(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.
Come to Bandera Market to celebrate national Hispanic Heritage Month with Hispanic vendors from a variety of countries. Free entry.Bandera Pointe Shopping Center,11627 Bandera Road
The College for Health, Community and Policy at UTSA is proud to present the Dean's Community Lecture Series, a series of events bringing community leaders from San Antonio and beyond to foster the natural leadership abilities of students while discussing critical topics in our community.Virtual Event
A video on Instagram Live (@UTSA_MSCEJ) of Chef Jesse Moreno-Valle from Aramark creating a couple of great dishes: sopa negra (black bean soup) al estilo Costa Rica y güirilas (a crepe style item made with corn and a cheese filling) from Nicaragua.Virtual Event
Visit the library to learn how to make your own Worry Dolls. Pick up a supply packet to make at the library or to take home. Worry dolls (also called trouble dolls; in Spanish, Muñeca quitapena) are small, hand-made dolls that originate from Guatemala.San Antonio Public Library, 9050 Wellwood, San Antonio, Texas 78250
For Hispanic Heritage Month this year we will be reading two books, starting in September with "I, Rigoberta Menchú", an autobiography. The October book will be "Cemetery Boys" by Aiden Thomas. Students who join the RJBC are eligible to receive the book free.Virtual Event
Dueling Tacos are on the menu for Noon Time Helping of Mexican cuisine in San Antonio Public Library's Virtual Kitchen! Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in style and discover new taco ideas!Virtual Event
Join the voice and instrument ensembles in this welcome back concert outdoors near the central fountain. Jazz, band, and choral favorites will be performed against the fall sunset--and it is all free!Sombrilla Plaza, Main 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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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.