Growing up in Manila, “Mavic” Punay (Mavic is a shortened version of her first and middle names, Maria Victoria) helped her mom do invoices for their family-run printing business. Her father was active in Kiwanis International and he often brought Punay (MDP ’16) and her three siblings to the organization’s volunteer activities, which supported children through events like the Special Olympics.
“I was very aware of the disparity between the haves and the have nots,” she says. “We didn’t really come from money, but at the same time, I was very aware that we had more resources than others.”
Those early experiences in both business and volunteering would eventually set Punay up for a career consulting for social enterprise nonprofits supporting at-risk youth in the Philippines, including Consuelo Foundation and Save the Children Philippines.
For her graduate education, Punay chose the Master of Development Practice program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs because it supported her interests while allowing her to take classes across the University, including in architecture from the College of Design.
She arrived in Minneapolis in 2014 not knowing a single person, but her randomly assigned roommate refused to let her take a cab from the airport, instead driving to pick her up personally. “In many ways it felt like finding another hometown—but much colder,” she says of her warm welcome to Minnesota.