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Senior Uses Passion for Health Communication to Create Popular Blog

Senior Uses Passion for Health Communication to Create Popular Blog

When she first arrived at The University of Texas at Austin, biology senior Tien Nguyen found herself taken aback by the size of the school. As a first-generation college student, she was uncertain about how best to navigate college life and find an outlet for her passions and energy.

Tien Nguyen. Photo by Kevin Vu.

"It was difficult to apply to college at first, mainly because no one in my family had ever applied to college before," Nguyen said. "In classes, I was always scared to speak up."

During her Scientific Inquiry Across the Disciplines course her freshman year, Nguyen was introduced to The Daily Texan by a guest speaker. As a fan of both science and writing, she decided to give reporting a try. While she worked at The Daily Texan only for a year as a science and technology reporter, the experience helped her discover one of her greatest passions during college.

"I took a chance to get out of my comfort zone and work as a journalist," Nguyen said. "I learned it's important to try things. That can be a catalyst for a greater passion that you can pursue later in college, or later in life."

However, Nguyen said she wanted to do more with health communications.

"When I was working at The Daily Texan, it was more interviewing people and writing about research, but I really wanted to do something more health-care-related," Nguyen said. "And I was interested in women's health. So, I thought maybe I should combine these two passions together.'"

Nguyen left the student newspaper after her freshman year and created a women's health blog over the following summer called The Chatty Gal, after she saw that UT did not have a dedicated women's health blog. The vision for The Chatty Gal was to have a casual, digital space for people at UT, and even outside UT, to write about their experience with women's health and with their health in general.

"Women's health and reproductive health can often be taboo," Nguyen said. "There are a lot of topics there that people don't really like to talk about with their friends or family, but those issues are important to discuss in general. Even women's health research is really underfunded, and we don't know a lot about women's health."

With the help of some friends and people she reached out to, the blog produced stories relating to physical and mental health, how to navigate social media, balancing school and other topics. It was Nguyen's first time managing a project as an editor with an entire team of writers.

"I was definitely scared at first, and I thought I was going to fail," Nguyen said. "But I remembered the motto that I told myself, which was to step out of my comfort zone. I'm going to try it. If it fails, it fails. But if I don't try it, I'll never know."

Nguyen envisioned the blog being read by students, which is the majority of its audience, but she was surprised when she received emails from people across the country about the blog.

Nguyen also joined other research projects and internships focusing on health communication. She joined UT's Center for Health Communication as an intern working on marketing and promotional content for the center's new app for fathers with pregnant spouses, as there weren't many resources for fathers. Much like the blog, the internship combined both of her passions for health communication and women's health.

Thanks to her experience with research and health communications at UT, Nguyen is going to medical school, working towards being a physician researcher in the field of women's maternal health.

"I realized in college that the things that you do in life don't have to follow a linear path and that you can integrate your passions from a bunch of different things," Nguyen said. "Even though I am going to medical school, I still find room to integrate my passion for women's health, scientific research and health communication, so I definitely see my career and my future path as a mosaic of all my different passions."

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Sunday, 29 January 2023

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