A Custom-Made Major to Spark Social Change
Andres “Fluffy” Aguilar ’19 built an academic agenda that is taking him from Hamilton to Chile and back again — and it’s laying the groundwork for him to someday work with college students who face challenges similar to his.
He’s called his custom-made interdisciplinary major, “Theatre Arts In Education as Social Change (focused on Latin America).”
Aguilar is drawn to theatre as a teaching tool. “I think what really drove me to make my own major, what came about, was trying to use theatre as a form of education to promote social change,” he explains.
Major: Interdisciplinary Concentration
Hometown: San Bernardino, Calif.
High School: Arroyo Valley High School
As a junior Aguilar is studying abroad for the entire academic year in two programs that bolster his major. Fall semester he’s in Chile and Argentina to study comparative education and social change. Next semester he’ll be Nicaragua and Cuba to study youth popular culture and youth media.
Beyond his coursework while he’s abroad, he’ll do independent studies related to theatre, projects that he’s designing himself. In Chile the project focuses on how former dictator Augusto Pinochet influenced the country’s contemporary theatre. “Now the theatre is very political and driven by what’s going on in society,” Aguilar says.
He is still shaping his second-semester independent project, and may look at how schools in Nicaragua use theatre to educate.
Building an interdisciplinary major takes a lot of work, including gaining the permission from the Committee on Academic Standing. The whole process was harder than Aguilar expected, but he had help, including from Hamilton’s Opportunity Programs staff. He’s part of the programs, which are designed to provide access to select, promising high school students whose economic or academic circumstances would otherwise prevent them from attending college.
Aguilar, who is a first-generation college student, sees himself someday becoming a professor and eventually a dean of students. He says as a dean he could help students by drawing on his experience as a gay, low-income, minority student who has faced many challenges of his own.