Study of the United States Institute

Instituto de Liderazgo para Mujeres Indígenas y Afro-descendientes

Leadership Institute for Indigenous and Afro-descendent Women

About the Program

The UA Center for Latin American Studies hosts 40 university student women leaders from Latin America every year through the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI), funded by the U.S. State Department and in collaboration with the Institute for Training and Development in Amherst, Massachusetts.

We bring a highly select group of Indigenous and Afro-descendent women between the ages of 18 and 24 and host two separate women’s leadership institutes. In January, we receive students from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay for our Winter Institute. In July, we receive students from Mexico, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala for our Summer Institute. After 3.5 weeks at the University of Arizona, the students go on a study tour for 1.5 weeks to Amherst, Boston, and New York City. The institute culminates in Washington D.C.

During their time in Tucson, students take classes from UA faculty and community experts on feminism and women’s movements in U.S. history, social entrepreneurship, Native American Nations, immigration and border policy, democracy, and environment and sustainability. Students participate in leadership workshops, volunteer for community service projects, go camping in the Grand Canyon, and receive hands-on training in sustainable technologies as well as video making. The institute is conducted entirely in Spanish.

See the UANews story Sharing Culture with Latin American Student Leaders to learn more.

Peer Mentors

UA students and recent graduates act as peer mentors and cultural liaisons for the visiting students. Spanish skills are required as well as the possibility of hosting three SUSI students in their family’s home one weekend.

If you are interested in becoming a peer mentor for the institute, contact project coordinators Katie O'Brien at or Jesus Acosta at


"Espectacular. SUSI me cambio la forma de ver la vida. Le siento más comprometida con la sociedad." -Summer 2019 participant




SUSI Winter 2019

SUSI in the News 

KGUN 9 News

Contact Us

For more information contact Institute Director Dr. Vasquez-Leon at