González-Guerra, a Guadalajara native, plans to return to Mexico and influence policy with the skills she is learning at Harris.
Ana Dora González-Guerra Núñez
Ana Dora González-Guerra Núñez

As someone always interested in challenging herself, Ana Dora González-Guerra Núñez, MPP’19, chose to attend the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy because she believed it was the program that would help her to expand her skillset the most.

“I knew I had certain soft skills,” González-Guerra says, “but going to the University of Chicago would take me out of my comfort zone and allow me to develop skills I didn’t have.”

Before coming to Chicago, González-Guerra was previously the COO at a social enterprise in Mexico that aims to integrate marginalized communities into the labor market. The organization helps low-income women become micro-entrepreneurs in a way that is sustainable and allows them better access to markets. While at the enterprise, González-Guerra worked with businesses to understand their models and connect them with low income women in a way that was mutually beneficial.

After working at the social enterprise for four years, she began to think she needed to learn more to become a more complete analyst and influencer.

“I chose to study public policy because I wanted to understand the root of a problem and develop solutions from there,” says González-Guerra, explaining that, when she was deciding on graduate programs, reaching out to Harris students helped her understand Harris’ programs.

She vividly remembers talking to a Harris student who had exams coming up and seemed busy, but the student gave González-Guerra the time she needed to ask questions and was honest with her.

“It gave me a good sense of how people are at Harris, a sense of the community,” González-Guerra says.

Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, González-Guerra says community was especially important to her when she first arrived at Harris. Coming to Chicago from a different country made her – and some of her family members – nervous; regardless, González-Guerra immersed herself in the Harris experience.

“When I arrived at math camp, I was trying to meet as many people as I could. Every time I got to know one of my classmates, I felt a rush because they are all so amazing,” González-Guerra says. “My approach was to try as many activities as I could to broaden my world here.” In her first year, González-Guerra was in several Harris student organizations, including the Harris Ventures Club, the Behavioral Economics Club, and Latin America(n) Matters. This year, she is President of the University’s Mexican Student Association.

González-Guerra also got to know her peers while honing her quantitative skills by attending math camp, taking an extra calculus class, and utilizing as many academic resources as possible.

“I didn’t have a quantitative background before coming to Harris. A lot of people were in the same position I was, but the University provides a lot of resources for you to master the material so you can hit the ground running,” says González-Guerra, adding that working with classmates helped her learn.

“It is competitive here, but we’re competitive in a way that allows others to be the best they can be,” González-Guerra says.

With graduation approaching quickly, González-Guerra plans to return to Mexico but does not have any other post-graduate plans solidified – which is fine with her.

“I’m more confident in what I know," she says. "I know I want to bring knowledge from behavioral sciences and economics [in the U.S.] to public policy in Mexico."