Yumbe hopes to leverage her degree to develop better policies for refugees and migrants.
Headshot of Patricia Yumbe
Patricia Yumbe

Having experienced involuntary migration firsthand, Patricia Yumbe wants to help future generations avoid the burdens she felt early in her childhood. Yumbe was born in Mexico City, but at the age of nine, her family immigrated to Vancouver, Canada.

“We had a great life in Canada, but then there was a sudden switch in the government,” Yumbe said. A policy shift in the Canadian parliament led to a significant overhaul of the immigration system, and Yumbe and her family were forced to return to Mexico after having established themselves in Canada. “When I had to return, it felt like an injustice—in a sense, it felt like deportation.”

On the duality of living in Canada and Mexico, Yumbe said, “There was an obvious contrast in public institutions. Public services could allow me to live a dignified life in Canada, but in Mexico that was not the case. And even though I was returning to the place where I was born, I didn’t know anybody. It was a lot to take in and required me to adapt very quickly.”

In 2015, Yumbe pursued her bachelor’s at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), where she studied international relations and political science. While at CIDE, she became fascinated with her economics and politics courses and their applications in policy evaluation: “It was almost like a puzzle.” Motivated by her own life experience, she actively engaged with issues surrounding involuntary migration. “I realized that public policy is the discipline that most directly affects people.” Yumbe even wrote a culminating thesis that explored the long-term effects of public policies that promote social engagement between refugees and host communities in Canada.

After completing her degree, Yumbe began working in the General Directorate of Protection for Mexicans Abroad for the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Mexico. “I worked on cases with Mexican migrants in the U.S., and have been able to learn the broader context of the loss that I experienced from a very personal perspective.” In addition to researching federal policies between state actors, she learned about county- and municipal-level border policies. “Those types of policies are typically invisible to people because they are not as high profile as federal policies, but they can still be very consequential.”

Yumbe said her decision to attend graduate school stemmed from interactions with master’s students while she was an undergraduate. “There were many events at CIDE that involved Harris alumni, including Mayra Cabrera [MPP’18], who works for the Ministry of Mobility in Mexico City. She has recently been a part of an effort to utilize behavioral science to reduce traffic infractions in the city and, like her, I want to be a part of a network of individuals solving social issues across different policy areas.”

Yumbe was also drawn to the Pearson Institute for the Study of Global Conflict and hopes to involve herself in their work. “I’m interested in doing research on the intake of certain populations like refugees and migrants. Eventually, I'd like to work with NGOs and civil society organizations to better policies for refugees and migrants.”

However, Yumbe said she is most excited about the opportunity to learn from fellow Harris students. “I look forward to the chance to have discussions with people with similar interests but different perspectives and professional experiences.”