The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?

I worked for the Chilean Antitrust Authority, investigating cases that violated competition law and promoting best practices regarding market competition in different industries.

Why did you choose to attend SIPA?

I want to become an influential leader in Chile’s social public policies to contribute to a fairer society. I knew that to make a profound difference I needed to learn from global leaders in the field and that SIPA would provide the best foundation for launching me in this endeavor.

How did you pre-SIPA experiences help to prepare you to attend SIPA?

My experience as an economist, as well as having strong quantitative and analytic skills, and economic intuition helped me to navigate my economic-focused courses at SIPA. My experience working in the public sector exposed me to different policies and regulations, and allowed me to learn the importance of correct design and implementation. I could share these experiences and learned perspectives in classes, and they provided a point of reference while learning at SIPA. Finally, being hard working and open to learning prepared me to endure the more challenging moments at SIPA.

Why did you choose to concentration in Economic and Political Development (EPD) and specialize in Management?

I chose EPD because it was aligned with both my economic background and my interest in social policy. I saw the EPD concentration as fundamental in understanding the core challenges in the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies. EPD also allowed me to study different topics within development and to apply the learnings to real, complex situations through a SIPA Capstone Workshop, which is a central piece of the concentration.

I chose the Management specialization because I wanted to complement my analytic and quantitative skills with soft skills that would allow me to thrive by leading and engaging with people on my projects or ideas.

What are some highlights from your time at SIPA?

SIPA provided me with an array of experiences and opportunities. During spring 2020, I was part of the Center of Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) program, a full-semester program at Columbia Law School that immerses graduate students in the theory and practice of managing, governing, and transforming school systems and organizations. At CPRL, I worked with several school districts in New Mexico on designing an instructional materials strategy. That summer, I interned at CPRL, working with educational organizations in Connecticut to design guidance for remote education and reopening alternatives, and with a Brazilian foundation on a research project of best practices to professionalize the public sector. I continued to collaborate with CPRL during the fall 2020 semester, working in family support and equity on remote education.

In November 2020, I started working as project manager for my Capstone Workshop, which consisted of a formative evaluation of the education and women’s empowerment programs that the Middle East Children’s Institute offers in the West Bank, Palestine. The evaluation included a revision of the programs as well as the monitor and evaluation system, which our team conducted using mixed methods tools with several relevant stakeholders.

How has SIPA affected you?

SIPA widened my perspective on many topics, from education to fiscal policy. I have become more critical of development theory, and appreciative of different models of economic development and their flaws. I also developed applicable capacities to contribute and organize ideas in the policy world, and strengthen my self-confidence to achieve my goals. Most importantly, SIPA put me in contact with highly talented and inspiring professors and classmates from around the globe, from whom I have learned a lot. SIPA and the difficulties that we all experienced this past year taught me to lean on my friends and professors for advice and professional opportunities.

Is there a particular SIPA experience that stands out?

My Capstone Workshop project with the Middle East Children’s Institute was a very fruitful learning opportunity. As project manager, I had to lead and motivate the team to do hard work under unfavorable circumstances, e.g., not being able to travel or meet in-person and having team members in different time zones. Additionally, the project was directly related to my areas of interest and allowed me to enhance my understanding of the nuances of education programming and how to measure its effects. Finally, the workshop allowed me to work closely with Professors Julie Poncelet and Jenny McGill, whose support and feedback was essential to the success of the project.

What are your plans after SIPA?

I plan to work in education policy in New York City to gain insights about how to better administer resources in education through evidence-driven programs and policies. I start working with Consiliumbots, a nonprofit that helps students and families make better education decisions, in July. In the future, I would like to return to Chile to contribute to strengthening the education system and its efficiency in raising children and providing more opportunities to all families.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I would like to thank my family and friends for their support these last two years. Being a student at SIPA while also a mother was not easy, especially amid a pandemic. The care and support received, especially from my husband, was essential to being able to make the most of SIPA while enjoying the journey.