Tamez plans to use her MPP to reduce inequality in Mexico and help vulnerable groups in Mexico and across Latin America.
Headshot of Karla Tamez
Karla Tamez

Karla Tamez, through years of nonprofit work, brings deep experience in government accountability to Harris. She graduated from the University of Monterrey in 2013, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies with a concentration in the regional studies of America. “I chose to study international relations because I was curious about different cultures and different perspectives. As a multidisciplinary program, it had history, geography, economics, and politics—I was attracted to that because I wanted to learn about a little bit of everything,” she said.

After graduating, Tamez established herself in the nonprofit sector and worked for Cómo Vamos Nuevo León, an organization that promotes government transparency and citizen participation. There, she worked on local government evaluation projects dealing with everything from open government to air quality to crime rates. “I never got bored,” Tamez said.

When asked what she found especially rewarding during her five years with the organization, Tamez said, “One of the most valuable things we did was generate data and analysis—information the government didn’t have. Without the data and information we gathered, public policy cannot be well-formulated—it turns into politics instead of a data-driven approach.” Another valuable experience Tamez noted was collaborating with  Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León to collect perceptions people had on a variety of issues, particularly issues difficult to measure, such as transportation and mobility.

Her time in the nonprofit sector also opened Tamez’s eyes to how important data is in developing effective policy—and to the fact that it’s a tool many public servants don’t know how to use. “I have a lot of good skills, but the quantitative component was missing,” she said. “I realized it was time to challenge the status quo, and I knew I wanted to improve how policies are formulated in Mexico and Latin America more broadly.”

Tamez said she has been planning to go to graduate school since before college. “If I want to make an impact in Mexico, I need to get the skills necessary to change things—and I want to stand out professionally because of those skills, not just because of politics or any connections I have.” Tamez knew she wanted to attend a two-year program, either in the U.S. or the U.K., and with a quantitative focus. UChicago Harris quickly rose to the top of her list.

“I felt like I was a part of Harris before I even applied,” Tamez said. “The admissions team was great, and Harris simply had everything I was looking for.” She also said she was drawn to Harris’ broad offering of certificates and large numbers of students from countries beyond the U.S. “The high percentage of international students was different than other schools I looked at, and that diversity presents a unique opportunity for me and others to learn from peers of other backgrounds.”

For prospective applicants, Tamez advises starting the process well in advance. “One of the things that helped me was to start the process a year before applying; it gave me a lot of time to process all the information, to discard programs, to develop parameters, and really decide what I wanted.”

After completing her Master of Public Policy at Harris, Tamez aims to return to nonprofit work with the goal of reducing inequality in Mexico and helping vulnerable groups in Mexico and across Latin America. “I’ve seen that you can really transform things in the nonprofit sector, and I want to improve how to formulate and evaluate public policies with a data-driven approach.”