After completing her Master of International Public Affairs, Diana Rosales Mitte joined Ecuador's Ministry of Foreign Relations as a policy analyst focusing on migration policies.
The opportunity to choose classes and explore possible career paths prompted Diana Rosales Mitte to change her study-abroad semester into a three-year stay — and then to pursue a Master of International Public Affairs.
Rosales Mitte first came to Wisconsin from her home in Ecuador to study and learn English for a semester at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, which is about 45 miles southeast of Madison. "I really enjoyed the educational system, which is very different from home," she says. "There we do not have the flexibility to take electives and adapt our coursework to specific areas that might be of interest later in one' career."
Rosales Mitte majored in international business, but she also took international politics and international relations at UWW. "I became very interested in understanding and analyzing how U.S. policy affects Ecuador and the rest of the world," she says.
"After my classes in international politics and relations and the experience of studying and living abroad, I realized that doing business internationally goes beyond trade," Rosales Mitte adds. "There are so many actors involved—states, organizations, multinational corporations and policymakers all play very important roles.
She applied to U.S. policy schools, including La Follette's Master of International Public Affairs degree program. "I chose the La Follette School because it offers what I am looking for: a complete curriculum incorporating courses in economics, policy analysis and governance," says Rosales Mitte, who won the Ecuadoran government's prestigious Universities of Academic Excellence Scholarship that is covering her graduate school expenses.
In addition to her core courses in economics and policy analysis, Rosales Mitte is enjoying her class on social policy in Latin America. During the next three semesters, she plans to add courses on social and public policy in that region upon advice from La Follette School economist Menzie Chinn, whose papers she read for courses at UWW.
Having an adviser to consult is one of the benefits of the La Follette School's small program, Rosales Mitte says. "The small size of the school on a big campus like UW–Madison is a good fit for me," she adds. "I can take advantage of what the UW–Madison offers in a small setting such as La Follette, like working closely with faculty and staff who provide advice for my academics and professional career. That's something I would have not expected in a big school."
Rosales Mitte also appreciates the analysis skills she is learning. "They are teaching us all the analytical tools we will need to develop policy," she says. "By developing these tools in economics and statistics we know what is behind the policies we develop and recommend."
Later in the fall Rosales Mitte will start planning her summer internship by going home to Ecuador and making contacts in government agencies so she can explain what she is learning and what she can contribute during an internship.
Ultimately, Rosales Mitte hopes to work for Ecudaor's government in public policy related to human and economic development. "Ecuador is developing a lot of social protection policies, so there will be lots of opportunity," she says.
For now she is concentrating on her courses and mastering the basic quantitative skills in economics and statistics. "It is good that La Follette makes sure students learn these skills," she says. "We used the statistics software SPSS at UWW, but here we do the formulas by hand so we know where the numbers come from and how to figure out how things will be in the future."
"It's not just regression analysis," she adds. "Proposing public policy is more interesting, to figure out what will happen in the future. The tools I am learning to use at La Follette will help me to try to predict the future."