Discuss your general career path since graduating from UT.
Since 2010, I’ve worked on or been involved with a variety of population, GIS, and policy research experiences, which include a summer institute on LGBT population health; redistricting and advocacy work at a Chicago nonprofit; population dynamics research at a national laboratory; population and religion work at a nonpartisan DC think tank; and education inequality work at a research center in London. Since 2013, I’ve been a Ph.D. student in sociology at Penn State.
How did your BDP experience influence your career path and interests?
The BDP introduced me to population studies, which is a research interest that has followed me since I took SOC 369K: Population and Society in 2008. That required BDP Foundation class also brought sociology to my attention; I’m now pursuing a doctorate in sociology even though my other degrees are not in that field.
What do you value most about your BDP experience?
Thinking back, the required Connecting Experiences forced me to picture and figure out how to make them work for me, which, as a first-generation college student of refugee immigrant parents, was beyond my exposure of potential career trajectories up to that point in my life. The Connecting Experiences I had certainly provided valuable background to help garner future opportunities.
In what ways did an interdisciplinary education prepare you for what you are currently doing?
As a double major in geography and economics, I was already an interdisciplinarian by default, but the BDP allowed for structure and organization to such a perspective, as well as practice in important self-reflection through the required personal essays, which proved very helpful for how to think through personal statements or cover letters later on. In my current area of sociology, cross-field collaborations are cutting-edge for some issues, such as using spatial analysis for classic urban sociology problems.