Emily Lichtenheld

“My parents taught me the importance of public service, education and helping people who have less than you.”

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Majors: Economics and International Political Economy
Minor: Political Science
Expected Graduation: May 2012

UT Dallas Achievements & Activities

  • McDermott Scholar
  • CV Honors Program
  • Fred Hill Scholarship
  • Student Ambassadors
  • Student Government - Academic Affairs Chair
  • White House Intern - Office of Cabinet Affairs
  • Human Rights Initiative of North Texas Intern
  • Senator Florence Shapiro District Office Intern
  • Volunteer work at the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center, Dallas Museum of Art and Habitat for Humanity
  • Studied abroad in Argentina and Peru

Deciding on Economics and International Political Economy

I decided to major in economics and international political economy (IPE) because I was enrolled in all pre-med classes and, although I thought I could do well in a pre-med track major, the classes didn't interest me and the career track didn't inspire me. What I was really interested in and passionate about were social issues, political issues, economics and international affairs. I felt like an economics degree would provide me with the hard skills that would make me competitive in the work place and the IPE degree would allow me to explore political issues around the globe and really focus on an interest area that I could specialize in.

My interest in global and social issues came from traveling across the United States visiting national parks with my family every summer growing up. I got to experience a lot of different cultures and really became interested in people. We also used to visit Mexico once a year, which is where I learned to love Latin America and why I chose to study the region as the focus of my IPE degree. My interest in politics grew out of the 2000 election when I was a die-hard Gore supporter. I painted flags and "Gore" on my cheeks before school on election day and stood outside the voting site at my elementary school - I was in 5th grade) - telling people why they should vote for him. This election was the first time I realized that politics is one route to inciting change. My parents - who were both teachers when I was growing up - have been major influences. They taught me the importance of public service, education and helping people who have less than you.

My EPPS Success

I attribute my success in EPPS to great interaction with faculty, specifically Dr. Jennifer Holmes, who has been a mentor to me. So many of the faculty are always available for extra help and guidance.They are really interested in getting to know their students and are invested in their classes. I also have a wonderful advisor, Nora Hernandez, who is beyond helpful with planning courses, study abroad, internships, etc. and making it all work together.

Plans for the Future

I plan to go to law school, although I'm not sure if I'll take time off in-between to work or not. After law school I want to work in the private sector for a while, as most of my experience thus far has been in the public sector and with non-profits. I think it's important to have a diverse set of experiences that span different sectors and groups. I'm interested in eventually having a career that will allow me to advocate on behalf of causes that I believe in.

Advice to Prospective EPPS Students

I recommend considering EPPS because the degree plans provide enough structure to offer you a valuable degree but enough flexibility to allow you to complement your degree in a variety of ways with internships, study abroad, etc. The amazing and available faculty, as well as the diverse and unique classes offered, makes EPPS unlike any other school at UT Dallas.

Other Interests

In my free time, I like to travel, camp, hike, visit national parks, read, play the piano, and spend time with my friends and family.