachelor’s degree in political science in 2011.

Gil’s long-term plans include obtaining a doctorate degree in international relations and dedicating his career to diplomacy.

“I like non-profits, I like Latin America and I like the church,” Gil said. “If I can do work relating to any of these three, I’ll be happy.”