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Examples from Reflection Essays

Disciplinary Awareness

“The research I did this summer focused on sorption of cesium and strontium by soils. These two chemicals
are commonly found in chemical contaminants… My research also focused on the distribution coefficient
which is a measurement of how much of a solvent is [absorbed] by a geologic medium.”

“I found that many of the readings I came across regarding abortion seemed to convey a strong belief in
human rights, which was demonstrated by the dichotomy of “pro-choice” versus “pro-life” beliefs. Both of
these stances entail issues surrounding a woman’s right to choose when to give birth as well as a fetus’s right
to live, which fall under the realm of reproductive rights.”

“The Attorney General can have an impact on public policy when he issues opinions on the legality or
constitutionality of proposed or enacted laws. Attorney General Abbott discussed how he established a Cyber
Crimes Unit, a Fugitive Unit, and expanded the Medical Fraud Control Unit. He also discussed how he
appeared before the Supreme Court in order to defend the constitutionality of the 10 Commandments display
on the Texas Capital grounds… The Attorney General can become involved with high-profile public policy,
which can leave the office in the public eye.”

Interdisciplinary Awareness

“To understand how a contaminant moves through the soil, you have to understand geology, mineralogy,
environmental engineering, and a little bit of nuclear chemistry. If I did not research the
mineralogy of my soil sample, I would not have understood what was absorbing the cesium and strontium
ions. If I didn’t know some about nuclear chemistry, I would have not understood radioactive liquid
tracers that are used to measure distribution coefficients. The engineering work comes in to play in
designing and implicating experiments with the implementation of a solution method after.”

“While I was reading about abortion policies, I was able to apply a government and international
perspective to my research. I also visited health clinics which allowed me to view this issue from a
healthcare perspective as well as a social work perspective by witnessing the effects and
implementation of governmental policies. Finally, in reflecting about my experience, I was able to apply a
women’s studies perspective that reflected patriarchal ideals which makes accessing healthcare difficult
for some women.”

“Journalism played a role in my research, because I had to go through many news articles finding relevant
materials for my research… Social Justice is a very important part of my research, and I found out through
this connecting experience that there are many organizations dedicated to the cause of Social Justice and they
employ the same scientific methods in seeking out the truth… I learned that most things involve multiple
disciplines like my research. For example, for politics to reach the people, the media has to first organize
the information in ways that the people can understand.”

Interdisciplinary Comparison

“A difference that can be observed of different disciplines is their purpose. The environment side is trying
to keep the planet clean and sustainable. The purpose of economics (there are many depending on which
side one looks from) can be seen as the study of the human behavior and their consumer habits with respect
to monetary values. Despite the differences between the two subjects they intersect since policies tend to
depend on the economics. A common underlying similarity between disciplines is the expansive nature of
things. No discipline is one sided, there is always more to what it seems. They all analyze concepts and come
to a conclusion, which can be influenced by their moral purpose.”

“The most striking realization I came to was that sociology and psychology relate to each other in more
complex ways than I had thought. Previously, I built on the analogy of the natural sciences to think of
sociology as the emergent outcome of psychology, like biology arises from chemistry, which itself comes
from physics. However, in Spain I realized this is an oversimplification. Psychology, identity, and (therefore)
action, are constructed through relationships with existing social structures. Since we are born into
societies with existing power and normative relationships, sociology influences psychology very strongly.”

“Through this research, I saw the connection these three topics had with each other. One aspect of politics
is the process of making laws, and laws can be made to ensure Social Justice. In the case of my research,
one of the bills I was researching was about putting regulations on the payday industry and the industry was
giving a lot of campaign contributions to stop this bill.”

Transfer of Knowledge and Skills

“I have some basic coursework in geology which gave me a broad introduction to some of the mineralogy
work I performed. My chemical engineering coursework in transport phenomena also gave me some
background information in liquid and solid movement.”

“I found that I was also well versed in women’s reproductive health issues, such as pregnancy, contraceptives,
and pregnancy because I had just taken a Women’s Reproductive Health course the previous semester that
focused on the sociological and biological perspective of these issues. Because I had this background, I felt that
I had a strong foundation regarding these issues as I began my research which allowed for a further
understanding of these subjects.”

“Knowledge I have gained in previous experiences and courses affected the way I understood my connecting
experience with Consumer Protection Division. Previously, I interned with city government and a majority of
my work involved Internet research. I learned how to summarize the research, pull out the important points,
and present it to my supervisor. All of these skills transferred to my experience with CPD and were further
developed with my research on Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA).”

Self-Reflection

“Before my internship I knew I wanted to attend grad school, but I always said I want to work two years then
figure it out. My coworkers pushed and poked my brain to really determine what I want to do now. They
made me realize how hard it is to start working and go back to grad school. I have now figured out that I
want to start my master’s degree the following fall. I have also decided that not only do I want to get my
Master’s in Environmental Engineering but I also want to get my Master’s in Business Administration.”

“I discovered that as I continued to learn about the area of reproductive rights, I was drawn to the social
work perspective because of my interest in a “hands-on” approach to aiding women accessing these services. I
also learned that I am much more interested in the practical application of this research, such as social work
practice, rather than performing the actual research. I feel that this experience has furthered my knowledge in
women’s reproductive health issues and will be beneficial for me when I apply to intern at a local women’s
health clinic in the fall.”

“I have discovered many different aspects of myself through my connecting experience. While working with
Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA) I realized that I do have an interest in the laws that regulate
the Internet. I enjoyed my assignment and would like to see how the act develops and how it is enforced in
the future… Through my connecting experience, I have been able to refine my professional goal of becoming a
lawyer. The experience has allowed me to observe the public service career path and now I believe it is a path
that I want to take… The experience taught me that I can do both and I do not have to rule out one or the
other. The experience also taught me that I want to go into an area of law that allows me to prepare and
present cases in court.”

Understanding of Subject

“The whole idea of conservation and sustainability is important to the field of environmentalism. At
Environment Texas their mission is to have clean air, clean water and open spaces… There were various bills
that Environment Texas was supporting such as an extension to the Clean Water Act that would apply to
intermittent water ways, support for a limit on mercury emissions, a push for more electric cars and better
building codes. All the campaigns had a common goal of bettering the environment through different means
such as more stringent codes and regulation or using more environmental resources.”

“I learned that a social justice view explores the conventions of how local policies reflect issues of morality
rather than medical facts about women’s health, and how these policies negatively affect women seeking these
services. I observed that these perspectives of human rights and social justice remain relevant within the realm
of women’s reproductive health as local policies reflect, or fail to reflect these ideals.”

“Social Justice, Politics, and Law are all relevant disciplinary perspectives to my connecting experience. By
interning with the Consumer Protection Division, I actively participated in social justice by aiding the CPD
lawyers in protecting Texas consumers and the business community. I quickly learned that consumer
complaints formed the basis of many investigations and legal actions that brought companies performing
deceptive business practices to justice. One of the activities I participated in included consumer complaint
review and analysis.”

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