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Duke graduate students gain career insights during D.C. visit

Members of the Sanford Latin American and Caribbean student group connected with alumni and professionals at a variety of organizations, including the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and Pan-American Development Foundation.

A group of Duke University graduate students, who are members of the Sanford Latin American and Caribbean organization, spent a portion of their spring break in Washington, D.C., exploring career opportunities with multilateral and national organizations focusing on international development issues facing the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The students, who are part of the Master of International Development Policy (MIDP), Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Population Health Sciences and Public Policy doctorate programs, met with professionals, many of whom are Duke Sanford School of Public Policy alumni, from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), UnidosUS, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, National Immigration Law Center, Dechert LLP, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Pan-American Development Foundation. The representatives discussed their organizations’ work and their professional journeys, including lessons learned and challenges faced as Latinx in the U.S.

Roberto Obando MPP ’02, project director and chief of party at the Pan American Development Foundation, shared advice based on his more than 20 years of work in international development, highlighting what he believes is needed to be successful and affect change for the greater good of marginalized populations.

At the Duke in D.C. office, Ichiro Toda MIDP ’98, senior evaluation officer in the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, spoke about his experience in development finance and how public-private partnerships are leveraged for international development.

The group also learned about impact investment and social development consulting from Oscar Farfan MIDP ’05, senior investment officer at the Inter-American Development Bank; Elsa Chang MIDP ’93, social development consultant, social cluster, environmental safeguards unit at the Inter-American Development Bank; and Daniela Tort MIDP ’15, technical assistance officer at the International Monetary Fund.

The trip concluded with meeting Chad Sarchio PPS ’92, senior attorney, intelligence law at the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Christina Sarchio, partner at Dechert LLP. The power couple spoke about working in the private and public sector, work-life balance, and what it takes to be successful and agents of change.

In addition to the presentations, the students networked with alumni during an evening social event.

Connecting with alumni and professionals was a highlight of the trip for many of the participants. For Camila Herrera MPP ’24, co-president of Duke Sanford Latin American and Caribbean, the experience showed the importance of building relationships.

“Networking is not just about exchanging business cards or LinkedIn connections,” she said. “It’s about building authentic relationships with people who can help you achieve your goals.”

The professional development trip was organized by the Sanford Latin American and Caribbean executive board and supported by the Duke Center for International Development and Sanford’s Office of Career Services and Office of Alumni and Development.