Seven years ago, I arrived at UT as a freshman international student, having made the decision to come to an unfamiliar country and a vastly different educational setting without so much as even setting foot on campus. That decision was made easier in no small part due to the opportunities available through the Honors Program. The experiences available through the Honors Program – meeting highly motivated peers, being part of engaging organizations such as the Honors Council, peer reviewing scholarly work through Respondez!, and presenting my research at collegiate honors conferences – represent the best of what is available at The University of Tampa. These experiences have been pivotal in what opportunities I received once out of UT and what choices I have been able make since.
In my sophomore year, I applied for the Timothy M. Smith ‘Inspiration through Exploration’ award in the hopes of traveling to Sri Lanka to work with elephants and teach underprivileged children. I was able to do just that and immerse myself in Sri Lankan culture. The month long trip taught me so many valuable lessons in community building, leadership, conservation, and a myriad of life lessons from the Sri Lankan families who hosted me around the country.
In Fall of 2015, I participated in UT’s Oxford Semester Abroad programme. This opportunity provided me the chance to study global perspectives of agriculture. My primary tutorial focused on the anthropological and environmental aspects of agricultural systems, while my secondary tutorial elucidated the relationship between food and public health. My experience supplemented my biology degree through exposure to topics in the social sciences, refinement of my analytical and writing skills, and focus on primary literature and dyadic communication. At my current internship at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, I often draw upon the scientific concepts I learned at Oxford, as well as the softer skills of travelling and living in a new culture. On a more personal note, my fondest memories of my Oxford experience were nightly formal dinners in the Christ Church College grand hall with my classmates, who are now some of my closest lifelong friends. I am very grateful to have had this experience and I would be elated to speak with anyone interested in applying.
My participation at the ASA meeting was the best experience that I have had in my academic career and personal life so far. There were numerous opportunities for professional networking. While I was there I connected with graduate students and faculty in graduate programs. I met with colleagues who expressed a strong interest in working with me in my academic career. We received instruction on how to apply for graduate school. I got to meet Dr. Earl Babbie, the author of one of my textbooks, and Amy Goodman, from Democracy Now.
I got to do all of this while making life-long friends across the country. I’m pretty sure I have found my life purpose and that being a sociologist will make me truly happy. This would not have been possible without the faculty at The University of Tampa and my participation in UT’s Honors Program.