My interest in development began in high school, while I was working part-time in an organic supermarket. My coworkers and I would often discuss the issue of inequality, especially framed in terms of environmental sustainability, gender disparities, and international development efforts. As I became increasingly aware of the poverty and injustice that existed in the world, I realized that I had to make a sincere effort to use what I had been given in life to affect positive change through sustainable development.
Coming to BYU, I was disappointed to find there was no international development major; however, I settled into public health education due to the classes in international and environmental health, as well as the elective course IAS 220 (Introduction to International Development). Perhaps the most important aspect of public health as it relates to development is the goal of reducing health disparities that occur as a result of other inequalities created by the complex web of human existence. As an international development minor, I have discovered there is a place and a need for people from all backgrounds and majors to contribute their efforts to achieve successful, sustainable international development.
After taking a class on women’s health issues, I developed a keen interest in gender as it relates to international development and became involved with the WomanStats project, which researches the correlation between international security and gender disparity. The WomanStats database, compiled and continually updated and expanded by research assistants, is the largest and most comprehensive source for qualitative and quantitative information on the status of women in the world (See http://womanstats.org).