Monica Zambrano Saquicela has always been ahead of the game. When she arrived to John Jay as a transfer student during her sophomore year, she immediately started taking graduate-level classes through the College’s combined Baccalaureate/Master’s Degree Program. This year, she’ll be graduating with an MPA in Inspection and Oversight, which allows her to pursue her dream of fighting international fraud and corruption.
Zambrano Saquicela, who is passionate about creating a just world for all, believes that inspection and oversight is essential for positive change. “There’s a lack of accountability in government,” she said. “I’m learning the mechanisms to prevent abuse and fraud.”
This year, Zambrano Saquicela and two other John Jay students attended the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)-Batten Student Simulation, hosted at Baruch College, in order to gain an understanding of what it’s actually like to work in public administration. In a team of students from different colleges around New York, Zambrano Saquicela responded to a fictional pandemic using a computer simulation. Despite it being the first year that John Jay students attended, Zambrano Saquicela’s team won the competition. Their work will be sent to global judges that will rank it against local winners from other competition sites from all over the world.
For Zambrano Saquicela, competing in the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation was exhilarating, especially because she utilized skills that a real crisis would require, including quick thinking. “We were writing policy and recommendations in a one hour time frame,” she said. “Our team went in giving it our all.”
It isn’t the first time that Zambrano Saquicela has demonstrated excellence in her ability to respond to complex public administration problems. She currently sits on the executive board of the John Jay United Nations Student Association (UNSA), which has competed for over 13 years in the annual National Model United Nations event with thousands of students from all over the world. In 2016, the John Jay team earned the conference’s top honor, the Outstanding Delegation Award.
Though Zambrano Saquicela grew up in New York, it’s only because of her involvement with UNSA that she’s been able to visit the United Nations General Assembly. The experience was eye-opening in that it allowed her to understand how global governance could help people in need.
“There are so many global issues I care about. My parents are Ecuadorian, and I grew up traveling to Ecuador, so I’ve always wanted to travel and have an influence on other nations.”—Monica Zambrano Saquicela
“Working at the UN is my dream job,” she says. “There are so many global issues I care about, and I believe in the UN’s mission of influencing governance around the globe. My parents are Ecuadorian, and I grew up traveling to Ecuador, so I’ve always wanted to travel and have an influence on other nations.”
Zambrano Saquicela is doing all she can to prepare herself for that dream career and is finding the opportunities at John Jay to do so. She credits her professors as people who are deeply invested in the success of their students and have a wealth of knowledge to share. Equipped with that knowledge, Zambrano Saquicela, who is the first in her family to pursue a master’s degree, anticipates graduating so she can begin a fruitful public service career. “I have a lot of hope because I have so much interest and passion,” she says. “The challenge is finding your starting point, but I’m sure I’ll find my way.”