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Brianna Ortiz (Biology)

how has the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion concentration impacted the way you navigate daily life?

The concentration has impacted the way I navigate daily life. I find myself relying on the skills I acquired during the concentration, especially in these divisive times. Through the concentration I learned to actively listen and find common ground with every person I interact with. I seek to understand rather than to debate. In addition to this, I learned to appreciate my own identity while recognizing the diversity of identities in others around me. While I will never be a master of diversity, this concentration encouraged me to continue to educate myself on the experiences of others. I will always be grateful for the knowledge gained during the concentration and how it has impacted my life for the better.


capstone project highlight

My capstone project involved creating a video in English and Spanish that would walk students and their families through completing the FAFSA. I came across this project when I realized that within my own community I had began to host FAFSA workshops due to the confusion and assumptions that come up for families especially of different backgrounds. I proposed a video that would combat this gap in knowledge and would specifically target the nuances associated with completing the FAFSA to ensure each student at UT felt confident in the process and would not leave funds unclaimed. I attempted to carry out this project by working with the Financial Aid Office at UT in addition to gathering common questions and concerns from students across UT.

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Jordan Lange (Biology)

What have you gained as a result of being a part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion concentration in the College of Natural Sciences?

Through participation in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Concentration I have gained the opportunity to not only understand social inequalities and how they impact us on a daily basis but also how to be a part of the solution. By understanding the various cultural differences surrounding a society, you can then begin to serve them accurately. This coupling further propelled me into the field of medicine. By undergoing thoughtful and introspective
reflection, it is then possible to develop solutions that can impact the world with positive change. Through this concentration I have gained a sense of empowerment to discuss with others the impact of DEI in our every day lives. As I continue through medical school I take these skills with me when examining patients, discussing cases with colleagues, and interacting with peers.


capstone project highlight

As an aspiring physician, I wanted to focus my project on healthcare disparities. More specifically I wanted to find ways to improve doctor-patient relationships in low-income communities. After researching and interviewing local stakeholders, I discovered that trust played a major role. Therefore, I proposed the implementation of a 1 year shadowing/volunteer program for pre-medical students to gain hands on experience in these areas. Through observing doctor-patient interactions and assisting in local community clinics, the goal was for these students to gain a better understanding of common barriers faced by these patients. Ideally, this hands-on experience would not only teach empathy, but also prepare these future physicians to effectively communicate and establish trust with their patients.

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Brett Dolotina (Public Health and Biochemistry)

What have you enjoyed most about being a part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion concentration in the College of Natural Sciences?

I have greatly appreciated both the breadth and depth of important topics that were covered in the Civil Discourse course, such as intersectionality, social identity, and power. Our instructor tailored part of the syllabus towards our interests and curiosities, and I enjoyed this personalization as well. Additionally, I enjoyed the freedom and flexibility that I was given in developing my Capstone project. The faculty and staff of the DEI concentration were very supportive and helpful in guiding the direction of my project while still providing me room to take charge, allowing me to learn key management skills and grow as a leader.


capstone project highlight

My capstone project aimed to highlight the experiences of LGBTQIA+ students in CNS in order to inform recommendations for policy and practice. It was motivated by my own experiences as a queer student in CNS, as well as my desire to lay the groundwork for a more equitable and inclusive environment for future LGBTQIA+ longhorns in CNS. Through focus group interviews and survey assessments, I was able to create a report detailing the current needs of LGBTQIA+ students in CNS directly from the students themselves. I presented this report to key CNS faculty and staff at the end of my Capstone semester, and plan to ensure follow-through of these recommendations.

 Kalwick Michael

Michael Kalwick (Biology major LGBTQ/sexuality studies)

how has the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion concentration impacted the way you navigate daily life?

It has provided me the skills to rationally navigate hard conversations where I previously would have been so emotionally charged that I would have to walk away. I now know how to discuss hard topics and convey my perspective effectively, while also giving other point of views an opportunity to be seen and heard.


capstone project highlight

Over the past years, I realized some students' identities might not align with one of the already developed UT-organized programs to feel comfortable joining. This consequently caused them to miss out on a crucial sense of community at UT. To counter this, I proposed to expand on UT programs and develop a first-year interest group for LGBTQIA+ students. Through weekly seminars, workshops, and peer mentor-led small groups, I hope LGBTQIA+ students can find their study buddies, friends, and most importantly - a support system where they feel 100% accepted being their true selves.

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Rachel Nolte (Biochemistry)

What have you enjoyed most about being a part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion concentration in the College of Natural Sciences?

I have really enjoyed being able to hear other students’ experiences and perspectives. I also enjoyed the capstone class, where I felt like I had the opportunity to make lasting change on campus.


capstone project highlight

My capstone project was creating a training module for FIG mentors to better develop their mentorship skills. I chose this project because I felt like having a mentor as a young student would have greatly benefitted me, and I felt that this type of relationship wasn’t available to me at UT. In order to carry out this project, I did a lot of research on why mentorship is important and what makes a successful mentorship program. All of my work was accumulated into a short, self-paced, online training module to help the FIG mentors develop their relationships with their mentees.