Heller Profiles

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Gustavo Payan

Mexico • Project Director, International Development Division, Education Development Center

MA-SID '05

Practicum led to full-time position

Gustavo Payan's practicum site valued the skills and knowledge he gained at Heller.

Empowering people in developing countries has been a constant theme for Gustavo Payan. While scholarships enabled him to attend private schools, he was aware of the social and economic exclusion around him in his home state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Even while he pursued an international business degree at Monterrey Tech, he spent his spare time volunteering with youth and indigenous people.

Not long after graduating, Payan decided to pursue an MA in Sustainable International Development at the Heller School. "International development is a broad field and Heller provides a real macro picture of all areas from social justice and human rights to environment and health."

While his coursework provided a breadth of knowledge, Payan’s peers brought their personal experience to theoretical concepts. “My fellow students were a diverse group in terms of ethnicity and background as well as professional experience and goals and were a key part of my education,” he says. “They all had different views and perspectives that broadened my own.”

By his second year at Heller, Payan was ready to develop his professional experience and build contacts through his Heller practicum with Education Development Center. His education gave him the skills and knowledge to be a valued asset, and he was soon offered a full-time position. “The practicum is one way students can help build their career path,” he says. “Research, internships, faculty with hands-on experience – there are so many opportunities to take advantage of at Heller.”

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