Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, April 4, 2011

Estol-Peixoto welcomes practical application of MIPA program

Rosina Estol-Peixoto


After graduating in May 2012 with a Master of International Public Affairs degree, Rosina Estol-Peixoto became a consultant with the Inter-American Development Bank, working on a study for its Operations Procurement Office.

In fall 2011, Estol-Peixoto started a project assistantship with professor Mark Copelovitch. She interned with the World Council of Credit Unions in Madison in summer 2011.

After Rosina Estol-Peixoto started working at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., she saw how her research influenced public policy in Central American countries.

"Country reports, country programs and the bank strategy for several countries were designed and prepared to reach government representatives in developing countries," Estol-Peixoto says. "I felt that my work had a very important meaning, and it made me feel more conscious of what I was part of. I started to realize that the type of work I enjoyed the most was analytical policy research that can be used to make public policy."

When Estol-Peixoto's two-year contract with the bank ended in 2009, she came to Madison to join her husband, who is pursuing a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics. She studied for the Graduate Record Exam and the Test of English as a Foreign Language and looked at options for graduate study. 2009 La Follette alum Paulina Calfucoy recommended the school's Master of International Public Affairs degree. Estol-Peixoto was accepted and offered a fellowship. "I am very proud of being a La Follette fellow, and I am also very grateful for having this incredible opportunity to study in the United States," she says. "Otherwise, it would be impossible for me to afford my studies."

Estol-Peixoto graduated with her bachelor's degree in economics in 2004 from ORT University in Uruguay, her native country. She held a Ford Foundation fellowship and research assistantship through which she worked at the Center of Studies of State and Society (CEDES) in Argentina. She then worked for a research center, CINVE, in Uruguay.

"At CINVE, I worked on many projects but particularly on one about institutions, trade and growth in Uruguay in relation to involvement in the Mercosur regional trade agreements," Estol-Peixoto says. A book published by the Mercosur Economic Research Network included a chapter on the work Estol-Peixoto did with Rosa Osimani.

ORT University asked Estol-Peixoto to join the staff as a teaching assistant while she was working at CINVE. "I assisted with classes in economics of the public sector and political economy," she says. "It was definitely an excellent opportunity to learn while teaching, and at the same time a very challenging and dynamic experience."

Estol-Peixoto says her experiences at the La Follette School build on her professional work, in which she collaborated on policy dialogue papers, bank country strategies, portfolio management and regional technical cooperation operations. "This experience taught me all the implicit dilemmas associated with the design and application of economic and public policies, which I am exploring further at La Follette," she says.

She appreciates the rigor of the La Follette program. "Classes train students in the core features of policy analysis with weekly assignments that make students think and be able to adapt to the demanding pressures that will come from real jobs," she says. "Graduate school at La Follette is a real practice of what life is."

She also welcomes the challenge of going to school in another country. "I am improving my English, and I am learning how to adapt myself to a different education system," she says. "The greatest challenge is to learn how to think and how to follow this approach. It implies thinking and expressing in another language, following different rules, and being able to adapt to the demanding class schedules."

Estol-Peixoto is focusing her studies on international development. She hopes to receive a project assistantship for her second year. Long term, her professional plans depend on the best opportunities for her husband's career as an agronomist and hers as a public servant.

Whatever Estol-Peixoto does, her career will build on the impact her work has had. "It could be through research, by expanding knowledge," she says. "It could be through public policy, by providing specific analysis that could be used to implement public policies in different countries. I have always dreamt about being able to use my job as a means to contributing to society in different ways."

— updated December 11, 2011