Lowering the barriers to education | Julia's Student Story

Growing up only 15 minutes away from Arizona State University, Julia didn’t see herself staying close to home for college, but once she found herself on ASU’s Tempe campus, she took full advantage of all of the opportunities ASU has to offer. 

Julia currently a student in Barrett, the Honors College, double majoring in biochemistry and global health. Upon graduation, Julia still plans to continue her education: she plans to pursue a medical degree, as well as a master’s public policy. 

The Chandler, Arizona resident recently decided to add a minor in civic and economic thought and leadership after she attended the annual Constitution Day Lecture hosted by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. The programming had a significant impact on her. 

“It just changed my brain,” Julia said. 

She connected with the school’s academic advisor and decided to add a minor in civic and economic thought and leadership. She had been a part of mock government programs in high school, and it really stuck with her. 

“The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership was a great way to pursue the government-side of things, while I’m still able to pursue the medical side,” Julia said. 

Her experience at the school continued to grow, and in the summer of 2019 she joined 13 students on ASU’s first-ever trip to Israel and the West Bank as part of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s Global Intensive Experiences.

"Israel and the West Bank offered the latest opportunity for students in The College’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership to grapple with complex political ideas.

Twelve students from Arizona State University visited the region shortly after the end of the spring 2019 semester. The trip represented a first-of-its-kind experience to explore diverse views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, practice service and leadership and reflect on the differences in the democracies of Israel and the United States.

The nine-day Global Intensive Experience is part of a series of courses in the school about democracies around the world. The course provides three credits toward degrees or minors in civic and economic thought and leadership. The trip challenged the students to assess their own views about justice, democracy, conflict and leadership through a blend of readings, meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and activists and immersive experiences.” - ASU Now

While brief, Julia said during the 10-day experience she was able to listen to perspectives from both sides of the conflict, which broadened her understanding of both politics and human interactions. That had a major impact on her perspective of the conflict. 

“It’s so important you take advantage of that short time by being present in every single conversation and engaging with all of the speakers,” Julia said about her time in Israel. “Because that is not something you are going to be able to get once you come back to Arizona — it’s exclusive to the location that you are at and it is definitely going to be able to change your world view and make you better for it.

Following the end of the Global Intensive Experience, Julia remained in Israel as part of an internship in Tel Aviv, which was supported through funding from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.  She worked for the African Refugee Development Center as a higher education caseworker with Sudanese and Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers to help get them resources to apply for university, look into vocational and language education, and help them get integrated into the Israeli society.

“I would not have been able to do that trip without that funding (from the school),” Julia said “... It was a fantastic opportunity overall.” 

After her internship, Julia joined a program in ASU’s International Development office called Education for Humanity, which works to extend ASU’s online education to refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. 

“That’s something I think is unique to ASU, is that I’ve been able to find so many organizations just within that realm of working with refugees.”

In the end, Julia hopes to use her medical education and her experiences with the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership to help people around the world who need it most. 

“I can hopefully work to eliminate some of the barriers to quality education for people who are underserved.”

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership offers Global Intensive Experiences during academic breaks. These are opportunities to travel and apply themes learned in classes to real service and leadership projects abroad. Prior to traveling, student participants will join classmates and faculty in the study and discussion of culture, politics, and relevant contemporary issues in the countries they will visit. During their travels, GIE participants will research, explore, work, and collaborate with people from different backgrounds and perspectives in order to gain a deeper understanding of the important issues that they will need to consider in order to be effective, thoughtful, globally-conscious leaders.