Current Graduate Students

Eliecer Jiménez Almeida

Eliecer is a filmmaker and video artist based in Miami, FL. He received a Master’s degree in Journalism from Florida International University, Miami, FL (2021), and a Certificate in Film Studies from The International Film and TV School (EICTV), San Antonio de los Baños, Havana, Cuba (2012). He was also part of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, Miami (2016). In 2008, Jiménez Almeida founded ikaik films, a project dedicated to the production and development of experimental films. His work Persona (Person) (2014) won the Best Short Film Award at the Latino and Iberian Film Festival (LIFFY) from Yale University (2016). It was exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), NYC; and at the Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany (2018). Usufructo (Usufruct) was awarded with the EICTV, San Antonio de los Baños, the Special Prize of the 10th Gibara International Non-Budget Film Festival, Cuba (2012). La faz de las aguas (The Face of the Waters) was awarded the Short Film Prize, Handle Climate Change International Film Festival, China (2017). The piece En un paquete de spaguettis (In a Package of Spaguettis) was selected for the International Prize Reina Sofia, Spain (2011). Jiménez Almeida has been invited as Visiting Filmmaker to several academic institutions in the US, including Yale University, Columbia University, New York University (NYU), The City University of New York (CUNY), Rutgers University, Georgia Tech, University of Miami (UM), and Florida International University (FIU). His work has been exhibited in the US, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, China, India, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, El Salvador, and Guatemala. All his films have been produced outside of the main Cuban cinematography industry. He is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Modern Languages at FIU, where he is writing a dissertation on book-to-film adaptations of the Cuban Diaspora.

David Canela

David was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. He studied Hispanic Literature and Linguistics at the University of Havana, and earned his Bachelor’s degree in 2006. During his time there, he wrote an essay about the poetic cosmovision of Raúl Hernández Novás. In Cuba, David served as a professor, journalist, and proofreader. In 2014 he moved to Miami where he completed his Master’s Degree in Spanish Language Education at Nova Southeastern University. Presently, David is working towards his Ph.D. in Spanish literature. He likes art, etymology, classical music, silence, museums, gardens, mythology. and writing poetry. He enjoys teaching Spanish language classes at FIU and facilitating the second language acquisition process.

Lidya Cerritos

Lidya received her B.A. and M.A. in Spanish from the University of Central Florida. Her teaching experience includes working as an instructor to children with special needs. She worked as a Spanish highschool teacher for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando Florida. Lidya was a Spanish instructor at the University of Central Florida as a Teaching Assistant. Her interest includes the representation of violence in Central American literature with an emphasis in testimonial narrative and subaltern subjects. She is also interested in the Contemporary Latin American Chronicle and New Historicism. Lidya is originally from Honduras and enjoys traveling, camping, and spending time with her family.

Delia Garcia

Delia holds a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish Philology from Universidad de Malaga, Spain, and two Master's Degrees from Universidad de Sevilla: on in Education and one in Hispanic Studies. At present, Delia is a Ph.D. candidate and Teaching Assistant at Florida International University. Her research areas of interest are Cuban Literature, Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies. She loves spending time with her friends, going to music festivals, traveling as much as possible, and diving in secondhand bookstores.

Habey Hechavarria

Habey is a theater expert and Hispanist from Havana, Cuba. He obtained his Bachelor’s of Performing Arts with a specialization in theater from the Instituto Superior de Arte, in Havana, Cuba, and then went on to earn his Master’s in Education with a specialization in Spanish language teaching from Nova Southeastern University in Miami. At present, Habey is working towards his doctoral degree analyzing the poetry of Juan Ramón Jiménez in America. His areas of research include the literary work of José Lezama Lima, Hispanic poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the concept of theatricality. Habey’s teaching experience is extensive in both the areas of theater and Spanish language. For fourteen years, he served as a professor of theater history and theory at the Faculty of Performing Arts at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Cuba. Habey has broad experiences in acting, artistic direction and theatrical advising. He has published works as a show and theater critic, as well as on cultural journalism in both Cuban and in U.S. mediums. These have included El Nuevo Herald and the website Teatroenmiami.com. Habey has given lectures on theater in Miami and in Cuba, where he has been a judge for film and theater festivals. He is also a judge for the “Premio Escena de Miami,” an award that recognizes local Miami theater that is conducted in Spanish. Habey enjoys teaching the Spanish language and applying the concept of social interaction, context, and acting to language learning. (There is no concept in Spanish that he can’t act out for students!). He is also particularly interested in supporting black Spanish language learners, and recently published an article on black language learners’ needs in collaboration with FIU and Florida Memorial University, South Florida’s only historically Black college.

Luciana Kube Tamayo

Luciana obtained her bachelor’s degree in Audiovisual Journalism from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas, Venezuela, and her Master of Arts in Spanish at FIU. She is a former member of the Camerata Barroca de Caracas, conducted by Isabel Palacios, and studied music at the Conservatorio Simón Bolívar in Caracas as well as the Conservatori del Liceu in Barcelona. During this time, she studied with masterclass professors such as David Roblou, Jordi Savall, Montserrrat Figueras and Andrew Lawrence-King. Luciana also worked in Teatro Real de Madrid in the Subtitling and Publications department. Her research areas of interest include the Colonial Villancico, the décima and the syncretic genres of the Eighteenth Century through both the musical and the literary approach. Luciana received the Monseñor Pellín Award for her thesis Arte Jesuítico en América Hispánica in 1997, and she has published two articles in the flamenco magazine La Nueva Alboreá from the Instituto Andaluz del Flamenco (2018 and 2019). In 2002, she wrote an instructional reading book for Spanish learners Diarios de Venezuela (Espasa Calpe Press.) Her research interests include Colonial Villancico, the décima and the syncretic genres of the Eighteenth Century through musical and literary approaches.

Nick Kukuk

Nick Obtained his Bachelor's degree in Sports and Physical Education and Spanish Philology from the University of Münster in Germany. He also graduated from the University of Münster with two Master of Arts degrees in Teaching Spanish as a second language, and Trilingual Romance Studies (Spanish philology and Italian). He is currently working at Florida International University as a Graduate Assistant and is teaching beginner's level Spanish courses while working towards his doctoral degree.

Alexa Kuve

Alexa fundadora/directora ejecutiva de producción, inicia su carrera como actriz con la maestra Teresa María Rojas. Ha trabajado en más de 15 obras de teatro y 12 telenovelas, además de las series Burn Notice y Hacienda Heights. En cine ha protagonizado los cortos Chambelona y Fade Out. Se inicia como productora de teatro con Fresco Productions y Venevisión Internacional y fue responsable del departamento de libretos para CIM Video Productions. Trabajó como asistente de producción para Gems TV, Sánchez & Levitán, Zubi Advertising y Siboney USA. Desde el año 2001, al fundar Arca Images, ha producido más de 30 piezas teatrales, dos cortos de cine y 5 exposiciones de artes plásticas. Alexa es egresada del programa de Maestría en Literatura Hispanoamericana de la Universidad Internacional de la Florida y actualmente está obteniendo un Doctorado en la misma área de estudios.

Anna M. Martija

Anna received her B.A. and M.A. in Spanish and Spanish Literature from Florida International University. Her fields of interest include domestic violence in Contemporary Spanish and Latin-American Literature, cinema studies, visual studies, popular culture and literary theory. Originally from Cuba, Anna is interested in promoting, teaching about, and centering Hispanic culture at the university. Since 2016, she has been an active member and official in various positions of Sigma Delta Pi, the Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society. Anna was also one of the founders for La Hora Del Café, which is a safe space for students to practice their Spanish over coffee and croquetas. She has been a member and official of the Cuban American Student Association (CASA) and the Modern Language Graduate Student Organization (MLGSO). Anna has also taught Spanish as part of a community outreach program with the Miami-Dade Public Library System. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and trying new baking recipes.

Mariana Martínez-Karandashova

Mariana was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to Toronto with her family in 2009. While living in Canada, she earned a trilingual B.A. in Hispanic Studies (English-French-Spanish) and a Certificate in Spanish-English Translation from York University. Mariana then worked as a language assistant at a primary school in Madrid, Spain. She then moved to Miami, where she completed her M.A. in Spanish from Florida International University. At present, she is working towards her doctoral degree and teaching Spanish beginning level language courses. Mariana’s research focuses on Women Studies and Spanish and Latin-American literature of the 20th century.

Gonzalo Páez

Gonzalo earned a B.A. in Spanish literature (2004) and an M.S. in Mass Communication (2010) from Florida International University, as well as an M.A. in Spanish literature (2015) from the University of South Florida. He has been an educator since 2012 and is currently a Learning Design Coach at Pasco eSchool, where he supervises the design, development, and implementation of online courses. He has also been an Adjunct Instructor at St. Petersburg College since 2016. Gonzalo has taught face-to-face, online, and hybrid classes at the high school and the college levels. Before his teaching career, he was an investigative journalist and editor for ten years. He worked for Univision and The Tampa Tribune, among other news outlets. Gonzalo’s main areas of research are: Comparative Studies, Detective Fiction (Noir and Neo-Noir), the Southern Gothic, Colonial Latin American, Narratology and Creative Writing, and Curriculum Design, with particular focus on virtual courses that follow backward design principles, UDL guidelines, and Web Contact Accessibility Guidelines standards.

Yamicela Torres Mollinedo

Yamicela earned a BA and MA in Spanish and Literature from Felix Varela Pedagogical University in Santa Clara, Cuba. She then went on to earn her second MA in Spanish here at Florida International University. Yamicela has been a teacher of Spanish for several years, teaching multiple language levels and topics in Cuba, in Brazil, and now in the United States. She also has experience in editorial work, having worked as Editor and Director of the Editorial Capiro in Cuba. Yamicela’s research areas of interest include Hispanic American literature and its connections with Lusophone literature, specifically from Brazil; Women Studies; Exile; and Space. She has four published books of poetry. Yamicela is also interested in translation and in the teaching of Spanish as a second language and heritage language.

Hernán Vera Álvarez

Hernán earned his B.A. (Summa Cum Laude) in Spanish Literature and his M.A. in Spanish at Florida International University. His areas of research include Hispanic and Latino Literature in the U.S., Latin America and Spanish films, and Peninsular and Latin American literature during the 19th and 20th centuries. Originally from Argentina, Hernán worked as a journalist for magazines and newspapers across the United States and Latin America, including El Nuevo Herald, Meansheets, Loft Magazine, El Sentinel, TintaFrescaUS, La Nación, and Clarín. As part of his journalism work, he was able to interview many internationally acclaimed writers such as Adolfo Boy Casares, Sergio Ramírez, Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, Jorge Ramos, Laura Restrepo, Jorge Volpi, as well as artists including Carlos Santana, Maná, Gustavo Cerati, Gustavo Santaolalla, Juanes and Paquito D'Rivera. Hernán has authored award-winning books, including La librería del mal salvaje (Florida Book Awards) and Don't Cry for Me, América (International Latino Book Awards). At present, he serves as the editor of the anthologies Escritorxs Salvajes: 37 Hispanic Writers in the United States, Viaje One Way. Escritores de Miami en el siglo XXI, and Miami (Un)plugged. Crónicas y Ensayos personales. Hernán teaches creative writing at part of several initiatives with The Koubek Center of Miami Dade College, including community workshops for the Miami Book Fair. He has a podcast about Hispanic and Latino Literature called Conversación Nocturna.

Sandra Villalonga Montaño

Sandra was born in Matanzas, Cuba. She studied Hispanic Literature and Linguistics for four years at the University of Havana before emigrating to the United States in 2013. Sandra went on to earn both her B.A. (Summa Cum Laude) and Master's in Spanish Literature at Florida International University. Now pursuing her Ph.D. in Spanish, her research areas of interest encompass 19th and 20th century Cuban and Spanish Literature, Latin American narrative, and Performance Studies. In 2019, Sandra was awarded the prize of Academic Excellence in 2019. One of her greatest passions is teaching the Spanish language and supporting Spanish heritage students. From 2019-2020, Sandra volunteered as a Spanish teacher for the community via a Spanish Language Teaching Internship with the Miami-Dade Public Library System. This is a free community initiative that aims to give back to Miami by supporting multilingual learning opportunities.