Thursday, April 21, 2016

Student Profile: Lorena Americano Valente

Lorena Valente is a prime example of a student taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by a graduate school education, and we couldn't be more proud to have her as a SAISer. In her two years at SAIS, Lorena has successfully juggled full-time studies with leading two student organizations, serving as a research assistant, interning, and working on and off campus. Prior to joining the SAIS community, Lorena studied Political Science and Sociology at George Washington University. In addition to traveling internationally to address political and economic relationships, Lorena traveled to several countries during her tenure as a professional tennis player.

Name: Lorena Valente
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Program/Class: MA/2016
Concentration: Latin American Studies

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
I chose SAIS due to many different reasons. First, SAIS has a high rank and incredible reputation among academics and employers in the field of international affairs and business. Second, SAIS has an extensive alumni network that is always willing to help. Third, its employment outcomes were outstanding, and when talking to current students, they all emphasized the quality of career services staff and resources. Fourth, its economic focus was very important to me. I wanted to not only learn economics, but also gain advanced expertise that would be recognized in any field. Fifth, SAIS has a wide range of skills courses that focuses on professional skills, such as, policy memo writing, consulting skills, excel, stata, and public speaking, among others. Sixth, its location in the heart of Washington DC was very attractive to me. At SAIS you are just a few minutes from the White House, the World Bank, the IMF, and many consultancy firms, which makes interning and working while at SAIS much easier. Finally, due to its location and reputation, SAIS is able to get a variety of high-level speakers to talk about current events to its students and alumni.

Can you tell us about your concentration, and why you chose it?
I am a Latin American Studies concentrator. I chose my concentration due to my personal interest in Latin America (I am from Brazil), as well as for the many resources that the program has to offer. LASP not only has a strong reputation, but it also counts with world-class faculty, like Dr. Gonzalez and Dr. Roett. Moreover, since LASP has a focus on sending its students to Latin America for their summer internships, the alumni connections are amazing and the program has a specific person – Anne McKenzie - that helps students throughout career and personal development. In addition, LASP has a range of tracks that students can pick from, which allows one to focus on an policy area, those include, political economy, finance and emerging markets, energy and the environment, international development, and foreign policy. Finally, LASP has study trips that allow students to have first hand experience on several current themes. I have recently traveled to India to address India-Latin America’s growing political and economic relationships.

What are some other activities you're involved in at SAIS?
SAIS has so much to offer and I try to get involved as much as I can. I currently serve as the Treasurer for the Student Government Association and as Chair for the Clubs Committee. I also serve as a leader of two clubs (SAIS Corps and Latin American Studies Club), as a SAIS Student Ambassador and MA Applicants Interviewer for the Admissions Team, and as part of the Career Services Development Team. Being involved helps me build strong relationships with faculty, staff, and students. Students at SAIS are the most incredible people you will ever meet, and being involved allows me to talk to a majority of them and to learn about their exceptional backgrounds.

Where are you interning/working, and what type of work do you do?
During my entire time at SAIS I have been interning/working. On my first semester I worked as a research assistant to the Latin American Studies Department. By doing so, I collected, analyzed, and summarized data to be used as statistical and analytical references to support statements and opinions to be implemented in Dr. Roett’s future publications. On my second semester, I worked as an associate at Albright Stonebridge Group in the Latin American and Brazil practice. While at ASG, I conducted political and economic risk analyses for the management of Fortune 200 companies, allowing them to make informed decisions to capitalize on Latin American markets. During the summer and the fall semester of my second year at SAIS, I worked as a graduate fellow at McLarty Associates for the Brazil and the Southern Cone practice. There, I monitored political and economic developments and performed open-source research in multiple languages, including Portuguese and Spanish, to provide concise analyses to clients in various industries, including energy, financial services, technology, oil & gas, and health. Finally, in my last semester, I am doing a consultancy for the Inter-American Development Bank where I research, analyze, and write recommendations to government leaders in Latin America about the efficiency of their state-owned enterprise system.

What has surprised you the most being at SAIS? 
What has surprised me the most about SAIS is how collaborative it is. Coming into SAIS, I was concerned that among such a great pool of students the environment would be very competitive, not only in classes, but also when it comes to job search. It was actually just the opposite. I cannot tell you how many times I had fellow students help me prepare for interviews, or send me job postings they believed I was a good fit for. Moreover, economics does not come easy to me, but I found a great study group that has truly enhanced my learning experience.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I believe that people would be surprised to know that I used to play junior, collegiate, and professional tennis. I started playing tennis when I was four years old and by the time I was eleven, I was playing national tournaments in my home country of Brazil. When I was fifteen I became the number one player in Brazil, which caused me to move to Paris, France to play professional tournaments. Tennis allowed me to constantly travel to different countries and to be exposed to a variety of cultures enhancing my global perspective. Upon realizing that I wanted a career in international affairs I was recruited with a full scholarship by many Division I schools in the US, which is what brought me to the George Washington University for my undergraduate degree.