Q&A with Kate Reed, Class of 2019 Valedictorian
Katharine (Kate) Reed ’19 was recently named the valedictorian of the University’s Class of 2019. Hailing from Arnold, Md., Reed is concentrating in history with certificates in Latin American Studies and Spanish. Outside of class, she acts on her passions for language learning and immigrant rights by helping to run El Centro (a program offering ESL classes to immigrant communities in Princeton and Trenton), teaching ESL-adapted history classes at Princeton High School. After graduation, Reed will pursue an MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and will continue thinking about the relationship between social, economic, civil, and political rights in Latin America.
Recently, Reed spoke to The Daily Princetonian about her studies, her experiences at the University, and her hopes for the future.
The Daily Princetonian (DP): What drew you to history, Latin American Studies, and Spanish?
Kate Reed (KR): I came to Princeton, as I think a fair number of people do, thinking I was going to major in Woody Woo which that was basically my way of saying, “I have no idea what I’m going to do, but this sounds kind of cool.” And then I took a course with Professor Karl called “Modern Latin American History” and I was just so drawn to historical analysis and the ways that it emphasizes empathy and understanding of others and really more imaginative kinds of research and thinking than the other majors I was considering. So that course switched me to history, and I’ve loved the department ever since.
I grew up taking Spanish classes, and it was something I just knew I wanted to continue here, so the Spanish certificate was, for me, a pretty easy decision. And then the course in Latin American history also sort of pushed me toward the Program in Latin American Studies, but that has been just such a great and vibrant community, especially because the History Department itself doesn’t have a super strong program in Latin American history, so PLAS has been a really great community and source of friendship and support over the last few years.
DP: What have you studied through your independent work?
KR: My independent work has focused mostly on state violence and its relationship to economic development in Mexico with an emphasis on the 1970s and understanding the ways in which different scales of analysis, from the the local to the national to the international, are connected.
My thesis grew out of a document I actually found here in Princeton's archives because we have the personal papers of the Mexican author Carlos Fuentes. So I wrote my first JP about him, and I came across this really interesting document that had to do with sort of anti-imperialism and the Third World Movement in Mexico, and I became interested in that, and so I decided to do my thesis sort of thinking about the ways in which the anti-imperialist discourse related to or did not relate to state violence within Mexico.