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Cristina Valdez Pineda

CRISTINA VALDEZ PINEDA (’15) graduated from Illinois with a double major in Political Science and Communication. She now works at Ernst & Young (EY) as a Senior Economic Consultant in their Transfer Pricing practice. Valdez Pineda helps ensure that large corporations which engage in cross-border transactions are following international laws and regulations, and that their transactions are being priced to market. Her day-to-day includes meeting with clients, making economic analyses, and engaging in financial modeling.

As a freshman, Valdez Pineda wanted to be a lawyer. However, her trajectory changed once she studied abroad in Sweden. Immersed in courses on Swedish politics and the European Union, Pineda developed an interest in International Relations. The summer of her junior year, Valdez Pineda interned for Ambassador Samantha Power, at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City. She worked on soft diplomacy initiatives, took UN Security Council notes, and was at the “forefront of it all” for international affairs.

After her time at Illinois, Valdez Pineda pursued a graduate degree at John Hopkins University – School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), focused on International Affairs and Economics, while specializating in Finance.

For Valdez Pineda, Professor John Vasquez played a large role in her career path. She sees him as a mentor; he gave her advice on potential careers, as well as encouraged her to apply to grad school. Valdez Pineda also took many International Relations courses with Professor Kourtikakis, which helped to solidify her interests.

Valdez Pineda believes there is great value in a Political Science major. With globalization, our world has become increasingly interconnected. Valdez Pineda says that this major “teaches students how relations between countries are not only applicable from a political perspective, but also a business, economic, and global perspective.” The values learned in Political Science can be carried to any field or career, and Valdez Pineda is confident her major has truly made her a well-rounded citizen.

Ms. Valdez Pineda can be reached at

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