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Nathalie Mendez ‘21: Service Through Social Change

Nathalie Mendez '21 was empowered to continue her nearly decade-long career in the public sector when she received a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in political science.

By Amber Francis ‘22

Photo of Nathalie Mendez smiling.

Nathalie Mendez was empowered to further her career and advocate for social change by a Fulbright scholarship.

Native Colombian Nathalie Mendez ‘21 is a keen advocate for social change, an ideal the service-driven fifth-year political science Ph.D. student has no qualms with backing up through action.

Prior to her time at Texas A&M University, Mendez had already engaged in activities that contributed to social problem solutions in her home country. In addition to being a graduate student, Mendez is the co-principal investigator for the World Values Survey in Colombia, an organization that seeks to explore human values throughout the application of the largest survey in social sciences in the world.

“I believe that public servants and citizens are key actors for social change,” Mendez asserted. “I am interested in understanding how their attitudes and behaviors shape policy outcomes, and also how public and private interventions promote behavioral changes.”

Driven to enter the public sector out of a love for service and for her country, Mendez utilized her passion and drive to assemble an impressive resume with more than eight years of real-world experience to back it up, having worked as coordinator of the National Center for Historical Memory in Colombia and as an advisor for the National Planning Department. Both of which are no small feat.

Perhaps most notably, Mendez was also involved in the design of instrumental policies needed for the transition from war to peace in Colombia. Throughout this process, Mendez did everything from designing programs and indicators, to having meetings with governors, mayors, and even the Columbian president. All these efforts were necessary for implementing the peace agreement in Colombia after six decades of civil war.

“I love to serve people, so the public sector has always been a meaningful way to do it,” Mendez shared.

Eventually, Mendez came to be at Texas A&M through one of her advisors, whom she had initially met back in Colombia about six years ago. Upon seeing her potential as a researcher, he informed her about the opportunities Texas A&M offers. Mendez realized a Ph.D. from Texas A&M in political science was the perfect setting to further explore her interests, and the rest was history.

“My experience has been incredible,” Mendez said. ”Coming here was the best decision I could ever make, both at the personal and professional level.”

Mendez’s Ph.D. in political science will allow her to be part of a top-level academic institution back in her country. She is confident all the knowledge and skills she earned throughout her doctoral program will help accomplish her teaching and research goals in the future, thus enabling her to contribute even more to the field of academia, both in Columbia and Latin America as a whole.

Throughout her academic journey at Texas A&M, Mendez pointed to the assistance offered to her through her Fulbright scholarship as instrumental to both her research and academic careers, offering her gratitude to donors who fund research at all levels.

“I cannot be more thankful for all your support and help I received to conduct my fieldwork,” Mendez proclaimed. “I’ve found very interesting results and donor funding was crucial to achieving my research goals. Your contribution to education is outstanding, these projects are and will be very relevant for improving our disciplines and public policies.”