Alejandra Rios Gutierrez – 2017-2018, Study, Mexico
My name is Alejandra and I was a Fulbrighter to Mexico, 2017-2018, for a masters in Binational Business. I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but my family immigrated to the US when I was a child. During my grant, I got to see the sides of Mexico that my family hadn't taught me. For example, my family doesn't celebrate Day of the Dead, so I got to learn more about the traditions surrounding the holiday. Food was also a big thing, since I got to taste the diverse flavors around the country. One of my main goals during my grant was to learn about the indigenous cultures and the pre-Hispanic civilizations. I got to see the global influences ingrained in Mexican culture due to immigration and trade that date back to the colonization era, such as culinary influences from Lebanon, China, and the Philippines.
The Fulbright Commission for Mexico opened up when NAFTA was enacted and in addition to Research and ETA grants, a business-oriented grant was added. My grant consisted of a 10-month internship at a Mexican startup and master-level courses at ITAM. I enrolled in courses that focused on Mexican policies and programs where I learned a lot about the evolution of Mexican society and institutions.
I graduated from Saint Louis University in 2017 with a degree in Business and International Studies. After my Fulbright, I decided to stay for a bit longer to continue learning about my heritage. I worked for Grin Scooters, a micromobility startup where I got to work alongside people from 6 other Latin American countries. When I return to the US, I hope to work on something that allows me to serve the Latinx population in cities. I want to help build resilient communities in cities across the world so and get a master's degree in urban planning later on.
My advice for future applicants is to apply. I began my application 1 week before the my school's deadline. I convinced myself there was no way I could win the grant. 'Fulbright material' doesn't mean you need to go to a prestigious school or have a perfect GPA. To increase representation from the Latinx community in the Fulbright program, more of us need to apply!