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julia on steps of state house

I Am Made of Impassioned Leadership

Julia Fonshell knew she wanted to study political science. She didn't know her interest would evolve into studying the intersection of government and public health in Kenya.

Julia's interest in political science started in high school. Through her government courses she found the intersection of policy and outcomes, like health and well-being, interesting. And while she didn't have a grasp on how this interest translated into a career, she knew she wanted to continue to explore it as a political science major at South Carolina.

Taking a course on the politics of developing countries completely shifted what I knew about political science. I became fascinated on the growth of developing countries as well as the impact policy decisions have on the well-being of a population.

Taking her interests abroad

Not only did she declare a minor in public health, but she also registered for a study abroad trip to Kenya where she directly translated her interest into a real-world project.

"The study abroad program was titled 'Urbanization, Health and Human Rights.' If I could pick exactly what I wanted to study, those would have been it."

To study the government and health systems under the newly created constitution, Julia conducted focus groups within small villages and with government officials seeking to understand how the country's new constitution served its people. Through her research, Julia identified key disconnects and opportunities to strengthen policy formation. Her work was ultimately published and is still used today to encourage involvement from officials. 

Positioned to lead

Impacting the health and well-being of a population is something Julia has done at South Carolina, as well. Through her work at the Carolina Survivor Clinic, Julia is part of a team of volunteers who provide holistic care to refugees. She also tutors students and coaches a youth soccer team.

"Being a University 101 peer leader and a University Ambassador with the Visitor Center have given me confidence in my leadership skills. Without even fully realizing it, those same skills have helped me communicate with people from all over the world and mentor children who have very traumatic backgrounds."

I am South Carolina.


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