When Alejandra Tapia finished her undergraduate degree in Panama, she knew that most of her peers did the typical trajectory of going to the US or UK for a master’s.
“I thought, ‘well, that’s the path everyone follows back home,’” Tapia recalls. “And I said to myself, well, I want something different.”
Panama established diplomatic relations with China in June 2017, and with its strategic position on the canal, the country had retained an important commercial relationship with the mainland.
But beyond that, China had always been a part of Tapia’s life in Panama; there’s a large Chinese community in the country, and studying in China had always been something Tapia’s father talked to her about.
“He always told me, Alejandra you can always just explore and let’s see what you’d want to do—maybe study there,” Tapia says. “I said ‘no, I want be a lawyer and study in Panama.’ But then I thought, well it’s good to be different, good to stand out—plus we are a lot of lawyers in Panama.”
So Tapia researched her options and decided to go to with an LL.M. at the Peking University School of Transnational Law, in Shenzhen. After graduating, she was hired as the China liaison to the Hong Kong office of her law firm back home, where she had worked as a paralegal before graduate school.