#WeAreElliott: Mariana Jo Bonilla

Mariana Jo Bonilla, MA International Economic Policy, Class of 2023, #WeAreElliott Current Student

Mariana Jo-Bonilla was born and raised in Guatemala City and is a student in the International Economic Policy program at the Elliott School. In 2018, she moved to Arlington, VA for an opportunity to work in international affairs and to pursue her graduate degree. She went to Francisco Marroquin University where she got her bachelor’s degree in International Affairs, minoring in International Trade. Mariana has experience in working with trade associations, trade offices at bilateral embassies, and multilateral organizations. She currently works as a Consultant for the Model OAS General Assembly at the Organization of American States in Washington D.C. She works diligently to facilitate opportunities for high school and college students from the Hemisphere to collaborate in progressing toward global community. Mariana enjoys going on hikes, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

What inspired you to select your program/concentration at the Elliott School?

When I moved to the United States in 2018, I was seeking opportunities to learn more about international affairs and trade, and was given the opportunity to intern for the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). During my internship, I helped plan the “Intensive Trade Seminar,” co-hosted by the Elliott School. After this experience, I decided to look into related graduate programs. Trying to choose a graduate school in the United States seemed overwhelming, but when I found the International Economic Policy program at the Elliott School, I knew it was the program I wanted to pursue.

What has been your favorite course at the Elliott School so far and why?

Topics in Economic Development. It has helped me learn more about regions of the world that I am most interested in, such as Latin America, as well as other regions like the Middle East and Asia. It has provided me with new tools to understand the current social and economic situation these regions are going through.

What has been your most rewarding work, intern, or volunteer experience since starting your program at the Elliott School?

I am a full-time Consultant at the Organization of American States while studying part-time in the International Economic Policy program. It has been a challenge to balance both work and studying, but it has been a very rewarding experience. Pursuing my master’s degree at Elliott has taught me innovative ways to learn, along with ways to give back to the community that raised me. 

I envision myself as a consultant in international trade, supporting small businesses in Latin America, providing them with honest opportunities to expand internationally.

What advice do you have for first-year students who are starting their graduate studies?

It is important to have a routine that balances work/study and personal life and to not fall victim to overworking yourself.

How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?

Pineapple does go on pizza.


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The #WeAreElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights current students to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.