Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, October 19, 2020

Victor Escalona, MPA

Victor Escalona Victor Escalona

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Hometown
Concepcion, Chile

Undergraduate education
Ingenieria Comercial, which exists only in Chile and is a five-year blend of bachelor degrees in business and administration and in economics

Professional/research interests
Public management, especially in education

Accomplishments
My biggest achievement is having a beautiful family, but probably that is more my wife’s achievement. Similarly, as a professional, my achievements are not only mine but I would like to highlight two things: First, working on education, the creation of a program to increase and measure students’ happiness and its implementation in more than 20 schools. Second, working in healthcare, as a city team we significantly influenced the increment in the national budget for primary healthcare.

Expected graduation date
May 2021, with certificate in strategic innovation

Why an MPA?
Before pursuing a master’s degree, I was lucky to work for six and a half years in charge of the departments of education and primary healthcare for the municipality of Valdivia, Chile. In that position, I realized that I needed more tools to make a more significant contribution to society. Many times, I wanted to do more, and I felt that formal education in public affairs would help me to do it.

This same experience leading organizations moved me to pursue the certificate in strategic innovation. As a public manager, I wanted and want to improve society through my work, and for that our organizations must innovate in their strategies and practices.

Why the La Follette School
Many things: First, UW–Madison is a great university; second, the La Follette School is a great school in social policy; third, the Wisconsin Idea, which is all about service; fourth, Madison is a great city to enjoy with your family.

Career goals
I want to lead educational organizations to help their students to be happy and have meaningful lives. I also want to influence Chilean educational policies as a practitioner.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
The La Follette School has helped me better understand the policymaking process and some of the pitfalls of our democracies. It also has helped me think a lot about how to improve our society.

Also, I have had the opportunity to take management courses that have helped me rethink my leadership experiences and learn from the courses. Finally, I have had the opportunity to learn from wonderful classmates so many different thinks that will help me to be a better professional but also a better person.

Project assistantship
Yes, I have been lucky enough to have a project assistantship at the La Follette School. I am working with the outreach team on different projects, but mainly working with databases and Excel, something that I should admit I enjoy.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
One thing that I have learned in my professional experience is that it not only matters what your job is but also with whom you work. The same applies to pursuing a master's degree, and I can tell you from my experience that at the La Follette School you are going to find a ton of very good people, staff, and faculty members trying to help you along with a whole community trying to improve this world.

What has been your most challenging experience at the La Follette School?
Taking three summer courses plus my assistantship; summer courses are very condensed.

Most rewarding experience at the La Follette School
Finding good people in the La Follette School community and having the time to think about what I want in my professional career. 

How has the La Follette School changed the way you think about public policy?
Policy Making Process (PA 874) was an eye-opening course that helped me better understand political motivations and patterns. Now, I see how challenging it is to change important policies like those related to education.

The Wisconsin Idea
I love the Wisconsin Idea. I hope that the work I did in the courses in which we worked with real clients contributes to the whole community. I am also working in the La Follette School’s Outreach Team, so I am also collaborating to share our knowledge with the whole State. Finally, I have been thinking a lot about how to improve our society, and I hope that this reflection could bear some fruit in the future.

Anything else?
I cannot talk about me without talking about my wife and kids; they make every effort more meaningful. My wife has done a terrific job keeping the balance of our family, especially in this time of COVID with our kids all day at home. My thee kids and my wife make my life full of happiness. I also should mention my gratitude to the good God, that brought us to this great school, university, and city.

Favorite book
Beneath a Scarlet Sky was the last book that I would have given six stars, not just five.

People would be surprised if they knew that I …
... can give great speeches, or at least I been told so, but only in Spanish.

Languages spoken
Spanish and English