(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.
In honor of UTSA's 50th Anniversary in 2019, the university is hosting Roadrunner Days Spring Edition - two weeks of semester-launching activities built around our deeply held values of student success, student involvement, community service and fun!Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
All UTSA students, faculty, staff, alums & families are invited to march as a unified community. Register here: bit.ly/2TYbHbR. Shuttles will be provided from the Main and Downtown Campuses.Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, 3501 MLK Dr., San Antonio
UTSA's John Nix invites the community to sing "Amazing Grace" and “We Shall Overcome” at 11 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The intent of this nationwide effort is to honor Dr. King's legacy and to spread a sense of community in the United States.Locations throughout the United States
Opening Reception got exhibit featuring artists Miguel Aragon, Aaron Coleman, Sandra Fernandez, Annalise Gratovich, Marco Hernandez, Kristen Powers Nowlin, & Patricia Villalobos EcheverriaMain Art Gallery, Arts Building (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Tracy Cowden, Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and chair of the UTSA Department of Music launches the UTSA 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series with Music as Medicine: The Power and Influence of Music on our Health.Radius Center, 106 Auditorium Cir. #120, San Antonio
UTSA African American Studies Program presents this series featuring Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus)
Join fellow Runners to walk for 10 minutes on the Main Campus. The event reminds us of the importance of exercise, diet and healthy habits in protecting our hearts.Outside the North Paseo Building, Main Campus
The annual event features authentic foods, music, dance, martial arts, shopping, games and entertainment from China, to the Indian Sub-continent, and the island nations of the Pacific. The Festival features two stages, a martial arts demonstration area, children’s hands on crafting area, anime activities, bonsai and ikebana displays, mahjong table and more.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
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.
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