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We all have that one story that motivated us to work in public service. For me, it was my grandparents. Most of them, with only basic education, worked hard for their children, and for us, their grandchildren, to experience the perks of years of hard work. As a result, I studied in one of the most prestigious schools in Peru. However, as I grew older, I became more aware of the common disparities in the city and the different realities that persisted in my country, realizing how lucky I was and how grateful I should be to my family for giving me the top education. So I wanted others to have what I had: opportunities.

From there, different experiences have shaped my commitment to public service. For almost five years, I have worked close to the government. There, I have felt from frustration to happiness. In my first year in the public sector, I experienced the impeachment of the Ministry of Education and the resignation of the President, putting in jeopardy not only my job but also all the projects that were being carried out. This experience reinforced that well-prepared public officials and policymakers committed to their work are needed to continue working toward development. Months later, and with more political stability, working at the Ministry of Education, I had the privilege to visit remote schools in Peru that are beneficiaries of the new Rural School Networks policy, a priority set by the government to improve rural education. Peru has 34,977 public rural schools (66% of public education) that concentrate on the greatest deficiencies of the education system expressed in problems of quality and equity. In learning outcomes in reading, only 16.5% of elementary school students reached the expected results – compared to 50.9% in urban schools. The Rural School Networks policy aims to close these gaps by assigning a principal to each network. This gives teachers a pedagogical and administrative leader that allows them to fulfill their teaching activities, reducing the administrative burden of schools. In the end, teachers can focus on improving the learning outcomes of students. One of the beneficiaries was the school No. 64474, located in the impoverished community of Huitoto de Estiron, in the Peruvian Amazon. To get there, I took a flight from Lima to Iquitos, followed by a six-hour ferry from Iquitos to Pebas through the Amazon River at dawn. From there to the community, two hours in a little boat called ‘peque-peque’ through the Ampiyacu River, exposed to the incinerating sun of the jungle and the unexpected rain. The community has one multi-level (1st to 6th grade) school and one principal-teacher who speaks Murui Muinani, a native language. No electricity, no health post. Just the school. This humble experience is a constant reminder that, despite some limitations, sometimes the government is the only entity that provides services to those in need living in the most remote areas of our country. Working for more than four years on the development of my country, I have understood that well-designed policies and proper implementation can have the desired impact. It is the arena where real change happens.

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I want to be a leader in my government, and Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) is a key partner in developing my leadership skills and technical knowledge. Throughout the years, I have developed a solid network that will allow me to be hired back. Upon finishing my master’s degree, my goal is to return to the Ministry of Education, which has a strong network of HKS alumni. There, I want to assume a managerial position in the Directorate of School Quality Management. I am familiar with the different projects the division carries out and I believe in them, being the most important one the policy of rural school networks for improving education. I will be a key element in the improvement of learning outcomes in rural schools using the tools provided by HKS to address development issues. However, my biggest dream is to hold a ministerial position in the education sector, promoting the design and implementation of new inclusive and sustainable policies, relevant to our needs.

Finally, we can contribute to public service in endless ways, mine being through the government. Throughout the years I have seen the impact my work has had on citizens’ lives and I only want my impact to be bigger, helping citizens reach their potential. I feel proud to be part of the generation setting the ground for the development of my country and making better policies for everybody’s well-being. Therefore, the Public Service Fellowship and HKS are key players for me to be the leader I have always wanted to see in public service.

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