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Barbara Olivas ’05 breaks ground as founding member of new Wisconsin Alumni Association Chapter in Chile

Dec. 05, 2017
Category: Leadership

In 2015, after 9 years of practicing law as a civil defense attorney in Madison, Wisconsin Olivas moved to Santiago, Chile to be with her husband, Patricio A. Mendoza Araya, another UW alumnus. Prior to moving to Chile, Olivas was aware she would not be able to practice law in the same manner as she did in Madison given the differences in the legal systems. With that in mind, she decided to explore other professions that are related to law, such as teaching. A year later she was offered a position as an Adjunct Professor at the Adolfo Ibañez University.

In March 2017, Olivas and Mendoza Araya set out to start a WAA Chapter in Santiago. Upon learning that the university that she worked for had an exchange program with the University of Wisconsin Law School, she began to reach out to old and new alumni who were returning to Chile with hopes that they would join the chapter. Mendoza Araya, former president of the Chilean Student Association at the University of Wisconsin, reached out to his former peers. 50 people showed up to the kickoff event. Satisfied with the turnout, Olivas and the other members of the WAA Santiago board remained devoted and determined to maintain their momentum.

Since their kickoff event, Olivas and company have arranged a variety of events ranging from informational events advising alumni on how to secure internships to more social events such as wine and cheese tasting, with more on the way such as a Crazylegs Classic, all while maintaining and promoting a sense of community as Badgers in Chile.

In October 2017, Olivas started a new job as the Director of International Programs for the faculty of the Diego Portales University, where she works to understand international students’ experiences studying abroad in Chile in order to make changes to improve them and works to help national students plan their study abroad experiences. This month, her University of Wisconsin experience came full circle as she attended the Badger Leaders Conference in Madison, Wisconsin and represented her University at the UW Law School, where she worked together with leaders of Graduate International Programs in order to foster community for Badgers everywhere.

Keeping in spirit with the Wisconsin Idea, Olivas continues to exemplify leadership through her commitment to cultivating her community and forging her own path forward.

For more information contact Barbara Olivas & Patricio Mendoza Araya at

More Alumni Notes

How will you celebrate the UW? Check out the ways you can join the philanthropic festivities when Day of the Badger returns March 28–29.