Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, April 21, 2022

Liliana Keomanivong Teniente, MPA

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Hometown
Madison, WI

Undergraduate education
Bachelor of arts in international studies, certificates in public policy, development economics, and Chicanx & Latinx Studies

Professional/research interests
Social Policy, Structural Belonging, Higher Education Policy, Government Administration

Accomplishments
Latinx Academic Staff Association (LASA) of UW–Madison, Latinx Graduation, Class of 2021 Graduate Speaker

Expected graduation date
2023

Why an MPA?
During my undergrad years, I focused on gaining meaningful work experience and I found a passion for serving diverse communities. I worked closely with a pre-college program, I interned at the U.S. House of Representatives in D.C., and I worked for a local non-profit focused on community supported agriculture. In my various professional experiences, I learned how administrative burdens, complex regulations, and systemic barriers exacerbate inequities. I decided to pursue an MPA in hopes of gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to influence and create better public policies. As a MPA student, one of my biggest goals is learning how to frame policies and political discourse in ways that are culturally sensitive to ensure tangible and sustainable impacts on diverse communities.

Why the La Follette School?
I am a Madison native, and this city has been my family’s home since my grandparents came to Wisconsin as migrant farmworkers. As a true believer in “The Wisconsin Idea,” I have always sought to take my own learning beyond the boundaries of this campus, help others, and create positive change. La Follette provides a wide network of policy professionals, professors, and mentors who are excited to help students. The program also provides a challenging core curriculum while allowing students the flexibility to take courses from other departments.

Career goals?
My ultimate career goal is to make contributions at the intersections of policy, education, and social justice. In the future, I can see myself working in a leadership position at a federal or state agency, or at a university program that works to empower underserved students and families.

Assistantship
I currently work as a Project Assistant for a pre-college program called the Information Technology Academy (ITA) where I teach College Prep and ACT Prep classes to Madison-area high schoolers in alignment with UW-Madison’s Diversity Framework.

Securing funding was a big part of my grad school decision. Luckily, there are so many graduate assistantships available at UW-Madison that come with tuition remission!

Mentors
The summer before I started off at La Follette, I was paired with Kelsey Gordon as peer partners. We first met at Bar Corallini and she gave me a lot of valuable insight about her experience at La Follette. Kelsey gave me the honest advice I needed to successfully navigate my first year of grad school and really was the first person to make me feel welcome at La Follette!

Advice for prospective La Follette School students?
Continuously work on becoming a more effective self-advocate and believe in yourself!

There will be difficult times when you doubt your ability to remain resilient, but always remember the reasons why you began this journey. Lean on your support system and the people who truly understand and appreciate your true self.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience?
My involvement with La Follette’s DE&I Student Advisory Committee has enabled me to take part in work that promotes a more supportive learning environment here at La Follette. This work inspires me, and it has helped me form closer bonds with colleagues as we strive to create a better sense of belonging for everyone in the La Follette community.

People would be surprised if they knew that I …
Never travelled outside of the U.S. before college. Once I started undergrad, I was eager to travel and I studied abroad in Brazil, India, and (almost) Thailand before the pandemic began in 2020.

Anything else?
My favorite books include anything written by Isabel Allende or Junot Díaz. Some of my favorite TV shows are Pose, Insecure, and Gentefied.