Nandini Deo, Student Speaker
Nandini is graduating with Bachelors of Science degrees in International Studies and Health, Society and Policy with minors in Anthropology and Sociology. Having embarked upon her educational path as a Merrill Engineering Research Scholar, Nandini’s increasing interest in global health and preventative education drew her to interdisciplinary studies in the College of Humanities. “The more I learned about the intersections between culture, history, tradition, environment, and health, the more I recognized the importance of preventative interventions in altering health outcomes for the better,” she explains.
Nandini’s educational journey has engaged her in four years of undergraduate research, three Alternative Breaks, and countless leadership roles. Her diverse research portfolio includes a research assistantship at the Department of Metallurgical Engineering’s Center for Renewable Energy, an internship for the VA Hospital's Division of Epidemiology, and two years as an Undergraduate Research Leader for the Office of Undergraduate Research, where she most recently planned a “Women in Research” panel for the Undergraduate Research Education Series.
“I have loved being able to connect classroom learning to real-life experiences,” she says. “One of my favorite things is learning to live creatively, and adapting to uncomfortable situations in an attempt to grow or learn.”
Nandini’s adaptability is evidenced in the three Alternative Break trips she completed through the University’s Lowell Bennion Community Service Center, including one as Site Leader for the 2016 Community Health focused trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. Most recently, she traveled to Kumasi, Ghana to research chronic pain in rural populations. “I love studying health because of its vast applicability as well as its personal relevance in each person’s life,” she says. “I ultimately enjoy learning about the complexity and vulnerability that comes with being human.”
A complex student herself, Nandini’s academic advisor Ashley Glenn says of her, “Nandini is the perfect example of a student of the Humanities. She has mastered the art of learning how to think, not what to think, and has allowed her interest in health to cross disciplines and even national boundaries.”
After graduation Nandini plans to participate in a fellowship with the Global Health Corps or the Center for Disease Control before returning to pursue a master’s of public health focusing on the epidemiology of maternal and child health. Her long-term goal is to complete a Ph.D. in epidemiology, researching social determinants of women's health.
Olivia Juarez, Outstanding Senior
Olivia is graduating with an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Peace & Conflict Studies with an emphasis in global justice issues and Undergraduate Research Scholar designation.
Truly the model of an outstanding student, Olivia embodies all things we strive toward in the Humanities: she is a scholar dedicated to research, an activist committed to improving the world around her, a citizen rooted in empowering her community, and a life-long learner for whom inquiry is an essential part of living,
She chose Peace & Conflict Studies because, as she says, “it simultaneously allowed me to be a more critical thinker and reflexive communicator—a scholar and community member who honors myself and others.”
First in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, Olivia has embraced opportunity at every turn. As a student leader, she co-founded and manages Salt Lake Excess, a food recovery organization eliminating food waste and food insecurity through real-time volunteer mobilization. Olivia also served as SLCgreen’s Idle-Free City Coordinator where she contributed to eliminating 519,638 pounds of vehicle exhaust pollution in 2015. Following this programming, she spearheaded the University of Utah’s transition into an Idle-Free campus in fall 2015.
In addition to leadership, Olivia’s scholarly research has been acknowledged with invitations to present at local and national conferences, including the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis. Her paper: “Hidden Values: American Indian Epistemologies in Federal Land Management” is in the process of publication in the Hinckley Journal of Politics.
“Olivia is outstanding because she is a natural leader who combines her enthusiasm for changing the world with her love of people and her dedication and commitment to the work,” says David Derezotes, director of the Peace & Conflict Studies program. “Her leadership has positively impacted Salt Lake City, where she engaged over 150 volunteers to make the Downtown Farmers Market more ‘waste wise.’ With her leadership, the Farmers Market was awarded the Utah Recycling Alliance award for ‘Zeroing in on Zero Waste.’”
After graduation Olivia will head to Spain, where she will conduct a social network analysis of urban agriculture using Salt Lake City and Barcelona as case studies. In addition to completing graduate school and serving in public office, her long-term goals include publishing children’s books and building her own climate change resilient home.