Humphrey School News—May 15, 2020

A Look Ahead with New Graduate Izaak Mendoza


Head shot of 2020 MPP/MBA graduate Izaak Mendoza
2020 MPP/MBA graduate Izaak Mendoza

We caught up with Izaak Mendoza as he completed his Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree in spring 2020, focusing on U.S. foreign and national security policy. He also earned a joint Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in strategic management. Mendoza is from Wyoming.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be starting a full-time role as a brand manager at the Schwan's Company, where I've worked through grad school as a brand consultant on global export strategy and e-commerce innovation projects. 

What about your longer term goals?

I am eager to continue pursuing a career in the U.S. Foreign Service and one day making significant contributions to U.S. foreign policy. I haven't taken the entrance exam since before graduate school, so I will be preparing for that in the coming months. 

Why did you choose to attend the Humphrey School?

This is a multi-layered answer, but at its core—as a hopeful policy practitioner, I wanted to learn from experts whose deep knowledge on a range of subjects could help me gain best practices to leverage in a globally focused career. It was important for me to have mentors like our Diplomat-In-Residence Mary Curtin, whose classes provided a pragmatic approach to managing policy problems, with the goal of advancing the common good.

Coming from a non-traditional and first-generation background, I knew the Humphrey School would provide me with the hands-on experience I needed in a variety of policy settings, where I could draw upon my diverse background and creative approaches, and synthesize them with the skills I would gain in the classroom. 

On a more specific level, I wanted to learn how to lead teams in a policy setting, where my career goal of becoming a Foreign Service Officer is steeped in leading others while being at the forefront of advancing U.S. interests. I knew I could count on the Humphrey School to teach me how to effectively lead myself and others through both times of calm and of crisis. 

What were your best experiences and takeaways from your time at the Humphrey School?

The immersive academic opportunities I had as a crisis manager and regional staffer in Steve Andreasen's national security courses were transformative, as well as participating in three years of the Army War College's international strategic crisis simulation negotiation exercise. Not only was I able to land my dream internship at the State Department in Washington, but my graduate education allowed me the opportunity to lead the communications of a state agency— and perform in the halftime show of Super Bowl LII. They were truly unforgettable experiences! 

As for a key takeaway, I learned through my time at the Humphrey School that in addressing global challenges, it's imperative to collaborate among diverse perspectives and craft solutions through intercultural, policy, and business lenses. We live in such an interconnected world that making positive advances requires genuine collaboration across governments, industries, and schools of thought.  

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