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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

Freshmen at UT Austin are required to take an undergraduate studies course. There are over two hundred courses offered each semester, spanning many unique topics. When I was registering for my first semester at UT the orientation advisors told us to make a list of ten UGS class preferences, as those courses fill up notoriously quickly. However, once I got my turn, all of my class preferences were filled, and few options remained. Personalized Health Research (with Ladia Hernandez) was one of them, and I will never regret selecting it. 

While the lectures were informative, and included several guest speakers from health backgrounds, they weren’t the highlight. I was also the only non-hard science major in the class so I wasn’t enthralled in all of the medicine-related guest lectures. However, I got so much out of the discussion sessions and course-long project.

The discussion sessions were spent in a friendly debate over whether different health and nutrition theories are true or myths. I remember discussing whether acaí bowls are as beneficial as people claim, whether CBD is really harmful, and the limited effects of juice cleanses (think Cam from Modern Family), among other topics. For these sessions, you’d spend a little time exploring the subject beforehand, examining studies, and gaining a general understanding of it. Then, you’d contribute your findings to the group discussion. I learned something new and interesting every week that I could apply to my own life.

However, I believe the most impactful part of the course for me was the research project. I worked in a small group to conduct a small research study on the effects of probiotics on gut health (topics were assigned). I had done various projects involving research in high school, but this class taught me the details of creating an unbiased, successful study. There were three main parts to the project: creating a specific yet unbiased questionnaire, conducting research, and analyzing results. The first part in particular helped me learn more about psychology as you had to keep the user’s experience in mind. I also got very familiar with research libraries and strategies, an important area that I lack as a computer science major. The class also helped me brush up on my public speaking skills, as a presentation was required. And I did not have to write a whole formal research paper!

The course name is a bit of a misnomer as the focus isn’t on developing a personal health plan, but instead on increasing your health literacy and gaining valuable research experience. The discussions are fun, the lectures are interesting, and the project is a soft introduction to the world of research, it’s a total win. I especially recommend taking this class if you are in a non-research-related major, as it includes a lot of the information you should know about conducting studies without overloading you with details. And you might enjoy it and realize you want to go down a research track! I’ve learned invaluable skills and knowledge from this class, and I think you will too!

Victoria Plaxton is a computer science student at UT Austin. She writes about pop culture, adulting, and mental health. In her free time, she enjoys baking, going on walks, curating Spotify playlists, and exploring the city.