Meet Our Research Fellow Nereyda Ortiz

This past summer, we welcomed a new member to our center, Nereyda Ortiz Osejo! She joined us for the summer to assist our Senior Fellow Dr. Raymond Robertson on his latest research study on the resilience of the Texas-Mexico supply chain and trade motivations. Their focus will be the economic recovery process for Texas after the COVID-19 pandemic, and analyzing the impact on supply chains, investment and the workforce in Texas and between Texas and Mexico. Their goal is to understand what are the changes to the workforce and what skills and retooling solutions we could recommend to policymakers as they grapple with the economic recovery.

We spoke with Nereyda to learn more about her and her interest in this project.

What made you decide to pursue a Masters in International Affairs and specifically exploring migration and economic development in Latin America? 

Since I graduated from my undergraduate degree in Political Science, I have been very aware of the different conflicts in Latin America. Since I graduated, I’ve been working in the development field in the private and non-governmental sectors where I managed a wide range of topics from child labor to youth entrepreneurship. Being so close to the realities of Guatemalan families, childhood and youth made me realize the challenges of pursuing development. Therefore, I decided that I needed more education on economic and policy topics in order to get more innovative tools and extend my network.

What do you hope to do with this degree?

I have two goals in mind:

  1. Launch a hybrid organization that addresses migration and gender, especially Latin American migration to the U.S.
  2. Continue my PhD studies to become a University Professor specialized in migration and economic development.

I want to produce high-quality research on the economic and social effects of migration in general and for women. Further, I would like to launch a ‘Laboratory of Policies’ that gathers top Latin American students from all academic backgrounds to simulate the creation and debate of policies on migration and gender.

Can you tell us about the work you are doing with Dr. Raymond Robertson? What questions are you trying to answer and/or what do you hope to learn? 

Currently, Dr. Robertson and I are conducting research on the effects of trade between Texas and Mexico. The main hypothesis is that companies that import inputs from Mexico tend to grow faster than comparable companies. Therefore, if Texas, being close to Mexico, tends to import more inputs and importing inputs increases growth, then Texas integration with Mexico should lead to higher growth.

Even before the pandemic, this was an important question and analysis as the U.S. trade war with China could cause shifts in the production chain to the U.S.-Mexico border, which would lead to potential skills gaps in the Texas workforce.

Our analysis will also include questions on the implementation of the USMCA given the changing Texas economic climate, the new rules on USMCA and the pandemic’s impact on global supply chains.

What have you found to be most interesting in your work thus far?

Before starting this internship, I have not conducted that much research on trade so I was unaware of many related sources of information. As I have been gathering data, I find very interesting all the platforms and datasets available that are helping us to understand the trade relationship between Texas and Mexico.

The process itself of discarding, adapting, and retaining variables to test our hypothesis has been very didactic because I have been able to understand the research process first hand. As with everything in life, even when it seems very obvious, there are a lot of topics that you are not familiar with. The strong trade relation between Texas and Mexico was one of those topics for me. Just reading and writing a literature review have been very eye opening, which has left me with this sense of wanting to research more about it. I would love to be able to extrapolate the research skills that I have acquired on topics such as migration, education and gender in Texas and Mexico.

Go here to learn more about Neeyda and our center’s Senior Fellows.

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