New Student Series Part 3: Ana Cristina Canales Gómez

For Part 3 of our series, meet Ana Cristina Canales Gómez. Ana is a veterinarian from Santiago, Chile, and she currently works at the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture. She enjoys riding horses in her free time, and looks forward to a change of pace by living in New York City and networking with international organizations and their leaders. Here are Ana’s responses to the New Student Survey.  

Full Name: Ana Cristina Canales Gómez
Program: Master of International Affairs
Concentration: Economic and Political Development
Specialization: International Organization & UN Studies
Anticipated Graduation Year: 2017
Hometown: Santiago de Chile

Undergraduate university, major and graduation year:
Universidad de Chile, Veterinarian, 2007

What’s your professional background?
I am a veterinarian and I am currently working at the General Directorate of International Economic Relations (DIRECON) of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At DIRECON I work in the Regulatory Department, implementing and negotiating matters related to TBT, SPS and Regulatory Coherence, particularly on agrifood trade. Before my current post I worked at the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture as the National Contact Point for Codex Alimentarius, a FAO/WHO joint Commission that elaborates food safety standards, and is one of the references for the WTO SPS Agreement. 

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
I applied to SIPA because I wanted to get into a leading school on the International Affairs field, so I could gain experience on the path I’m already involved in, and that I really enjoy, which is international trade, and particularly, on how facilitating trade and market access could help developing countries to increase their social and economic welfare, involving smallholders.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
Extremely happy and proud, it is the best sensation ever to be accepted in such a good School. And actually, something that I was not expecting maybe, is how friendly and warming are the people at SIPA. Right from the beginning I received emails and letters welcoming and congratulating me, providing me with help and answers to every (even slightly stupid) questions, and trying their best to make you feel “wanted”… I am really grateful for the attitude and effort shown by everyone at SIPA.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
Because it is an excellent and prestigious program, and the University offered me financial aid straight away, which has two positive outcomes: one is, it’s REALLY helpful; and the other, again, you feel welcome and valuable for the school.

[Photo Courtesy of Ana Cristina Canales Gómez.]
[Photo Courtesy of Ana Cristina Canales Gómez.]

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
The “hands on” experience, the classmates and teachers and all the experience that this will imply. One of the things that I look forward the most is the opportunity to work in International Organizations, leaders in their field, that are set in New York, and that work closely with SIPA. Well and of course, living in NYC!!

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
I’m looking forward to August 31st, but right now I’m a bit worried about financial issues associated to MIA. I’m applying to a national scholarship program, and all the “plan B’s” that I can find. It is quite stressing to think that there is a chance that I won’t be able to attend SIPA just because I can’t find funding to compliment my own resources.

What are your goals after SIPA?
Getting a better, fulfilling, meaningful job.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
In Chile, we witness every day how unfair the access to education, jobs, opportunities, and almost everything, is. I would really like to improve fairness in opportunity access, so that people can improve their live conditions based on merit and effort, instead of surnames and high-school. On a global level, I would like to help “level” conditions amongst developed and developing countries; there is a huge offer on cooperation, and a strong will to help, but on many occasions such resources don’t find proper recipients.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I like studying (bit of a nerd maybe), like sports, I’m horserider since I’m 3 years old and that really marked me, helps me understand issues and handle them in a different way, and, finally, makes my everyday life so nice. For that, and much more, I am grateful everyday, for I have been given amazing opportunities (like, for instance, being accepted at SIPA), and I really would like to pay it forward.  I like to share and get to know new people, travel, learn about other cultures and history.

If you’d like to participate in the series, please email us at sipa_new@columbia.edu to share your personal admissions story, what your summer vacation will entail/did entail, or anything else you think your peers would enjoy reading about! You may submit a blog post of your choosing, or submit the New Student Survey with pre-populated questions to get you started. And don’t forget to submit a photo or two to help us visualize your story!

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