Norma Herrera, Powers Fellow: LBJ School of Public Affairs Master's Student

Uploaded by utgradschool on 07.12.2011

My name is Norma Herrera and I'm a master of Public Affairs student at the LBJ School of Pubic Affairs.
I just began this program in Fall of 2011.
During undergrad, I studied sociology and became interested in the issues of structural social inequalities and how those affect social mobility.
After graduating, I worked for a state agency that delivers health services to Medicaid recipients
and really got to see first-hand the disparities in access to health care and troubling health outcomes in the Rio Grande Valley, where I'm from.
I also briefly participated in some advocacy work for a community engagement organization that serves low income communities.
And ultimately I decided on a degree in public policy because I felt it was a unique way to continue to pursue my interests in academia, professional practice and advocacy.
In the end I decided on LBJ because they have a really great balance of academics and practitioners in their faculty.
And not only that, the school really values multi-disciplinary perspectives.
Again, that comes through in their faculty and course offerings.
After that, just placing a visit to LBJ and getting to experience Austin just sealed the deal.
In keeping with my interests in social equality and social mobility, one area I'd currently like to focus on is educational opportunities for low income and minority communities.
To that end, I'm targeting projects and classes that focus on issues of access to higher education, quality of elementary and secondary education and the economics of education.
The Powers Fellowship is allowing me the freedom to concentrate on my coursework and extracurricular and research interests.
Because I have that freedom, I'm able to commit to projects on a volunteer, part-time basis.
So, hopefully, this will help me flesh out my interests and find my niche in the broad research agenda at LBJ.
I'm a first generation graduate student and the Powers Fellowship has really given me a confidence boost in my ability to succeed in this really rigorous, top-ranked graduate program.
It's an amazing feeling to know that a group of people have bestowed their trust and resources on me and believe in my future and my success.
To me, being a UT graduate student means a strenuous but enriching process in the company of some pretty amazing and inspiring people.
I have great respect for my fellow LBJ students, some of whom are well into productive and fruitful careers and I'm looking forward to learning from their experiences.
Yeah, absolutely! I want to go back home. That was the primary reason I wanted a degree in public policy.
I wanted to put my education to good, practical use.
I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but I know I want to be back in the Valley, and I want to help people improve their lives.