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#WhatStartsHere: Shadhi Mansoori

image of student Next up in our student spotlight series, we’re introducing you to Shadhi Mansoori, a neuroscience junior who plans on becoming a doctor and providing affordable preventive care to her patients. Read on to learn more about her work in the Rundberg neighborhood, and how she plans on making a broader impact on public health policy.

Activities: Austin City Hall Fellows, Longhorn Center for Community Engagement; Managing editor of the Texas Undergraduate Research Journal; Clements Center Fellowship, LBJ School of Public Affairs; Liberal Arts Honors Junior Fellow; Polymathic Scholars Program, College of Natural Sciences

Fixing problems before they start…Mansoori’s passion for healthcare started in high school when she interned at a low-cost clinic for uninsured East Dallas residents. While attending patients with chronic illnesses caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, she saw a high need for preventive care.

Reshaping public health policy… Before pursuing her dream of becoming a physician, Mansoori plans to work in public policy to bridge health disparities. “I think it’s important for policymakers to have experience in a clinic in order to implement reasonable and effective public health policy.”

One size doesn’t fit all…. “I’m interested in specializing in lifestyle design – helping people find solutions for health problems in ways that work with their own lives. Telling someone to run every day is not a solution for everyone. I want to find solutions that are tailored to each of the patients’ lives.”

Meeting a need…Since Mansoori joined the Austin City Hall Fellows program in 2015, she has been working on a healthcare resources packet, a toolkit filled with information on how to access free and low-cost clinics and services. Before jumping into the project, she and her team wanted to make sure they were providing a useful service. “We had a lot of meetings with community members and civic leaders to make sure this is a community-identified problem, and that residents would be interested in having this packet.”

Lessons in leadership…Now she is mentoring this year’s group of fellows as they expand the project. While working with her mentees, she has found the learning process is mutually beneficial. “As a mentor, it’s really insightful to get to hear another group of students’ concerns about what’s happening in the community. It’s also a learning experience working with a motivated group of students who are bringing up questions that I haven’t asked before.”

A long road ahead…While listening to residents at community meetings, she is reminded of the work that still needs to be done in underserved neighborhoods. “Some people have problems I’ve never even imagined. I remember this one woman who talked about her father who ended up homeless because he was a convicted felon and couldn’t find employment. She has a lot of bourdon now because she’s struggling to take care of herself and her father. That’s one memory that will always stay with me.”

Change will come… Mansoori believes that in time, she and her fellow teammates will help bridge disparities in Austin and across the globe. “It was inspiring working with students from different majors and ethnicities – some will be the first in their families to earn a degree. I’ve learned that we can hold strengths from all these disciplines and create an effective team to do community work.”

More about the Austin City Hall Fellows Program: Every fall semester, a group of students across all disciplines learn how to become civic leaders through service-learning. Advised by community and city leaders, as well as former fellows, they hone their skills in public service while making a positive impact on underserved communities. Go to the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement website to learn more.