Sociology Pre-Grad Intern Krysti Turnquest

Krysti TurnquestI entered the University of Texas as a freshman pursuing a biology degree, unsure of what I really wanted to do. I graduated in the spring of 2010 as a confident sociology major knowing that I wanted to pursue a career in youth work and policy. During my time with my Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) graduate student mentor, Jessica, I was able to present my research at both the Abriendo Brecha conference at UT and a national sociology conference in Chicago through an IE Travel Grant; I also visited the University of Chicago's graduate sociology program and spoke with an admissions officer. I enjoyed this experience so much and felt like I finally began to gain an understanding of what I could do in the future and how that related to my study of sociology. Participating in the IE Pre Grad Internship program encouraged me to think more critically about graduate education and contemplate what to do with an advanced degree.

Following graduation I joined an AmeriCorps program and moved to Lowell, MA to become a Youth Civic Engagement Specialist at the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC). UTEC works with young people ages 16-24 who are homeless, gang involved or court involved who have not yet received their GEDs or high school diplomas. Through a workforce development program as well as free GED and alternative diploma classes, enrichment programming and a community organizing program, we try to prepare youth for a life of social and economic success.

I loved my first year because I got to accomplish so much-the biggest of which was helping the teens I work with write a bill that is currently being debated in the Massachusetts House of Reps. This bill would allow 17 year olds in Lowell to vote in municipal elections. This year, my second, I've transitioned from a Civic Engagement Specialist to a Social Justice Educator. I now work with young people who are in our workforce development and GED programs on gaining a perspective on social issues that transcend their own individual experiences.

Next fall, after the completion of my second term as an AmeriCorps volunteer, I plan to attend graduate school at Harvard to obtain my master's degree in urban policy. I really feel that the IE Pre Grad Internship helped bring me to this path because it allowed me to develop a relationship with my graduate mentor that blossomed into an amazing resource for life post-undergrad. Jessica encouraged me to develop real-world knowledge of my field before entering graduate school so that I could gain focus and clarity about the subject matter I wanted to study. I'm so thankful that UT has such a wonderful program and that I got to be a part of it!