Throughout my time studying in the College of Social and Behavioral Science, I have had the opportunity to intern with various non-profit organizations. One of them is with Voices for Utah Children, in which I was assigned to work on a report that analyzes public investment in Utah children from FY2008 to FY2016. During my research, I had an opportunity to take a closer look at many children budgets, such as K-12 education, food and nutrition, juvenile justice, and income support. By the end of the internship, my team and I found that although for the last two years overall state investment has exceeded its pre-recession level in 2008, funding for K-12 education specifically still remains below pre-recession level.
The research that we published got the coverage of many local media outlets, but that’s not the main reason why I am proud of the project. I came to Utah as an immigrant not very long ago, enrolling as a sophomore in a public high school. I still remember the first textbooks I got to borrow from the library without any fees, the fee-reduced lunches in the school’s cafeteria, and most importantly, the ESL program that taught me my very first English words. None of them would have been there had it not been for the public funding from the state. As I analyzed each number in the report, I am hopeful that it will make an impact on the state’s capitol when legislators decide the budget for the coming years.