Women Who Empower: Thaïs Burmeister Pires

Author: Colleen Wilcox

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This story is part of Notre Dame International's series titled "Women Who Empower."

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A clinical psychologist by trade, Thaïs Burmeister Pires is on a mission to enrich the lives of people around her.

It started with her three daughters.

“Ever since they were little, I always empowered them to be whatever they wanted to be,” says Pires. “That empowerment started with a strong education and an experience outside of their comfort zone.”

All three took her words to heart: the oldest is a lawyer who recently switched to the corporate world of banking, the middle daughter is an architect, and the youngest is a psychologist who works as a yoga therapist for cancer patients.

“If you follow your passion, you will be happy and fulfilled,” says Pires.

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She finds her own work fulfilling as the assistant director of the São Paulo Global Center. Pires is responsible for promoting Notre Dame’s visibility in Brazil and expanding the University’s programs and partnerships with universities, corporations, foundations, and government organizations.

The transition from clinical psychology to international education was a natural one. She believed that an international education could promote peace in the world and she was initially focused on providing that experience to Brazilian students at the U.S. Department of State’s Education USA Office in São Paulo. She also believed that all students should have access to an experience abroad.

“I wanted to give our Brazilian students, especially low income students, the opportunity to study abroad and get a different perspective and understanding of the world around them,” says Pires.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of her job was helping low income students get full ride scholarships to study abroad. Her work was driven by the desire to empower students to achieve their goals despite financial difficulties.

Her career came full circle in 2014, when she joined the University of Notre Dame to serve as assistant director of the São Paulo Global Center. She was tasked with bringing students and faculty to Brazil, an opportunity to bring Notre Dame to Brazil and Brazil to Notre Dame.

“It goes back to the lesson that I taught my daughters: embrace a different perspective and culture and it will enrich your life.”

Learn more about Pires’ work in São Paulo.

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Pires is pictured with her three daughters.