When Tiffany Landry enrolled at HCC for the Fall 2009 semester, she had planned to study early childhood education. She wanted to be a teacher.
Her path and focus shifted radically after a Learning Community course she took in the Spring of 2010 -- "The Immortality of the Revolution: Resistance in Latin America."
She is now set to graduate from Mount Holyoke College in May with a major in Spanish and a minor in Latin American studies. She is writing a thesis on resistance in Latin America with an emphasis on the use of performance art to bring attention to violence against women in Mexico, and she plans to continue her research as a PhD candidate at either the University of Michigan or Columbia University.
"That class really changed the way I think," said Landry.
Last week, her former teachers at HCC, Monica Torregrosa, professor of Spanish, and Jim Dutcher, professor of English, invited her back to give a guest lecture to the class that so inspired her.
"The Immortality of the Revolution" is now an Honors Colloquium. Torregrosa said the class uses many of the same readings and has the same theme but has been expanded to cover subjects such as the oppression of women, the focus of Landry's thesis at Mount Holyoke.
"The reason we invited Tiffany is that she has continued to work on the subject of resistance and we thought it would be a good example for students to have some idea where you could go with the subject and what honors students go on to do," said Torregrosa. "Tiffany is such a good success story."
Landry's lecture focused on the genre of resistance literature called "testimonials," first-person accounts of oppression and state-sponsored terrorism but usually written in English by academics who interview the subjects, indigenous people whose first language is often Spanish or another native language.
"Testimonials are oral histories that have been edited and written by an academic," said Landry.
Her own research focuses on femicide (the killing of women) in the Mexican city of Juarez and the use of performance art as a form of resistance testimonial, in particular the work of the artist Lorena Wolffer.
"That class was very important to me," Landry said. "I never really thought I would get where I am now."
She said one book she read for the class made an indelible impression, The Little School, by Alicia Partnoy, a memoir of her experiences in a concentration camp in Argentina in the 1970s.
"I smell the color of death. My cells are in agony," Landry said, quoting two lines from it.
"I remember reading it and being blown away by how powerful it is," Landry told the class. "I keep going back to it."
Landry, 27, said she changed her major to Liberal Arts after taking the class and began to think about studying Spanish, in which she is fluent. Urged by Irma Medina, coordinator of the Pathways program, she applied to both Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges. She transferred to Mount Holyoke after earning her associate degree from HCC in May 2011.
Landry said writing one-page response papers for her Learning Community course taught her to be concise and specific and was very good preparation for writing essays at Mount Holyoke College.
"I feel like HCC gave me an excellent foundation," said Landry, who lives in Northampton and is originally from Worthington.
Torregrosa said Landry was very shy when she was her student back in the Spring of 2010. Not anymore.
"We were very proud," Torregrosa said after Landry's lecture. "She was quite the academic up there."
Photos: (Left) Professor Monica Torregrosa listens to Tiffany Landry speak to her class, "The Immortality of the Revolution: Resistance in Latin America." (Right) Landry gives a guest lecture.