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Natasha Wilkins
Through engaging in my courses and traveling abroad, I developed a deep passion for a career I never imagined I would pursue.

Profile: Natasha Wilkins

Undergraduate Student

“The relevance of Agricultural and Consumer Economics [ACE] to everyday life encouraged me to continue with that major after entering the University of Illinois,” said Natasha Wilkins, an ACE major with a double minor in Urban Planning and International Development Economics. She believes that policy and economics affect almost every aspect of daily life, from what we eat to the cost of the gas that fuels our vehicles.

“My decision to minor in International Development Economics came about from my study abroad experiences in South Africa and Sierra Leone, and the captivation of my interest by various courses regarding policy making and poverty alleviation in developing nations,” Natasha says. “I decided to double-minor to focus my non-major courses on topics that will enhance my understanding of my major, while simultaneously broadening my view of the world.”

Natasha has been involved with a multitude of activities outside the classroom, including a trip to Washington, DC., an internship with the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, and volunteering in East St. Louis. These experiences provided knowledge about her interests and helped prepare her to apply for Teach for America. Natasha will begin teaching in Memphis, Tennessee, in the fall of 2014.

“Many of my courses have discussed the prevalent and deepening inequalities of our education system and provided insight into the importance of educational policy and of understanding the populations for which you wish to develop policy,” Natasha says. “As is it my long-term goal to be an effective advocate for underrepresented populations in education, working with Teach for America is the perfect opportunity to engage with students who are in need of effective educational policy and to better understand the intricacies of our education system, in order to create policy from experience rather than theory.”

The opportunities Natasha has pursued as a U of I student have shaped her future, and have enabled her to explore the endless career options encompassed in her field of study.

“My dream job is to begin a micro-finance organization that provides loans for rural agriculture in either Haiti or Sub-Saharan Africa,” Natasha says. “However, I would also like to be an advocate for education reform in the U.S. in some capacity. I did not enter the university with an interest in understanding other cultures and populations or in the broad-reaching impact of policy. Through engaging in my courses and traveling abroad, I developed a deep passion for a career I never imagined I would pursue.”