Augmenting her interest in technology and law, the DPSS program fueled Cirillo's passion for inspiring other women to pursue leadership roles in male-dominated fields.
Headshot of Maria Eugenia Cirillo
Maria Eugenia Cirillo

Maria Eugenia Cirillo, DPSS’20, was exposed to law at a young age. “I was a defendant in the first child support lawsuit filed by my father when I was six years old and another when I was eighteen. The latter case is still pending. Since I have spent so much time reading legal documents with my mom and the lawyers, I began to consider law as a viable academic career to explore.”

Her academic career flourished, as Cirillo recently graduated with her Bachelor of Law from Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro.

It was while she was pursuing her degree that Cirillo became interested in the University of Chicago Data and Policy Summer Scholar (DPSS) program. “After Brazil enacted its first data-protection act, I wanted to better understand the technological side of technology law in order to further my legal understanding of the recently passed act. I realized DPSS’s data-driven approach and analytical tools could help me achieve this goal.”

And for Cirillo, the program delivered. “DPSS helped me acquire quantitative skills when I had little training from my background in human sciences. I've also been able to apply these skills to my classwork. During my final semester at Pontificia, I focused on my LL.B. thesis, which approached post-trading shares in the Brazilian Capital Markets and the impacts of blockchain in this system. The knowledge I acquired from DPSS not only helped me better understand the technological issues I was writing about but also improved my researching skills, which were very much tested during the thesis process.

“I'm confident these skills also will be invaluable in both my academic and career trajectory. Academically, DPSS prepared me for the next step in my academic journey, a post-bachelor program. And as I am now working on Corporate and Digital Law for a major Brazilian Law firm, my hands-on experience with data science during DPSS makes that easier.”

Cirillo also said she was pleasantly surprised at being able to bring some of her legal experience to her capstone project about mask mandates in the US. “Earlier in 2020, I had begun volunteering as a legal co-leader for SOS-3D: COVID-19, an organization that created 3D printed face shields and assisted hospitals with their early COVID response. It was rewarding to apply my experience to a study done in the US.”

The social aspects of DPSS also were invaluable for Cirillo. “I was able to bond with other DPSS participants by adding some of my favorite Brazilian songs onto a shared playlist. When you're completely open to learn and meet new people from different cultures, you will be surprised at the network you build. I encourage anyone interested in DPSS to enjoy the opportunity, because it can be life-changing.

“I want to make a difference and inspire other girls to pursue their goals. I know there is a gender gap in computer science, corporate law, and technology in general. I want to make an impact and make sure all girls know that they can do anything they want as long as they work hard.”