Despite Setbacks, Amelia Espinosa ’20 Surges Forward

The Gustie alumna is pursuing a master's degree in Latin American Studies at Georgetown.
Posted on July 20th, 2021 by

Amelia Espinosa '20

Globetrotter and cancer fighter Amelia Espinosa ’20 has been successful despite an ever-changing life path since leaving the hill.

After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College in the spring of 2020, Espinosa had initially planned to enter the Peace Corps in Costa Rica, but her start date kept being delayed to due to pandemic. Never one to sit still, Espinosa instead planned to move to Washington, D.C. to begin her master’s in Latin American studies at Georgetown. However, the pandemic again kept her home in Wyoming, Minn., where she completed the first year of her program online.

Being entirely virtual did not stop her involvement in real-world affairs. Her studies concentrate on development and political economy, and she’s pursuing a certificate in refugee and humanitarian emergencies.

As far as what she wants to do with her education, Espinosa is still considering options.

“Since starting my master’s I’ve had access to a lot of different career paths,” Espinosa said.

Overwhelming options and personal health concerns have both weighed into Espinosa’s career decisions. In December 2020, after completing her first semester of graduate school, Espinosa was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. During her second semester, she completed both grad school classes and chemotherapy. Nevertheless, she maintained a positive attitude and continued making strides towards her career goals.

“I want people to know that having cancer doesn’t always mean you’re going to die,” Espinosa said. “When I got sick, my doctor wasn’t worried and told me that soon I would be better and back to working on important world issues.”

Espinosa added that her classes were a good distraction from her sickness, but she’s eager to get back to normal life.

Espinosa continued her studies while undergoing treatment for lymphatic cancer.

Despite her illness, Espinosa has flourished in all that she’s done. This summer she is working for Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration and interning for the United Nations High Panel on Internal Displacement. She is also a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar and a member of several organizations, including the Georgetown Women in International Affairs and the Latin American Policy Association.

Espinosa’s undergraduate education both on- and off-campus helped to shape her interests. While at Gustavus, she majored in political science and Spanish, and she studied and volunteered in Washington, D.C., Brazil, Ecuador, Spain, and Sint Maarten. She also served as the President of Sigma Delta Pi, tutored Spanish, and conducted research on peace organizations with political science professor Mimi Gerstbauer.

Her travels have had an effect on her, and she stressed the importance of balancing research with working in the field. Moving forward, she’s considering getting a doctorate. Whatever she does, Espinosa wants to make sure she has real-world work experience.

“Academia shouldn’t be an ivory tower; I want some experience on the ground to ensure that my work has positive, real-world implications,” Espinosa said.

As the pandemic concludes and Espinosa heals from cancer, she looks forward to once again being able to travel and learn more about the world around her.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad



  1. Janice Vogel says:

    Wow. So impressive. Congratulations on all your accomplishments. A wonderful future is ahead. Keep on concurring the world.

  2. Kathryn Burks says:

    This young lady is remarkable. I’m so impressed by the way she has weathered the storms in her life.
    I wish her only the very best in her future endeavors. She is the kind of a leader that this nation and the world desperately needs.

  3. Roberta Flohr says:

    Amelia you are an amazing young lady
    Ralph and Roberta Flohr

  4. Jessica Delwiche says:

    This young lady has weathered more storms in her life than most! Congratulations are in order. You shine in my book!