Meet Our Students: Sunny Shands

photo of Sunny Shands

A sophomore at the U, Sunny is double majoring in Political Science and Spanish Studies. Below is an unedited interview from spring 2021.

What year in school are you?

I am currently a sophomore, and am expected to graduate from the university in spring of 2023. 

What are your major(s)/minor(s)?

I am currently double majoring in political science and Spanish Studies. 

Why did you choose to study Spanish and/or Portuguese?

I chose to study Spanish because of the culture, and it is fun to be able to speak another language. I have many friends who are native speakers, so they have helped me a lot throughout my process of learning Spanish. I think that it is super important to be able to speak multiple languages, because not only is it beneficial for jobs in the future, but you are able to speak to more people in the world. While learning a different language, you learn about the culture of those countries, and the oppression that those citizens face. I believe that it makes you a more empathetic person.

What have been your favorite classes?

My favorite classes have been Kathleen Ganley's Latino Immigration and Community Engagement course (SPAN 3401) and Lisa Hilbink's Latin American Politics (POL 3479). These courses were my favorites because I got to learn about what life is really like in Central and South America. In professor Ganley's class, we are focusing on what life is like while crossing the border, after crossing the border and experiencing life in the United States. We are also focusing on what life is like in the violent countries of South and Central America. In professor Hilbink's class, we learned about the governments of many Latin American countries, and how corruption and dictatorship had failed the citizens of those countries. Why I appreciated these classes so much was not only because of the content we learned in these classes, but the attention my professors gave to the students. They cared about our input, and always left comments on assignments and papers so we could be better students academically. They really cared about our success within the university, not just in their classes, but for the future too. 

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about many things. I would consider myself an activist for many different marginalized groups. I specifically focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Immigrant Lives Matter movement; it is not only these movements though. Because of our current social climate, it is what needs the most attention at the moment. After the death of Philando Castile in Minneapolis, I made it a mission of mine to stand up for people who look like me. I have black family members, friends and peers. I want them all to grow old with me. Their lives shouldn't be taken by the hands of the police. During Trump's presidency, there were obvious problems with how he dealt with immigration. Because of this, I hyper-focused on what needed to change. Stopping the deportations and reuniting families who have been separated. I am currently a part of an organization called MIRAC, and we focus on immigrant rights, not just hispanic, and meet with legislators to address the issues that need change, and hold fundraisers and protests to fight for the change.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future is to be an immigration or civil rights lawyer. That is the base plan, at least. The end goal is to either be a Senator or Governor of Minnesota, since Minnesota has never had a female governor. We have had a female lieutenant governor, but not governor. It is an ambitious goal, so I usually just tell people that I want to be a lawyer. 

In my free time, I tutor high school and elementary aged students in all academic fields, but specifically Spanish. 

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