Archer Fellowship Preps Student for Public Health Career

By Hannah Hubbard, EPPS Freshman

To spend a semester in Washington D.C. sounds appealing to most, but earning college credit and professional experience at the same time is a nice draw that the Bill Archer Fellowship Program offers to students in the University of Texas system. Sociology major Jessica D'Souza heard about the Archer Fellowship during her freshman year and thought it sounded amazing to be in Washington D.C. and spend time in the middle of the action where so many important decisions are made.

With her combination of academics and activities, D'Souza was a perfect candidate for the fellowship. She was selected as one of the nine students from UT Dallas to intern during the past year. In addition to being a McDermott Scholar, a Student Ambassador, and part of the CV Honors College, D'Souza has a range of extracurricular activities. She has volunteered abroad, joined Kappa Alpha Theta, and participated in many conferences.

While in Washington D.C., D'Souza interned in the Government Relations department of the American Public Health Association. As the only intern, D'Souza was able to attend briefings on Capitol Hill, develop educational materials for Congressional offices, and research national, state and local legislation concerning public health. She researched various health care programs and developed materials for public health campaigns. The internship gave Jessica the opportunity to personally discover how health policy integrates within clinical health care.

Back at UT Dallas, D'Souza is finishing her sociology degree along with pre-med requirements and plans to attend medical school after graduation. According to Jessica, "Sociology is highly relevant to [her] interest in public health and population health. As a physician and as a public health advocate, it will be essential to understand the context of patients' lives and to tackle broader population issues that determine our health outcomes." Working at the American Public Health Association exposed D'Souza to the major current movements in the public health field. The internship also made her "aware of legislative solutions to address social trends."

With this professional experience D'Souza can take her combination of knowledge about medicine, sociology and public heath to bring "a unique perspective to communities and organizations I may work with and be a creative, broad thinking contributor."