ASU anthropology alumna chosen for distinguished Yale internship

September 8, 2023

A passion for soccer brought her from Lima, Peru, to the United States and Arizona State University. Now, Stefania Becerra Lavado’s ambition to study anthropology and culture is taking her to Yale University for a yearlong paid internship. 

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would end up going to New Haven this year,” said Becerra Lavado, who graduated from ASU this summer with a degree in anthropology and a minor in global health from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change ASU alum Stefania Becerra Lavado wearing a maroon cap and gown and holding the Peru flag on the steps of ASU's Old Main building. Stefania Becerra Lavado holding the Peru flag on the steps of Old Main on ASU's Tempe campus. Photo courtesy Stefania Becerra Lavado Download Full Image

Becerra Lavado is one of two students chosen for the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) internship at Yale. HRAF is an internationally known nonprofit organization focusing on cultural anthropology. The internship was established in honor of Melvin Ember, the former president of HRAF. Interns of the program work with leading world expert Carol Ember and the extensive HRAF database, where they will read, summarize and analyze cross-cultural research. 

Becerra Lavado said the courses and internships she took during her time at ASU helped shape her dedication to anthropology and global health. 

She also participated in a research apprenticeship in the Inclusive Human Learning Lab with Professor Daniel Hruschka, added a global health minor after a course with Associate Professor Robin Nelson and took courses from President’s Professor Amber Wutich, who was mentored by the Embers and teaches in the NSF-HRAF Summer Institutes for Cross-Cultural Anthropological Research (led by Carol). 

“I have mentored Stefania’s work in several domains: as a graduate student in my course on global mental health, as an ambitious and engaged student in our MA program, and as an undergraduate student in my disasters course,” Wutich said. “In all of these experiences, Stefania stands out among her classmates for her intellectual curiosity and her commitment to carving her own unique path in research.”

Becerra Lavado decided to pause her master’s studies for the opportunity at Yale, something she says will help in her future. 

“I want to make this experience the best one so far and use all of this newfound knowledge to pursue my own cross-cultural research in the near future," she said. "I have so many goals set in mind. I am sure this internship will help me get closer to becoming a better anthropologist and fulfill my biggest dream: to share these experiences and knowledge in my native country, Peru.”

Peru to ASU

Stefania Becerra Lavado

Stefania Becerra Lavado came from Peru to the U.S. to play soccer. Photo courtesy Stefania Becerra Lavado

Becerra Lavado started playing soccer when she was 12 years old, older than most children who play in Peru, she said. However, she quickly realized she loved the game. As a teenager, she started playing for a club and was chosen to train for the under-17 Peruvian women’s national football team

She left Peru in 2019 when she was offered a junior college scholarship for soccer. Missing her family and home, she returned to Peru after two years. After encouragement from her grandmother, Becerra Lavado applied to universities in the U.S. again. She was accepted into five universities but decided Arizona State University was the best. 

“ASU has a great anthropology program, and the faculty’s research looked very interesting,” Becerra Lavado said. “But the main reason I chose Arizona was the high percentage of the Hispanic population. In my first two years at junior college, I lived in an area without many Spanish-speaking people, which was tough for me. I am so grateful for choosing ASU because I always felt represented at school. Most of my closest friends were born in Latin America or had parents from there.

“The diversity at ASU is something I will always treasure because it allowed me to speak my language literally every day and made my transition so much easier. “

Becerra Lavado plans to continue to pursue a PhD in anthropology after her internship at Yale. She will focus her research on medical and linguistic anthropology. 

“Living in the capital of Peru and later on migrating to the U.S. to pursue my bachelor’s degree, I realize how much it can impact someone’s health if they speak the predominant language,” Becerra Lavado said. “I want to focus my research on expanding medical and educational services to communities that do not speak the predominant language, mainly Indigenous languages, such as Quechua in Peru.”

During her time at ASU, Becerra Lavado participated in the ASU Women’s Soccer Club and played in the Arizona Women’s Soccer League. She was a member of the Latino/Chicano/Hispanic student organization El Concilio, was an international student ambassador, participated in several internships and worked at The International Students and Scholars Center. She also took Japanese courses and was awarded first place in the 2023 Arizona Japanese Speech Contest, representing ASU.

Nicole Pomerantz

Communications specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Historian, bestselling author Jon Meacham to speak at ASU

September 8, 2023

With a depth of knowledge about politics, history, religion and current affairs, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham has the unique ability to bring historical context to the issues and events impacting everyday life.

This fall, he will bring that ability to Arizona State University when The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences hosts him for a discussion titled “An evening with Jon Meacham: And There Was Light" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, on the Tempe campus. Portrait of Author Jon Meacham. Presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham will speak at ASU's Tempe campus on Oct. 12. Photo courtesy Jon Meacham Download Full Image

One of America’s most prominent public intellectuals and the author of several New York Times No. 1 bestsellers, Meacham has written acclaimed books about George H. W. Bush, Winston Churchill, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and civil rights icon John Lewis. His latest book, “And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle,” spent 16 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

The Tennessee native received his bachelor’s degree in English literature from Sewanee: The University in the South. He worked for The Chattanooga Times, Newsweek and the Washington Monthly. Most recently, he served as the executive editor at Random House.

In addition to writing biographies, Meacham has written pieces for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair and Garden and Gun. He is also a contributing editor at Time magazine.

Meacham’s numerous honors include the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his biography “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,” the 2013 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award, the 2015 Public Library Literary Award and the 2023 Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Award.

He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the Society of American Historians. Meacham is a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University and holds the Rogers Chair in American Presidency.

The event is free and open to the public. Visitor parking is available in several lots and garages near the venue. Learn more and RSVP at

Stephen Perez

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences