Caitlyn Johnson, Dean Neal Berte Endowed Scholarship

Major: Interdisciplinary studies (concentration in Middle East studies)

Hometown: Signal Mountain, Tennessee

Favorite Experience at UA: One of my favorite experiences during my time at UA was serving as Director of the Student Government Association’s First Year Council, our freshman Senate. It was an all-encompassing role I took on alone as a sophomore and while it was one of the most challenging parts of my college career, it was absolutely one of the most rewarding. The team and I were able to read applications from over 1,200 freshmen, interview 250, and ultimately put together a class of 65 that we felt had the best chance of making our campus better. One particular priority of that year was conducting outreach in communities that had been historically underrepresented by SGA, and seeing the diversity of that class increase was incredibly meaningful. I was so proud of them then and I have absolutely loved seeing the impact they have continued to have on campus as they’ve gotten older.

Favorite Class: My favorite course that I took at UA was NEW490: Global Health with Dr. Amanda Espy-Brown. It’s a New College seminar course, what my program is really known for, and it was totally outside of my comfort zone. We spent the semester being presented with various global health issues and being challenged to come up with innovative solutions from an interdisciplinary perspective, with public policy students like me paired with pre-med or engineering students to help us understand the different facets of the issues. It was a challenging course, but at the end we were challenged to write a paper on potential interventions to a global health issue of our choice. It was the first time I had ever written in that format, a policy memo format that I am now all-too familiar with, and I wrote on water scarcity in the Middle East and potential resource management interventions. It was empowering because I felt as if I was writing something important and applying my education in a practical way that could one day actually help people. I’ve been chasing similar projects ever since.

Future Plans: I will be beginning law school in August 2021, but I have not yet decided where I will be attending!