Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Student Profile: Taina Guimaraes Alvarenga

Name:  Taina Guimaraes Alvarenga
Program: GPP/ 2016
Hometown: Campinas, Brazil
Occupation: Diplomat at the Embassy of Brazil in Washington D.C.

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
Going to graduate school was a plan I was postponing for a long time so I could focus on my professional career. When I started my assignment at the Brazilian Embassy, I knew that this would be a unique opportunity to get this project off the ground and make the most of my time in DC. The Global Policy Program (GPP) at SAIS offered the flexibility that I needed with the quality of education that I wanted. Since the GPP is a mid-career program, I was also attracted by the opportunity of interacting with professionals from different backgrounds and learning from their experiences.

What has been your favorite SAIS course so far, and why?
One of the highlights of the course so far was the simulation on international negotiations. Even though I already have some experience in this area, it was very useful to practice some skills in an academic environment. The simulation lasted for three days, and everyone was so committed to it that it felt very real. The entire process was interesting, from the readings we had to do beforehand to the debriefing after the simulation was over.  It was also the kind of experience that brought our cohort closer together and strengthened our friendship.

Where are you interning/working, and what type of work do you do?
I joined the Brazilian foreign service in 2009. Back home in Brasilia I worked with different issues, including Africa, the Middle East, and international organizations. I have also served for a short period in Turkey. At our Embassy in Washington I am in charge of the environment and space portfolio, which involves overseeing Brazil-US cooperation on issues such as climate change, biodiversity, water, and space policy.

What is some advice you would give to someone considering applying to a program like SAIS?
I would encourage them to participate as much as possible in the information sections and, if they have the opportunity, visit SAIS and attend some lectures and classes. It was by doing those things that I realized that SAIS was the school I was looking for. Taking care early on of the documentation you will need, like transcripts, letters of recommendation and test scores will make the admission process less stressful.

What advice would you give to applicants coming from outside the U.S.?
One of the most rewarding aspects about SAIS is the opportunity to study in a diverse environment. So international students should know that their participation is one of the things that makes SAIS great. Though this is a substantial investment and it might be quite challenging to find financial aid, I would encourage international students to be persistent and explore different fellowship opportunities.

Coolest trip you have taken with your peers?
I have the feeling that our coolest trip is yet to come. In November we will travel to India to work on our final projects. I can’t wait.