Joaquin Espinosa Alarcón
Master of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab, Munk School

Celebrating Our Graduates: Joaquin Espinosa Alarcón

Joaquin Espinosa Alarcón’s journey to the Master of Global Affairs (MGA) program was peppered with many stops along the way. Born in Quito, Ecuador, Espinosa Alarcón, who graduates from the MGA program on June 14, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 18 after finishing high school. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine; he moved to Washington, D.C. where much of his time was spent working at the World Bank under the advisor on sexual orientation and gender identity. He was a point of contact for Latin American countries. “I didn't plan on doing this. But because I have been an immigrant since I was 18, I know there are geographic limitations or legal constraints as to what you can do. That experience, and my job at the World Bank, helped me realize that I am interested in global affairs.”

Espinosa Alarcón’s burgeoning interest in 2SLGBTQIA+ rights and gender identity began at the World Bank and informed his time in the MGA program, where he was the director of Spectrum, a student-led initiative (SLI) that aims to help in the professional and career development of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and their allies in both the MGA and Master of Public Policy (MPP) programs. “I joined Spectrum with the goal of making the SLI more diverse,” says Espinosa Alarcón. “It was one of my best experiences as an MGA, being able to make a space be more representative of what the Munk School is and should be. I think that in the global affairs area, 2SLGBTIA+ people are dismissed. So that pushes me to keep going in this field.”

Outside of LGBTQIA+ advocacy within the MGA program, Espinosa Alarcón was able to forge lasting relationships with his classmates. “The people I got to meet were my favourite part of the Munk School. It was nice to be surrounded by people from all over, people who are smart, capable and passionate, but also that are fun to be around,” he adds.

Another highlight is his work with the Citizen Lab coming up this summer. He initially applied to the role during the school year on a whim. Now, Espinosa Alarcón will collaborate with the Citizen Lab team to produce a report on transgender rights, which is set to be presented in Costa Rica. “Citizen Lab does important work and I’m excited I get to collaborate with some really smart people,” says Espinosa Alarcón. “As an MGA, you’re sort of a generalist, so being with individuals who are experts and focused on a particular subject, you can get exposure to some cool ideas.”

For a challenging yet rewarding experience, Espinosa Alarcón recommends that prospective students embrace their academic journey, take advantage of what grad school has to offer, aim high and have an open mind — just like he did when starting out at the Munk School. As for his fellow graduates, Espinosa Alarcón has this to share: “we need to be more confident in our abilities. I think a lot of us have self-doubt, but we have done some really cool stuff and we deserve to pat ourselves in the back for what we have accomplished and what we will do.”