Awa Maïga, MIPA

Portrait of Awa MaïgaContact Awa


Tombouctou, Mali

Undergraduate education

Bachelor’s degree in literature and English language, master of culture and business, certificate in communication

Professional/research interests

Education policy, international development, international organizations, nonprofits, gender and politics


Two published books in French

Expected graduation date

May 2024

Why a MIPA?

My strong passion for public policy comes from my belief in its potential to significantly improve people’s living conditions, enhance their well-being, and ensure equal access to opportunities. My decision to pursue a MIPA was driven by the desire to acquire a broader knowledge base, a more diverse professional background, an expansive network, and a refined skill set. These assets would prove invaluable as I aspire to translate theory into practice, contributing to the betterment of people’s lives, particularly in Africa and, specifically, women in Mali. My aim is to achieve this through the formulation and implementation of effective policies and political initiatives.

Why the La Follette School?

I was first introduced to the idea of attending La Follette through a former boss. I was deeply impressed by the remarkable expertise of the faculty. Moreover, I found the student body to be incredibly diverse, comprising individuals who are not only passionate but also driven to make a positive impact on the world.

At La Follette, the unwavering support of the faculty and the plethora of networking opportunities further enhanced my educational journey. The school’s emphasis on fostering connections and facilitating personal growth is a distinguishing feature that has greatly enriched my academic and professional pursuits.

Career goals

My aspirations revolve around a dual commitment. Firstly, I am keen on furthering my career and accumulating valuable experience within institutions and international organizations. Concurrently, I remain dedicated to the ongoing efforts of KITAB, an association I founded that empowers youth and women in Mali by providing access to higher education. Additionally, my long-term interests lie in the realm of politics, particularly with a focus on policy decision-making, implementation, and the evaluation of their outcomes. This extends to my deep-seated commitment to contributing to the betterment of Mali and Africa, and potentially beyond, if circumstances demand.


During my recent summer internship in Mali within CNFA as a communication and gender intern, I had a valuable opportunity to put my policy analysis and public management skills into practice. This experience allowed me to effectively analyze a public policy issue, draft a policy memo, and identify the relevant stakeholders, setting the stage for advocacy efforts. The knowledge and expertise gained from my La Follette classes were instrumental in guiding me through these tasks, providing me with a solid foundation in policy work. Furthermore, this internship significantly broadened my international perspectives. I was exposed to a wide array of global issues and realities, which has had a profound impact on my worldview. These experiences have been instrumental in shaping my journey towards achieving my career goals.


I have been serving as a project assistant at UW–Madison’s Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) for approximately two semesters now. In this role, I am responsible for managing IRIS’ communication channels, which encompass social media platforms, the website, and the IRIS screen board display. My objective is to enhance the institute’s internal and external image.

Additionally, I have the privilege of collaborating with all of IRIS’ centers, acting on behalf of my supervisor, who is the faculty director for IRIS. This multifaceted role involves attending general meetings, drafting meeting minutes, and providing suggestions when necessary. What makes this position particularly exciting is the opportunity it affords me to engage with all the centers on diverse projects, ranging from scholarships and language certificate or internship and study abroad programs to guest speaker lectures and conferences. Beyond the international perspective that naturally accompanies this role, it serves as a platform for both personal and professional growth, making it an incredibly rewarding experience.

Advice for prospective La Follette students

Embrace flexibility throughout your journey at La Follette, both in your approach to opportunities and in how you navigate your path. It’s essential to expand your network and engage in work that resonates with your interests. However, don’t hesitate to explore different experiences because it’s through these endeavors that you may discover new passions. I also think getting quantitative skills are also important as you want to work with people and data. Prioritize personal and professional development and remain open to embracing new cultures and sharing yours. Stay focused on honing your expertise in your chosen policy field. Seek guidance from the right individuals at the right moments and proactively plan for your future.

What has been your most challenging experience at the La Follette School?

Adapting to the intense educational system which is very different from what I have known so far. I also wish I had taken more quantitative classes before getting at La Follette. However, all the resources were available for me to navigate and overcome those challenges.

What has been the most rewarding experience at the La Follette School?

The most rewarding aspect of my time at the La Follette School has been the sum of all its parts. From the fellow students and dedicated faculty to the enriching classes and the various projects I’ve had the privilege to be a part of, each component has contributed to an immensely fulfilling experience. Together, they have created a profoundly rewarding journey.

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