Please join me to congratulate the 2023 Engaged Learning Starter Award (ELSA) Winners: Alina, Alexis, and Ryenne! The award is given to first year students who had come up with their own research projects to explore throughout the year. These three winners will be presenting their findings at the Fall Research Symposium on November 1st! Until then, let’s get to know more about each of the awardees and their projects.
Alexis Schroeder is a second-year transfer student majoring in Psychology and Health and Society with a minor in Sociology. Alexis knew that she wanted to gain experience in research and through the help of SMU professor Dr. Nia Parson, she was connected to Engaged Learning to pursue her passion project: Medical Ableism: Neoliberal Stigmatization of Holistic Medicine in the Biomedical System.
Alexis’s research discusses the “intersection between neoliberalism and the biomedical healthcare system and how that perpetuates systematic medical ableism.” This topic is incredibly close to Alexis’s heart as she is disabled and is very active in the disabled community on SMU’s campus. Alexis wants to advocate for “representation by the represented” and promote the voices of disabled people in academic literature. Additionally, Alexis discusses how to balance ancient medical practices with biomedicine to create a more integrative approach to healthcare. This research project also plays a larger role in Alexis’s long-term goals because she wants to go into therapy and to manage her practice in an integrative way.
Alina Munoz is a second-year student majoring in Health and Society and minoring in Neuroscience and Spanish. Alina was introduced to the fellowship through Rotunda Scholars, an SMU program for first year students from underrepresented communities, that introduced her to the Office of Engaged Learning. Alina’s project is called Saludstria: Opening the Gates to Healthcare.
Saludstria is an important key word for this project as it is a combination of the Spanish word for health, Salud, and Alina’s grandmother’s name Salustria. Her grandmother deals with diabetes and high cholesterol and Alina would accompany her grandmother to the doctor’s office to help translate information. It was there she saw firsthand all “the barriers that individuals have with healthcare,” especially minorities. Alina works directly with her local community at the Agape Clinic and is planning on using the data she collected from surveys from the clinic in her research on how “minorities are blocked from receiving the proper care they need.” At the Fall Symposium you can learn more about this research project and see the real impact Alina has made on her community in Dallas!
Finally, we have Ryenne Reiter, a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Human Rights with minors inNeuroscience and Law and Legal Reasoning. Her journey began with Rotunda Scholars as well.
In October, Ryenne will be presenting her project: The Role of Gender Expectations and Stereotypes in Eating Disorders. This will be a literature review along with her own qualitative study of comments found on TikTok videos by famous fitness influencers. She chose this topic because of how social media can “teach young women and young girls to think about femininity, beauty, what it means to look feminine, and how that develops into eating disorders later on.” Her passion for this research project comes from a combination of her own experiences during high school and classes she has taken here at SMU like psychopathology with Dr. Alicia Meuret. The knowledge she gained through her classes has helped her understand her own experiences better. This inspired Ryenne to create this project because she “knew that people don’t like to talk about the hard things, but [she] feels like they need to be addressed.”
All three of the ELSA winners have worked incredibly hard this past year to create high quality projects inspired by their own stories and passions. Keep an eye out for them and the symposium to learn more!