Batten Student Spotlight: Guada Pinto (MPP ‘22)

Guada Pinto

In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, the Admissions team sat down with second-year Accelerated MPP and Batten Latinx Network (BLN) President Guada Pinto to discuss her student experience and the role of BLN within the Batten School. Guada is from Richmond, Virginia and graduated from UVA in May 2021 with a degree in Women and Gender Studies (WGS) and a double minor in Public Policy and Foreign Affairs. As an undergrad, she was involved with a number of equity-centered research projects and interned at the Aspen Institute, the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE), and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at UVA. Below you will find highlights of our conversation, which have been edited for clarity and length.


What does leadership and public policy mean to you?

“I initially minored in public policy because it seemed practical at the time. Coupled with the theoretical lens I was adopting in my WGS courses, I wanted to apply quantitative reasoning to champion just and equitable change. But my Batten classes helped me realize how much public policy tied into my personal values of giving back to the community and my interest in a service-focused career, so I decided to pursue a Master of Public Policy. Public policy inherently focuses on public, and public, to me, means community. How are we giving back to the communities we serve and participate in? How do we uplift and amplify the lived experiences of the people around us? How do we make meaningful change? The idea of coupling public policy and leadership always made sense to me, because it requires that your values guide the impact you hope to create for the people around you.”


What areas of policy are you interested in, and how have you been able to explore those interests at Batten?

“In my heart, I was always drawn to social justice and equity-centered policy. Within Batten, I have taken classes like “Imagining Equitable Policy,” “Poverty in the Education System,” and “Equity-Centered Leadership. Recently, I have been diving into equity in health policy and how our healthcare system is inherently designed to fail certain subgroups of our population. Time and time again, medicine and science have prevailed at the exploitation of brown and black bodies. This clouded history has culminated in [warranted] skepticism and fear in modern medicine. This distrust is deeply rooted in U.S. health care’s historical mistreatment of racial minorities and existing structures that continue to perpetuate racism. And it contributes to the current inaccessibility of quality health services to these populations. . . Currently, I am doing my APP [Applied Policy Project] for my master’s on expanding the accessibility of telehealth infrastructure for individuals with limited English proficiency in Virginia, a population deeply affected by inaccessible health services in our state.”


Tell us about the Batten Latinx Network and your role in that organization

“The Batten Latinx Network (BLN) is a relatively new organization started just a few years ago. A group of amazing BAs advocated for and created an intentional space for the Latinx community in Batten. I joined in Spring 2020, after the pandemic had already started. In a time where people were yearning for community and compassion, the incredible BLN team took me in. BLN was created to be an internal community within Batten for Latinx students to feel supported, to feel heard, and to get to know people with similar identities and experiences to them.  


We are a small community, and as President this year, I want to work to expand within Batten. Ultimately, it is really important to get more Latinx students involved in public policy. We bring values, perspectives, and experiences that are crucial to redefining what public policy means and how we use it as a tool for equitable change. Now that we are back in-person, we want to focus on in-person activities to create meaningful connections between Batten and the UVA Latinx community. In this process, it is important to meet people where they are. If potential students do not feel as though they can identify with this space or sector, we hope to bridge those gaps by putting face time in with Latinx students to redefine what public policy is and how Batten can be the right fit for them. For that reason, we are offering BLN Office Hours at the LSC starting on Friday, October 15 from 12 - 2 PM to showcase all that Batten has to offer.”


You are also the President of the Equity Collab! Tell us about that organization.

“The Equity Collab is also a very new organization created last summer [2020] by three second-year MPP students who were adamant about changing Batten by holding it accountable to its explicit mission of increasing diversity and the accessibility of its programs. Its mission is very similar to BLN--to foster a community focused on equity, inclusion, and belonging--but expanded beyond Latinx people. The Equity Collab intends to call on future policymakers within Batten to make powerful evidence-based recommendations on how the School itself can change and adapt in productive ways.We hope that such initiatives can improve the climate in the classroom and at Batten, especially for underrepresented or marginalized groups. If you are interested in getting involved, applications for new exec members and potential research leads are now open! Feel free to check out our instagram @equitycollab for more information!”


You’ve demonstrated a strong passion for admissions and recruitment with your organizations because you see the value in bringing in diverse candidates into a community dedicated to making a difference. What advice would you give to someone considering the Batten School for any of their programs?

“As a prospective Batten student, I recommend taking a moment to reflect on what values you hold core to your sense of self. You will find that these are the values that will ultimately drive the way you create and advocate for policy change. Although potentially challenging or uncomfortable, use this introspection to illuminate where you fall short in terms of how you interpret the world around you, especially as you are developing your leadership style, and how you show up for yourself and others. Keep in mind that public policy requires you to advocate for the best interests of those whose lived experiences might not be your own. Therefore, I challenge you to identify shortcomings in your perspectives or knowledge and consider how that can impact your policymaking lens. Finally, I encourage you to envision how you hope to create impact in the spaces you participate in. You will find that this imagination can translate well into a career in public policy.”

That is a wrap on our first student spotlight of the 2021-2022 academic year; more students will be featured on the blog in the weeks to come! If you have any questions about admissions or Batten’s programs, please do not hesitate to make an appointment with Anne or Courtney or email us at Additionally, if you have any questions for Guada about BLN or Batten, you can reach out to our office to connect you!