(Dec. 8, 2017) -- Meet Jewel Barnett ’14. When this first-generation student walks across the stage at Commencement this December, she will be celebrating both academic and personal achievements.
Barnett decided to attend UTSA after going through a recovery program at the homeless shelter, Haven for Hope, in San Antonio. While attending the program’s different sessions, she realized she wanted to study counseling.
“I was receiving counseling and knew I wanted to give back and help others by doing this type of work,” said Barnett.
After meeting people at Haven for Hope who believed in her, Barnett enrolled in the Master of Science degree program for Clinical Mental Health Counseling at UTSA in 2012.
“It was because of UTSA that I not only got the opportunity to attend school but I was able to leave Haven for Hope,” said Barnett. “Since enrolling at UTSA in 2012, I’ve had my own place and have been sober for six years.”
Before completing her master’s program at UTSA in 2014, Barnett knew she wanted to continue her education and earn a Ph.D. in a health-related field. A work-study job at the UTSA Downtown Campus unexpectedly led the then-master’s student to applied demography.
Barnett took a position as a graduate research assistant in the UTSA Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research (IDSER), which is under the direction of Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter. In this role, she collected data and worked on state and federal projects with doctoral candidates. Today, Barnett is pursuing her Ph.D. in applied demography and Potter is her dissertation chair.
Barnett says that Potter has been instrumental in her success as a doctoral candidate by sharing his expertise as she conducts her own health-related research.
As a person who has experienced both food insecurity and homelessness before attending UTSA, Barnett’s dissertation focuses on the impact of place and food insecurity as it relates to childhood obesity outcomes.
“I hope my research will improve health outcomes for children and their families,” said Barnett. “I want my work to impact public policy one day.”
Reflecting on her time at UTSA, the Roadrunner says some of her most memorable moments came from when she presented her research at conferences.
During the Spring of 2017, Barnett presented research at the UTSA Applied Demography Conference, hosted by IDSER, on the impact of socioeconomic determinants on children living in households receiving food stamps in the United States. She’s also presented her research at the Southwest Social Sciences Association’s annual meeting in Austin. Both conferences gave Barnett the opportunity to network with people doing cutting-edge research in her field.
Looking ahead, the UTSA doctoral student says the coursework and skills she gained while at UTSA are setting her up for success. In the future, she plans to continue her research on food insecurity and childhood health.
“It’s definitely been a journey but I would encourage students to keep pushing for their dreams and know people at UTSA will help them succeed,” said Barnett. “UTSA does a great job of helping first-generation students, like myself, learn about your place in the world and how you can help others.”
Learn more about UTSA's first-generation family.
Learn more about the UTSA Ph.D. program in applied demography.
Learn more about UTSA Commencement.
Meet other Fall 2017 graduates.
The events are a collaborative effort between student organizations, student led-groups, and campus departments.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
UTSA is a designated early voting site for the May 4 Joint, General and Special Election. Any registered Bexar County voter can skip the lines and cast a ballot at UTSA from Monday, April 22 to Tuesday, April 30.H-E-B Student Union (HSU 1.002), Main Campus
In this UTSA 50th anniversary speaker series, Roger Enriquez, UTSA associate professor of criminal justice, explores how immigration past and present helps us understand its future.Casa Hernán, 411 Cevallos St., San Antonio
Discussion will explore the new Master of Arts in Global Affairs offered through the Department of Political Science and Geography at UTSA. Guest speakers will include representatives from local and federal government, military, and civil society.H-E-B Student Union Travis Room (HSU 2.202), Main Campus
An evening of fine food and drink inspired by UTSA’s renowned Mexican Cookbook Collection. Proceeds from the event will support UTSA’s Mexican Cookbook Collection.Hotel Emma, 136 E Grayson St., San Antonio
Grab a friend and sign up to bowl with fellow Roadrunners and raise money for scholarships.University Bowl, 12332 I-10 #10, San Antonio
The UTSA Department of Art and Art History present the work of emerging artists who are graduating from UTSA. Work ranges from traditional methods and materials, interdisciplinary and new media. Themes range from social and cultural critique to investigations that are challenging and exquisite explorations in creative form and image.Arts Building, Main Art Gallery (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
UTSA's first spring Commencement ceremony begins at 10 a.m., May 18 and honors graduates from the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and University College.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.