Meet Paulina Ugalde
Raza Development Fund is proud to welcome Pauline Ugalde, RDF’s Investment Analyst, to our team of experts. She joined the Familia earlier this month with enthusiasm to support community development and expertise in data analytics.
After recently receiving her master’s in public policy, and overcoming obstacles along the way, Paulina has spent the last couple of weeks diving in to learn all she can about RDF’s investment projects and our team.
As she gets to know RDF, we decided to get to know her as well and share a glimpse into our newest expert with a Q&A.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Queretaro, Mexico. I was born and raised there by my dad. In 2016, I moved to Hobart, Indiana with my mom and my two children for a change of pace. Finally, in February of 2021, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. My fiancé is in military training in Sierra Vista.
Why did you choose to study Public Policy?
After receiving my bachelor’s degree in economics, I contemplated pursuing a masters in the same field. However, after a conversation with a couple people who were in a similar program, I realized that I really wanted the work that I do to have a bigger impact, to help people live a better life. I want to make my community better.
Public Policy not only looks at federal policies, but I really enjoy the work that’s more granular dealing with state, local and community development that impact small communities.
What did you enjoy most during your studies?
Last summer, I spent two months working with the Latino Policy Forum running statistics on COVID-19 data. I also had the opportunity to work on a data revenue project for a consulting firm where I had to conduct analysis on where money was coming from.
Tell us about any obstacles you have faced and overcame.
I remember that at the time I was putting together my application for graduate school, there were instances where I let the impostor syndrome get to me. Particularly, there was an event from which I drove back home crying because I felt so out of place. The school held an event for minority applicants where they could show us the services they provided. I was one of two Mexican-American students, the only one that came from a non-Ivy League or highly recognized school, and the only one that had children.
Regardless, my mentors, Surekha K. Rao, my former professor and Cynthia O’Dell, who I worked with in the student affairs dept during my undergraduate program, showed me incredible support. They told me there’s no reason why I wasn’t qualified. I pushed through my application.
I cried with joy when I received the acceptance letter. I knew this would have an impact on the life of my children and the path that I would take in the future.
It’s a story many of us have felt and definitely speaks to the importance for opportunities in the Latino community. Why do you think it’s important to share stories like this?
I recently told that story on LinkedIn. I don’t normally put myself out there on social media, but I decided to share this. When I did, I received messages back from others saying, “What you said resonated with me. I’m glad to see that there’s other people that experienced the same thing as me.” Now reflecting on it, I think it’s empowering to know someone else went through that and they thrived even after they felt that way.
A mentor connected with Catherine Kes, RDF’s Director of Specialty Finance, because he felt I would be interested in the work we do here. And he was right. After speaking with Catherine, I was excited to hear about all the projects we do, but also that we connect with the community, and we get to see how the project enfolds.
I like talking to people and understanding how policies affect them. I’m very passionate about anything that I do. I’m very purposeful. I really want the things I do to have an impact on other people, so I put a lot of effort into it.
We are sure she will make a positive difference here at RDF. We are excited to have you, Paulina!