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“I had the privilege of being part of an excellent department in the School of Social Sciences.”

31 January 2023

A person standing outside their place of work on a cloudy day

We caught up with Social and Public Policy (MSc) graduate Sally Bardayán Rivera about her time with us at Cardiff University, what she enjoyed most about her course and the steps she took after finishing the programme.

Why did you choose our Social and Public Policy (MSc) programme?

Cardiff is a vibrant capital city that I had the pleasure of visiting before I applied, so I knew that I liked the city and I knew someone who was a student there and recommended it.

I’d done some research on good programmes for social and public policy and Cardiff had the perfect one. I wasn't just interested in public policy, it was important for me to have the social policy component and so this programme had the best of both worlds!

How did the university facilitate your programme and time at Cardiff?

I had the privilege of being part of an excellent department in the School of Social Sciences.

The programme was on the smaller side which meant that my professors and supervisors were available to guide and help me when I needed it. The facilities were excellent, including the schools own specialised library.

What did you like about the programme and university?

I loved the multidisciplinary focus of the programme. I was able to research into a topic that was very close to my heart and my supervisor provided guidance every step of the way. I really enjoyed the core modules and I believe they provided a solid basis for my understanding on policy.

On the other hand, living in Cardiff was a fascinating experience. It's a capital city that has everything. Wales is a beautiful country, I particularly enjoyed visiting the Wales coastal path as well as hiking up Pen Y Fan.

What you did you do next, and did the programme help you with it?

After my masters, I returned to my home country, Panamá. The pandemic began shortly after.

I applied and got admitted to the Civil Service Diplomatic Programme. I’m now in my first posting in the Permanent Mission of Panamá to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations Confernece on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Working in a multilateral environment has been an incredibly enriching experience both personally and professionally.

The first few months were a (steep!) learning curve but my experience with policy and the programme helped me to think analytically about the issues that we discuss at these international organisations.

The bulk of the work we do as diplomats and negotiators at the WTO has so much to do with understanding other countries' interests and sensitivities and try to find common ground so that internationally binding agreements and decisions can be reached, and we can therefore contribute to the attainment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In that sense, my course on international and comparative social and public policy was extremely helpful in preparing me to think critically about cross-cutting issues that affects all countries, such as climate change, poverty, unemployment and gender issues.

Diolch yn fawr Sally for taking the time to catch up with us.

Find out more about Social and Public Policy (MSc).

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