Meet a Game Changer: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto

Uploaded by utaustintexas on 07.09.2012

>>Victoria DeFrancesco Soto: I decided I wanted to study politics well before I got into college
and I majored in Political Science. Looking back on it, I think the root of it was when
I was in Student Council starting in eighth grade and high school being Student Body President.
And it was all of those components of: campaigning, committees of governing, and getting things
done that drove me to want to pursue a career in Political Science.
Well first of all, politics is like any good movie; it has drama, it has suspense, it has
characters-and very saucy characters at that. But beyond entertainment, politics shapes
our very existence; it shapes the quality of the schools that our children go to, it
shapes our safety. Every single element of our life is affected by politics, whether
we want it or not.
Coming here, I realized that UT had a number of opportunities for me as a Political Scientist.
At this point I was transitioning out of being a full-time academic and going into the world
of political analysis, and UT was just incredibly inviting and open in providing me that opportunity
to bridge both of those worlds.
So, Barbara Jordan was a trailblazer; she was the first African American woman to get
elected to the Texas State Senate since Reconstruction. She was also the first African American woman
to be elected to Congress. This was a woman that did not let obstacles get in the way,
mainly segregation. What she would do is she would figure out a way to go around those
obstacles, then double-back and break those obstacles down.
Well, traditionally there’s been a divide between political scientists and political
practitioners. Political science is focusing on the analytical realm, on the data analysis,
on the research; and the practitioner is looking at the real-world, day-to-day events. Regrettably,
both of these groups rarely talk to each other and what I strive to do is bridge both of
these worlds. So in looking at political phenomena, I take from the political science realm of
looking at the research and the numbers, but making it applicable to what is on the ground
and to a general audience.