Mandy Jústiz

Early in high school, I realized that I belong in an interdisciplinary career. My varied collection of interests has grown and changed as I have over the years. It is this multitude of loves which makes me who I am! In high school, I split my focus between service, science, and the performing arts. My love of science began at an early age and led me to explore mentorship roles in high school. During the beginning of high school, I created an aquatic conservation curriculum for the University of Texas Elementary School and became one of ten women to receive the 2013 Girl Scouts National Young Women of Distinction Award in recognition of my work. The summer after my junior year, I brought my love of science and service to my role as a summer teaching fellow at Breakthrough Austin, where I taught engineering, anatomy, and an expanded version of my marine biology curriculum. I was also an enthusiastic member and the president of my high school’s Science Olympiad team. I found my love for the performing arts in middle school. From early on in my high school years, musical theater and classical vocal training occupied my free time, and these passions began to shape and refine my confidence and public speaking skills. During my junior year, I cofounded the VIVA Arts Council, giving a voice to the student body in conversations about the direction of the arts program at our high school. In my senior year, I joined the city of Austin in celebrating the arts at the Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards as a Best Actress nominee for my role as Mrs. Lovett in our high school production of Sweeney Todd. My diverse set of interests is what makes the University of Texas the perfect school for me. I am fortunate enough to be a Plan II major, so I have the opportunity to learn about everything from hieroglyphics to physics and debate these topics in my day to day classes. Plan II focuses on interdisciplinary skills and learning, which makes it a perfect fit for my interests and long term goals. My courses and mentors in the Dean’s Scholars Honors Program push me to ask questions and explore new areas of science. It is because of this College of Natural Science honors program that I became involved in a research lab from my first semester at UT. I am currently an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Davis’s TX Sprouts project, which seeks to understand how school nutrition, cooking, and gardening classes can affect child dietary habits. I love the work I do and am proud to contribute to such an important research topic. Throughout my time at UT, my interests have evolved, and I have found overlap between many of them. Most notably, I have made the decision to pursue a career as a registered dietician, a profession which combines my interests in science, cooking, conservation, teaching, and so many more!

Majors: Dietetics; Plan II Honors

Honors Programs: Dean’s Scholars Honors Program; Plan II Honors; Nutrition Honors

Other Academic Interests: Conservation and Business

Extracurricular Activities: Dr. Jaime Davis’s TX Sprouts Project (undergraduate researcher, teaching assistant), Forty Acres Scholars Program Finalist Weekend Committee (senior coordinator), Dean’s Scholars Honors Program Council (elected representative), Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity, Forty Acres Scholars Program Service Committee

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program (FASP)?
The Forty Acres Scholars Program caught my attention for many reasons, but the vast network of Texas Exes and the accomplished scholars within the program are what truly captured my heart. I have lived in Austin my entire life, so I witnessed the amazing accomplishments of University of Texas graduates from a young age. Growing up, these professionals were my role models, and it amazed me that Forty Acres Scholars had access to all of these incredible individuals. I knew that the connections I would build as a Forty Acres Scholar would be invaluable to my personal and professional development! I believe that the people you surround yourself with are a reflection of who you want to be. Reading about the remarkable things Forty Acres Scholars accomplished, I knew that the Forty Acres Scholars Program was a group I wanted to be a part of. My cohort is beyond accomplished – They are the most kind, supportive, driven, passionate, enthusiastic, and inspirational people I have ever met. Every day, they push me to reach new heights. And truly, I am a better person because of them.