Tatiana Paula da Cruz, MIPA

Tatiana Paula da CruzContact Tatiana


Cataguases, Brazil

Undergraduate education

Bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in law

Professional/research interests

Authoritarian populism, judicial politics, institutions in Latin America

Expected graduation date

Summer 2024

Why an MPA?

I’ve always been fascinated by the societal impact of institutions, particularly the importance of maintaining trust in these institutions for them to effectively achieve their objectives. My journey in law led me to study these aspects, with a focus on legal institutions such as courts and constitutions. However, after witnessing the effects of authoritarian populism on public perception of institutions, I decided to expand my research to encompass political institutions, including legal ones. Serving in the Brazilian Air Force, at the highest level of the Brazilian Executive Branch, inspired me to redefine my research goals. Enrolling at the La Follette School seemed like the optimal course of action, given its esteemed faculty that merges policy and political science, and its potential to help me excel as a policy analyst or researcher.

Why the La Follette School?

I sought to enhance my quantitative skills under the guidance of faculty with a rich background in policy and political science. I found no place better suited for this than the La Follette School!

Career goals

My aspiration is to serve as a political science professor, conducting research on subjects with real-world applications. My ultimate goal is to aid in the formulation of policies that are advantageous to developing nations, with a special emphasis on Latin American countries.

I am convinced that to improve society’s perception of political institutions, we need to delve deeper into the interplay between politics, law, and economics and understand better how bureaucracy works. Equipped with the resources provided by the La Follette School, I am hopeful of making significant discoveries in the field as a scholar.


I have been working as a lecturer in the Legal Studies Department for courses such as Criminal Justice in America, Law in Action, Criminal Law, and Politics with high course enrollment. The La Follette School helped me to enhance my teaching experience, while also investing in my research skills. My primary responsibilities are to prepare classes, teach, grade, and assist students to reach their maximum potential.

Work with clients

I am presently engaged in the final capstone project, collaborating directly with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. This experience has proven to be invaluable, offering me an intimate view of the criminal justice system and the profound societal impact of policy implementation.


During my time at the La Follette School, my greatest mentor has been Jean Vilbert (MIPA ’23), who is also a dear friend from Brazil. Jean graduated in 2023 and is currently pursuing his PhD in government at Harvard. From the application process to coursework selection and future planning, Jean has been my guide. I am forever grateful for Jean’s mentorship.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students

Prepare to be pleasantly surprised by a supportive and resourceful community! Keep in mind that the first year will require a significant commitment, especially for challenging courses like Introduction to Statistics and Microeconomics. Don’t hesitate to seek help when needed, as there will always be someone ready to assist you!

Most challenging La Follette School experience

The first-year courses and the contact with quantitative methods.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience

The support that La Follette always provided me in my research (conferences, publications, assistance from professors). It is always great to realize you are never alone in the new journey!

How has the La Follette School changed the way you think about public policy?

I spent nearly six years working closely with defense policy. My time at La Follette made me realize the immense value of the training we receive, and how beneficial it would be for every bureaucrat. The school enlightened me about best practices, strategies for achieving efficiency, and the importance of methodical planning before implementing projects.

Before La Follette

I was an assistant professor of law for two years and a legal advisor for the Brazilian Air Force (1st Lieutenant) for nearly six years.

People would be surprised if they knew that…

It is actually possible to leave your home country behind and still feel at home among a helpful and resourceful community that always wants you to strive! Thanks, La Follette!

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