July 31, 2023

JSI Scholar: Alejandro Rene Ortiz Lopez

Tell us about your story

My name is Alejandro Ortiz, and I am an incoming fourth-year international student in the University of Florida (UF). Venezuela was my home until I was seventeen, where the humanitarian and political crisis first ignited my passion for public policy and service. I came to the United States pursuing better educational opportunities, having a full-ride scholarship to finish high school at an UWC international boarding school in New Mexico. Sharing with people from over 98 countries in the student body, I reaffirmed my passion for the improvement of my communities and started to think about policy with international scope as a potential professional pathway. I moved to Gainesville, Florida, to double major in Economics and Political Science at the UF Honors Program with a full-ride scholarship. When not studying, I spend most of my time working as a student leader in Student Government and Student Organizations, working as a Student Admissions Officer, and conducting academic research. My dream job is working as a public policy consultant or an political economy specialist in a multilateral organization, and I am beyond excited to spend this summer in Seattle as a PPIA fellow.

What path did you take when you first started college?

I explored different student organizations, as I wanted to find a community at UF and experience different hobbies. I tried dance teams, cultural organizations, and student government politics. I realized on my Freshman year that international students at UF generally struggled finding communities and creating a sense off belonging, which was reflected on the skyrocketing mental health issues throughout internationals. I created a student organization that created a support system to international students through mentorship programs; it was a life-changing experience. Since then, I have dedicated most of my college experience to fostering an inclusive environment at the University of Florida, regardless of their socio-economic background, political affiliation, religion, ethnicity, or race.

What made you consider a career in public policy/public service/international affairs?

My upbringing in Venezuela has always been my main motivator to become a public policy specialist. I learned the power of public policy at an early age, as I experienced the economic and political implosion of the country due to wrongful policy-making throughout my teenage years. I desire to eventually be on positions of power where I can help avoiding other disasters such as the Venezuelan Humanitarian crisis.

Who inspires you to think about public service?

The kids. I remember interacting with malnourished children at Venezuelan slums while doing political activism there, and I vividly remember their smiles and dances after receiving a full meal. Kids deserve to grow up with a minimum level of dignity and opportunities available for them. I like to thing that I am preparing myself to help kids, like the Venezuelans, indirectly through my work as a future policy specialist or policy-maker.

What are you most excited about the JSI program at UW?

I am most excited about the community. UW PPIA has 20 of the brightest people I have ever met, and I am excited to establish friendships characterized with reciprocal support and learning.