I’ve let a month slip by since I introduced the first member of the Class of 2008 to be profiled.  Continuing with the updates from this class who graduated just over five years ago, let me introduce Carmen Arce-Bowen.  I can remember working with Carmen during her application process, so it’s amazing to me that it has already been five years since she was at Fletcher!

CarmenI have always been very interested in learning about other cultures, their traditions, their food, their history and their language.  I come from a medium-sized town in Northern Mexico.  Most of our exposure to other cultures is only to the U.S., because of our proximity to it.

I was part of the Rotary Club Youth Exchange program after I graduated from high school.  I spent a year in Germany learning its culture and language.  This experience definitely solidified my desire to live in another country and be part of a multicultural and transnational community.  After my year in Germany, I returned to Guadalajara, Mexico to study law in a five-year undergraduate program.  While studying there, I met my now husband … who happened to be from Massachusetts!  We got engaged during my last year of law school and moved to Boston in the summer of 2005.

While in school in Mexico, I interned at the Economic/International agency of the state, at the National Immigration Institute, and at a local law firm.  At that time I wanted to study law in the U.S. to become an immigration law attorney and work with the Latino community.

I applied to LL.M. programs and to Fletcher, hoping eventually to complete both programs.  I learned about Fletcher from a good friend of my husband who had graduated just a few years before.  I was admitted to two LL.M. programs, but not to Fletcher.  I decided to attend one of the LL.M. programs and re-apply to Fletcher the following year.  I wanted to study policy and development, and take a more macro-level approach to immigration and other economic and social development issues.  Fletcher was my top and only choice for a policy graduate program.

I started the MALD program in the summer of 2006.  My Fields of Study were Development Economics and Latin America.  I interned at a local international development agency called Grassroots International for a summer and throughout one academic year.

My experience at Fletcher was an intense and very rewarding one.  Classes were definitely challenging, with all sorts of assignments, mid-terms and presentations.  But sometimes I just couldn’t believe that I had the opportunity to simply hang out and chat with my classmates (and professors) — all well-rounded, down-to-earth, smart people.  We came from different paths in life, but we all had the same desire to learn and change the world.

During my second year, I became president of the Latin America club.  We organized 10+ events with a budget of $500!  One of the events included all the Latin American consuls in the Boston area.  The consuls were grateful for this invitation and said that it was not very often they happened to be in the same room together.

Right after graduation, I worked for three years at a local non-profit organization doing economic and social development work.  We organized revenue campaigns, and trained grassroots groups on the importance of civic engagement, on government transparency, and on tax revenues in the state.  I did it all, from talking to the media, to training members of local unions, to writing blogs, to drafting grant proposals and grant reports.  I was also very involved locally in three nonprofit boards and as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women.  Networking has definitely been a key part of my professional development in Boston.

Two years ago, I came to work in the office of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick as Director of Personnel and Administration.   In the personnel office we oversee applications for justices of the peace, notaries public, and public administrators in the state, along with one-day marriage designations.  We also oversee the internship program for our office and run background checks on all high level managerial hires in the state.

My experience at Fletcher was one of the most rewarding of my life.  It shaped how I see the world, how I interact with my colleagues, and how I see life through the lens of global understanding.  I can only hope that I can pass all this experience to my three-year-old daughter – who hopefully will become a Fletcherite, too!

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