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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

Courses on international relations and topics such as genocide quickly helped Julia shape her understanding of where her interests could take her. Not only did she declare a minor in public health, but registered for a study abroad trip to Kenya where she directly translated her interest into a real-world project, enrolling in courses that covered both political science and public health.

"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 created by the new constitution created, Julia conducted focus groups within small villages as well as with government officials seeking to understand how the country's new constitution is effectively serving people. Through her research, Julia identified key disconnects and opportunities to strengthen policy formation.

"I couldn't have asked for a more perfect selection of courses. I completed a policy study through the School for International Training that examined governmental services under a new constitution, from the perspectives of the people as well as the officials, under a new constitution. My work was published and is still used 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. Julia's work experience at a previous resettlement clinic sparked a desire to continue to make a global impact back home. At the clinic, she tutors students and coaches a youth soccer team.

"Being a University 101 peer leader and a University Ambassador with the Visitor's 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."

The large range of leadership skills Julia has acquired acround the world and across different types of people will enable her to work across disciplines as she hopes to, one day, push groundbreaking public health policy forward for communities who need it most.

I am South Carolina.


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