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Class 22 (2023-2025)

Paola Saldivias Mendez, Bolivia

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Global Studies

Education | Agency-based Empowerment | Youth Education | Social Impact Entrepreneurship | Gender Equity and Equality

Paola Saldivias Mendez holds a bachelor's degree in Sciences of Social Communication from “Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo”, Bolivia. Being born and raised in Latin America, with both direct and indirect influence of Ecuadorian, Bolivian and Mexican cultural nuances, multiculturalism is a personal trait that has profoundly influenced her awareness of intersectional inequalities, such as gendered, ethnic, economic and geographical. She co-founded a women-led civil society organization and since 2017 has been championing and working together with local and national authorities in education to articulate content and practices to challenge gender norms, advance gender equality, and provide quality education in rural disenfranchised secondary schools in Cusco, Peru.

Paola is considered to be a movement builder and supporter and has been described to have a vision bigger than her own context, one that transcends regions to trans-national and global platforms. Her work and collaboration with international organizations and funders over approximately the last decade include the United Nations Foundation’s Clean Cooking Alliance, USAID, Rotary International, the International Center for Research on Women, WomenStrong International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Advancing Learning and Innovation on Gender Norms platforms, and others. Countries in which she has had the opportunity to collaborate with include the Andean Region (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia), Guatemala, Uganda, and Malawi.

In the pursuit of continuing to connect efforts and enable platforms for less privileged groups to voice their concerns and enjoy their rights, Paola mobilizes teams to work together, fosters equity through language justice, encourages teams to provide their perspectives while ensuring diversity, and facilitates agreements between different geographically located peoples with different realities yet similar ideals and priorities.

In the mid-term, Paola looks forward to the vast possibilities of meaningfully intertwining her Peace formation as a Rotary Peace Fellow with the worldly vision provided by the Global Studies Master Program at UNC. With a professional growth that has stemmed from her implementer background and her self-taught gendered perspective, she trusts that a rigorous academic training that examines peace and development through various frameworks, practice, and networking will be beneficial in developing a more thoughtful analysis and a more reflective practice.