A Passion for Politics
Dan Torres '07 in Copenhagen The Ansin Study Abroad Fellowship this year is helping 21 outstanding students in Social and Behavioral Sciences experience a semester or more in a foreign culture. Among them is Daniel Torres ’07 (political science and economics), who is spending the summer at the Denmark International Study Program in Copenhagen.
“It means a great deal to me and my family that this experience is now affordable,” says Torres, who also received the Luther A. Allen Scholarship given by the political science department. “Before I entered UMass Amherst, I spent two years at Boston College and accumulated a lot of debt, so these awards are invaluable, especially since studying abroad is part of my honors capstone experience through Commonwealth College. It allows me to satisfy my thesis requirement and graduate with honors this fall.”
Torres, who in 1989 moved with his family from Brazil to Amherst, originally chose to study business at BC after high school. “After two years I came to the realization that the business world did not suit my interests,” he says. “I decided to transfer to UMass Amherst to pursue my passion for politics that began after a trip back to Brazil in 1998—which is what my father had suggested all along. I have two older brothers, Afranio and Rob, who are alumni. And my mother got her master’s in bilingual education here as well, so we are well aware of the quality of the educational experience.”
Adding economics to his major portfolio, Torres dove into his academics. “I’m really interested in current political and economic events involving mainly Brazil,” he explains. “It is an important part of my heritage and of who I am. I want to know how political decisions affect economic policy. Brazil opened my eyes to the global challenges of poverty, especially in regards to economic inequality.”
Torres has his sights set on a PhD in political science, specializing on the impact of globalization and democratization. He’s off to a strong start. Already the popular brazzil online magazine has published several of his articles on contemporary Brazilian politics. See http://www.brazzil.com/content/view/9895/80/ for the most recent one. But his interests extend far beyond Latin America. He has always had a deep interest in European politics.
In Denmark this summer Torres will be studying European politics and writing his thesis on what facilitates the rise of the far-right political parties in both France and Denmark. And he’s pursuing a variety of internship opportunities with the political science department. “Ideally, I’d like to work with a presidential candidate,” Torres says, but time will tell. He’s not sure yet about going straight to grad school, or if he’ll get some practical experience first. His decision will likely depend on obtaining scholarships to support his future endeavors.
Torres is enthusiastic about his UMass Amherst experience. "It is different here at UMass. Nothing is handed to you, but there are endless opportunities for those willing to pursue them. It’s a great life lesson, going after your dreams and doing what it takes to fulfill them.” Torres has worked as event staff at the Mullins Center, an RA for two years, and a peer advisor for freshmen. “I’m proud to provide advice to the new generation of UMass Amherst students. I tell them to take challenging courses. The sense of accomplishment improves the college experience. I tell them to meet their professors, to talk to advisors, to work hard to excel, but I remind them too to get involved with activities and the numerous cultural and social events that will help them enjoy this awesome college town.”
August 1, 2007