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Social Entrepreneurship & Non-profits Archived Alumni Profiles

Name: Amanda Aguirre
BDP: Social Inequality Health and Policy
Major: Sociology

What attracted you to the BDPs?
I was first drawn to the BDP because it linked several of my interests together. After discovering all the different strands and course options presented by the BDPs I was amazed how it would give me the opportunity to gain knowledge in a variety of fields while still being true to my area of study. The Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP allowed me to pursue an interest that I was passionate about while also connecting me with professors and internships that better prepare me for the future.

What have you done for your Connecting Experiences?
I have been an intern for Austin Voices for Education and Youth, a local non-profit organization centered around empowering youth and improving inequalities among youth in the Austin School District. I participated in the creation of the School Inequities Project PowerPoint presentation, which displayed the inequalities in the Austin School district. I am also currently an intern for the Children’s Defense Fund at their Houston office. I primarily work in Health Outreach efforts; I have participated and helped coordinate over 6 enrollment drives this summer in order to assist eligible families in registering for CHIP and Children’s Medicaid. I am also working on a Health Outreach Toolkit for CDF’s Back-to-School campaign in order to help others in their efforts to help the uninsured children in Texas.

How have the BDPs helped shape your plans for the future?
Through my experiences and with help from my mentors I have identified my interest in being an advocate for children. I have discovered a variety of opportunities and career paths that incorporate my skills and interests, and I look forward to what lies ahead.

What would you want other students to know about the BDPs?
I want other students to understand the value and importance of interdisciplinary studies. Being exposed to a variety of interests and understanding how they connect can help you discover your interest and expose you to areas that you may have not otherwise discovered.

Name: Durriya Doctor
BDP: Social Inequality, Health, and Policy
Major: Human Biology

Why did you apply to the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP?
The concentration of my major in Human Biology is primarily on natural sciences, but I felt that in order to truly understand the complexities of the social aspects of health and disease, I would need to take more classes that examine the different facets. The fact that many of these classes fit into my major’s electives was a win-win! By choosing the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP, I expanded my insight into my major by giving me more options on class choices and internships.

What have you done for your connecting experiences?
In Spring 2006 I interned with Dr. Laura Lein in UT’s School of Social Work on her pilot project dealing with the rising diabetes rate in minority communities. We investigated the need for more community health promoters who are able to relate to those people suffering from this illness. I researched and analyzed articles and coded data from interview transcripts. I thought it was wonderful to see how different fields of study bring a diverse array of solutions to the same problems — social work, statistics, medicine and public policy. This past summer I volunteered at the Georgetown University Hospital in the child life, endoscopy, and physical medicine and rehabilitation units. I also interned at the Washington Hospital Center as a public health intern in the Center’s Washington Cancer Institute during the summer. There, I coordinated and designed an outreach program for breast cancer awareness and prevention. This program included hosting events for local communities in Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland. I held outreach programs at two community libraries on their busiest day and worked to raised awareness by promoting the use of mammograms and advocating healthy lifestyles. I felt that although discussing breast cancer is a daunting topic with total strangers, many individuals did in fact share stories of their experience, whether it was a “scary lump” or personal memories of friends and family members who have gone through breast cancer. Overall, the experiences have been extremely fulfilling. Most importantly, I witnessed the value of life by those who walk into the hospital each day to be treated — even if they are hanging on by a thread.

What would you want other students to know about the BDPs?
I believe that anyone can make the most of educational experience and can achieve their academic goals, and that sometimes one has to look beyond their major course of study. The BDPs offer more options and are flexible. The connecting experiences really made me look beyond the theoretical knowledge learned in class to the pragmatic knowledge only gained through actual fieldwork.

Name: Emily Shelton
BDP: Social Inequality, Health & Policy
Major: Sociology

What attracted you to the Bridging Disciplines Programs?
I’ve always been interested in social inequality issues, but last year I realized that I am also interested in public policy. Unfortunately, UT doesn’t offer an undergraduate degree in this subject. The BDP in SIHP seemed like a great way to get some background knowledge in policy issues before I go to graduate school.

What would you say has been the biggest benefit of being in the BDPs?
My Forum Seminar was one of the most interesting classes that I’ve taken at UT. It was a Health Policy class with Dr. Angel from the LBJ School of Pubic Affairs. Not only did I learn a lot, but I got to meet other professors and hear about their research. Because of the BDP, I’ve taken several other classes that I wouldn’t have otherwise taken. Through them I have discovered interests in fields I previously thought were a little boring, such as health care. These classes have helped make me confident that I want to go to graduate school in public policy/affairs after I graduate.

What were the highlights of your connecting experience and what did you learn from it?
The biggest highlight of my connecting experience was the sense of accomplishment from completing a real research paper. I’d never done that before and was so nervous! I learned how to use Stata, a stats software program, learned about demographic issues, and wrote a paper on the effects of Head Start on children’s kindergarten readiness. Next month I get to present my paper at the Southern Demographic Association’s Annual Meeting.