25 September 2018

William Acheampong, second-year double major in Business Honors and History, is a Brumley Next Generation Scholar (our undergrad program) at the Strauss Center. Will has quickly made his mark at UT Austin, setting up the university's Doctors Without Borders chapter in between his academic achievements. He tells us about that experience, his goals for the Scholars' professional development class led by Drs. Mosser and Weaver, and more in his Brumley Student Profile:

What are you most looking forward to working on in the Scholars’ class? Any certain skills that you’re hoping to develop?

I am most excited about the fact that my scholars' class is made up of only eight other people and two great professors. While in the program, I hope to develop analytical skills through in-depth research training and public policy analysis. More than anything, I am looking forward to getting to know my class, Dr. Weaver, and Dr. Mosser on a personal level while we work on our policy project in the spring.

What led you to apply for the Brumley Scholars Program?

I first heard about the program after talking to a former Brumley Scholar named Keeton Schenck, who is also a business and liberal arts double major. Knowing about my interest in policy, Keeton pointed me in the direction of the Brumley Scholars Programs where he had been learning from and working alongside Dr. Weaver for the past year. As a business major, opportunities to pursue activities outside of business are naturally not always readily available. I was fortunate enough to have met someone with a similar background and similar set of interests who put me on the right path. After emailing with the director of the program and setting up a brief conversation about the experience, I knew a had to apply!

Tell us about your experience establishing UT Austin’s Doctors Without Borders student chapter, and what are your goals this year for the group?

Realizing how central activism and service is to our campus, it wasn’t a difficult decision to establish a student chapter of Doctors Without Borders at UT. There weren’t a lack of health-related student organizations or service organizations on our campus. However, what our campus did lack was a student organization dedicated to advocacy, service, and health with a particular focus on global humanitarian crises and alleviating the effects of those crises here in Austin. Our chapter’s leadership decided to begin work a semester before we would begin accepting members. Breaking into the crowded field of student organizations wouldn’t be easy, so we wanted to make sure that we put our cause on the radar of the university in a big way. [paragraph]

With that in mind, I began looking into ways our chapter could do just that. At the time, Doctors Without Borders had recently started a traveling exhibit called Forced From Home. The free-standing interactive exhibit was created to expose the public to the realities of the ongoing refugee crisis, which Doctors Without Borders is heavily involved with. The exhibit had two parts. The first part of the exhibit was a walk-through installation where visitors could read about the crisis and interface with DWB field workers in person. The second part of the exhibit consisted of virtual reality headsets that allowed users have a 360-degree experience in one of DWB’s refugee camps in five different locations across the globe. Throughout the day, we attracted over 500 students to our installation. Seeing students, who previously never thought twice about the realities of being forced from the only place they call home, take off the virtual reality headsets in tears reminded me why the work our student chapter does is so important. My goal for this year is to do an event of a similar scale and impact somewhere off-campus in the Austin community.

What projects or issues would you like to address in your career in nonprofit management in the public policy and global health arenas?

An area of particular interest to me is the issue of statelessness. Statelessness is a legal condition that means an individual is unable to invoke any protection of citizenship. Stateless people are often without passports or legal documentation of any kind, meaning that they cannot travel or work freely. Stateless status routinely restricts access to social services, such as education and healthcare, and poses a constant threat of deportation in many cases. In essence, stateless persons are denied the right to have rights. The cause of statelessness is often rooted is discriminatory laws that deny entire racial, cultural, or religious groups the citizenship on the basis of who they are regardless of birth or naturalization. Today, statelessness is a driver of the refugee crisis, which on its own has a number of issues involving public health and safety. My goal is to one day address the legal implications of stateless at some point in my career either through work with an NGO or the State Department.

You're considering pursuing a position in the U.S. Foreign Service after nonprofit management; what career tracks are you looking at?

Of the U.S. Foreign Service career tracks, I'm most interested in the management track. The management officers are responsible for all embassy operations, which involve anything from real estate to personnel to budgets. My hope is that my background in business will help me develop on-target solutions while being faced with fast-paced and mission-critical situations. More than anything else my goal is to serve our country while doing what I know best.

Will, we really appreciate you sharing with us!

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