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The Humanities Program

Shelby Carvalho

Shelby Carvalho

1. What was your Humanities contract about?

My humanities contract was centered around the nexus of education and development. I drew on courses in economics, education, political science, and sociology. I supplemented my academic work with research abroad and internships in education and policy. My goal was to build a holistic understanding of the challenges of social and economic development in the US and abroad and how education could play a role in improving the lives of people around the world. After learning about the challenges girls' face in pursuing a quality education in many developing countries, I chose to do my thesis as a comparative analysis of trends and policies in girls' education in low-income countries. 

2. How did the Humanities program and Liberal Arts education benefit you?

Through the humanities program I was able to take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring a very complex issue. Being able to draw on courses across campus allowed me to take advantage of UT's great resources both in and outside of the College of Liberal Arts and challenged me to consider issues and opportunities in education and development from various perspectives. The opportunity to bring my work together through a senior thesis allowed me to focus on an area of education I had come to care deeply about during my time as an undergraduate and proved to be excellent research experience that gave me a leg-up in graduate school.

3. What was your favorite experience at UT?

I can't pick just one! If I have to though, I'd say participating in Alternative Spring Break during my first year. I chose to volunteer in under-served schools in Phoenix, AZ that year with Teach For America. This trip sparked my interest in inequity in education and I've pursued that interest ever since. I also met fellow UT volunteers, Dustin and Emily, who are still my best friends today. 

4. Describe your career and how you found this position.

All of my work since graduating has built on my experience in the Humanities program. I'm still working in education and development and am currently a research consultant for the World Bank and the Education Commission. It's exciting and rewarding to get to work both in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Washington, DC conducting rigorous research that is used to inform education policy directly. This year I had the privilege of working with international leaders on a global report of the state of education today and opportunities for ambitious improvement efforts in places it's needed most. Seeing the work presented at the United Nations General Assembly in New York was surreal.