Alejandro Montecinos, a doctoral student in economics, studies the microeconomics of growth and income inequality.
Born and raised in Chile, he says: “Coming from a country where poverty and growth are at the foundation of some key social issues, I knew that I wanted to be able to help to solve important questions that affect a huge number of people—not only in Chile, but in most of the developing economies in the world.”
Montecinos received his bachelor’s degree from the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (2001). He then worked for Coca-Cola—and realized then that “the contributions I wanted to make to my country had to be done from academia.” He started down that path by earning a master’s degree in economics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and then worked as an instructor in the business school of the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez.
When Alejandro decided to take the definitive step into academia and applied to doctoral programs, he was awarded the Becas Chile fellowship, “which is a grant sponsored by the Chilean government that finances my tuition and living expenses. Once I decided to come to Notre Dame, I was also awarded funding from the Kellogg Institute, which has an international reputation in Latin American and development studies, and where I am a student fellow.”
Why Notre Dame? He explains: “I wanted to make the transition to the academy in a world-class university with a mission to make relevant and concrete contributions to improving the life of those who need it the most. I believe that earning a Ph.D. is a life-changing experience, and I wanted to live that process in an environment that has an awareness of the urgency to help those in need—knowing that that awareness is the main driver of personal action. I strongly believe that Notre Dame embodies that view. It’s not just a matter of learning techniques and performing excellent scientific research—as important as that is to why one seeks excellence. My ‘why’ is to give and to help, especially to those who have not experienced a life as blessed as mine.
“One thing that makes the Department of Economics excellent here is that the classes are small—giving each student access to the faculty. Even more importantly, faculty members are always available, so the level of interaction is huge. This facilitates the process of learning the skills necessary to be an excellent researcher. After one year in the program, I can say that it has been everything I wanted and more.”