28 February 2018

Jacquelyn Clark, Strauss Center Brumley Scholar and Liberal Arts Honors senior in Geography & Iberian/Latin Languages, is working with her fellow Scholars, led by Dr. Catherine Weaver, on creating a comprehensive student survey on a wide range of global concerns. Jacquelyn explains the project, her role, and her academic career here for us today:

Jacquelyn: The project we are working on under Dr. Weaver targets the UT student body and seeks to uncover to what extent students are politically and socially conscious - something our generation refers to as staying “woke". Currently, us Next Generation Scholars are carefully crafting questions in order to perform a widespread survey. We want to know what and why certain global issues are most important to students as well as how they stay informed on them. My area of research focuses on Latin America, so my role is putting forth relevant content specific to that region, such as, questions about DACA, immigration, and the proposed border wall.

Strauss Center: What are some specific things you've learned over the development of this project?

JC: I’m realizing how important it is to be specific, clear, and control for biases when framing the questions for a study. Through UT's Office of Research Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), I am training right now to be certified to perform the survey and work with the data that will be collected. I hope this project will stir conversations about current events and civic engagement.

SC: What led to your interest in Iberian/Latin Languages and Cultures?

JC: From a young age, language learning was always one of my strengths. The idea that I could speak to millions of more humans by practicing Spanish was a very empowering realization I had, especially in light of the rapidly growing population of citizens within the United States with a Hispanic background. More than anything else, the chance to explore heterogenous cultures has allowed me to better understand the United States as well as the world from a different, more empathetic perspective. Studying and getting to travel through places like Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil has provided me with invaluable insights that I continue to apply in my personal and professional life.

SC: When you began as a Brumley Scholar, your research focus was on the relationship between landscapes and cultures. Is this still true, or has it changed, and what's in the future for you regarding your research?

JC: My research focus has largely come to focus on democratization in Latin America. Ongoing research by a number of professors, including Dr. Martinez on the merits of body cams worn by officers in Mexico City as well as Dr. Brinks on judicial responses to violence, led to me to ask myself bigger questions about corruption and good governance. With my sights set on law school, I want to carry this focus with me and delve into comparative international law. I want to do my part to advocate for policies that cultivate well-being in Latin America and its relations with the United States.

SC: A big thanks to Jacquelyn for answering our questions and sharing her story!