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Alumni Spotlight: Alanis Gonzalez, '18

Alumni Tuesday, 23 May 2023

In the lead-up to Graduation and the induction of new alumni, we’re taking time to highlight members of our alumni community. First up, Alanis Gonzalez, '18.

Alanis is a classicist and scientist whose research focuses on performance traditions in Ancient Greek Theatre and comparative myth. Her work exists at the intersection of Classics and Latin American Studies, as she illuminates the common historical conditions that lead to parallel myths developing in Latin American societies and the ancient Western world. “Our society has built the concept of itself on classics, even if they don’t realize it,” she says, “My work is to redefine the narrative of what that classical world was or wasn’t.” Her years at Roycemore prepared Alanis as an interdisciplinary thinker, independent learner, and empathetic communicator - now, as she continues her research and professional career, she’s taking a moment to look back at how Roycemore shaped her. 

Alanis’ research requires her to think and work in an interdisciplinary manner, a skill that she first learned at Roycemore. As an upper school student, she focused on preparing to become an ecologist but always had a deep fascination with the humanities, sparked by her AP World History class. Her experiences taking Spanish at Roycemore after growing up in a Spanish-speaking household introduced a love for the technicalities of language and grammar, something that informs the translation and interpretation work she does to this day. During our conversation, she remarked that “Roycemore was my first experience with interdisciplinary education,” and set her up to always consider things from multiple perspectives. This 

The field of classics is not Alanis’ only love. Current Roycemore families will recognize her as our Middle School Math and Upper School Anatomy and Physiology teacher. Returning to her alma mater allowed her to see how the school has changed, even in as short of a time as four years. “It’s like meeting a childhood friend who’s grown up,” she laughs. Experiencing Roycemore from a teacher’s perspective allowed her to recognize the effort and care our faculty put in to ensure that each student doesn’t just meet the bar but surpasses it. She’s also gotten the chance to revisit some of her favorite Roycemore memories, like Carnival. Alanis was a part of the team creating the haunted maze for two years of upper school and got to be the faculty supervisor for this year’s maze, which was a truly full-circle experience.

Being both a classicist and a scientist is integral to Alanis’ research. With dual degrees in Classics and Biochemistry from Grinnell University, she can’t help but see the connections between disparate disciplines. This is also informed by her experience as a dual-culture person as someone who moved between the worlds of northside Chicago and suburban Evanston as a teenager. Considering the alternate perspective has led her research into interesting places, such as using mathematical pattern recognition to identify the different ways Ancient Greek playwrights wrote the outcries of Greek citizens and foreigners. “In my work, a single field is never isolated, and I come from a high school that taught me that perspective,” she reflects.

In June, Alanis will head to Harvard as a member of the Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Research Scholar Initiative. This fully-funded post-baccalaureate research opportunity will allow her to progress in her research, deepen her technical skills, and continue learning Greek and Latin. In the upcoming year, her goals are about digging deeper into the history of classics, identifying what questions have already been asked, and inserting a new perspective into a well-established field. Eventually, Alanis hopes to be a classics professor, as her year at Roycemore confirmed how important teaching is to her. “It might sound cheesy, but I want to change the way people view classics,” she says. She hopes that her work challenges academics to view all disciplines with the same reverence they hold for classics: “It’s important to give researchers in other fields the opportunity to show who they are, were, and will be.”

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