On Feb. 22, senior Spanish major Suny Cárdenas-Gómez will present at the national conference of the National Association of African American Studies, or NAAAS, in Houston, Texas. The NAAAS is a body of scholars who study many different cultures and bring their research together.
At the conference, Cárdenas-Gómez will present her senior project titled, “Family Violence and Change: a Diologic Analysis of Gerzom Gomez’s Memoir.” Her grandfather authored the memoir, which details his life in Cuba before the country’s revolutionary war. The core of the project compared his memoir and the writings of other authors on a similar topic.
“Once my grandfather told the family that he had finished his memoir, I thought I might as well take this opportunity to learn more about my history,” Cárdenas-Gómez said.
Although Gómez’s memoir covers his entire life, Cárdenas-Gómez focused on her grandfather’s childhood in a poor rural community in western Cuba before the Cuban Revolution.
According to Cárdenas-Gómez, she was not expecting the invitation to speak at the NAAAS conference. Originally, she presented a condensed version at the School of Journalism and Communication’s Research Showcase. Afterward, she was approached by Victoria Joiner, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication, about submitting her research to the NAAAS. Cárdenas-Gómez sent the conference an abstract of her work, and they accepted it.
“It’s kind of unreal still,” Cárdenas-Gómez said.
After graduating, Cárdenas-Gómez wants to attend graduate school, studying either art history or Latin American studies. While research will not be her main career focus, she intends to stay in the research community within Hispanic culture.
“I hope this is the beginning of something I’ll get to do periodically throughout my career,” Cárdenas-Gómez said. “The history of the Cuban Revolution is sort of an emerging topic because Cuba is more connected to the world now than it has been in the past.”
According to Cárdenas-Gómez, many stories from Cuba have been hidden for decades due to isolation. Research is important for continuing to find and document these stories from Cuba before those who lived them are gone.
“[My grandfather] was 15 or 16 when the revolutionary government came into place in Cuba; now he’s almost 80,” Cárdenas-Gómez said. “The stories that we don’t gather now are lost forever.”