Hailey Oppenlander | November 19, 2018
Juliana Ison has always had a passion for service. Even before coming to Notre Dame, she had already spent 1,000 hours volunteering.
It wasn’t until a service trip to Chile this summer, however, that the senior saw how her majors — psychology and Spanish — could blend with a career path that involves helping others.
In her study abroad program, she lived with a host family in a wealthy area of Santiago, a city with one of the largest income inequalities in the world. As part of one of her classes, Poverty and Development, she volunteered every week at a daycare in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
There, she saw how economic disparity affects the development of children.
“Some of the 1- to 2-year-old grandchildren of host families had a really large vocabulary and could draw,” she said. “And then some of the children I was working with couldn't draw and maybe couldn’t even speak — but they were older than some of those children I was surrounded by in the wealthy host-family community.”
Her experience reshaped her worldview and her plans for the future. After graduation, Ison plans to spend the year working as a research lab manager, then hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and a master’s degree in public policy so she can make a difference in the lives of children like the ones she served in Chile.
“I can work on creating tangible change with the research I'm doing, so I can not only work with vulnerable populations but also be able to create change for helping improve their situations,” she said.
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