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Julia Notz — HC Student Spotlight

Across the U.S., there are approximately three men for every one woman majoring in economics, and that ratio has remained the same for over two decades. Second-year Oregon State University Honors College student and public relations officer of the OSU College of Liberal Arts Economics Club, Julia Notz, however, is determined to pave the way for women in her field — and she’s beginning right here at OSU.

 “The most meaningful thing about the Honors College to me has been connecting with professors and being around other passionate students.”

Originally from Hillsboro, Oregon, Julia is currently pursuing a major in economics with a minor in public health. She chose OSU because of its affordability for in-state students as well as its breadth of programs. “I wanted to choose a school with a lot of options,” she says. “Going to a bigger school offers tons of different research opportunities.” Julia found the Honors College to be a perfect fit, and has been involved with the HC since her first year.

Julia got involved with the Honors College partly because it offered a small-college atmosphere, which helped combat the challenges of online school. “The Honors College connected me with people that I still [keep in touch with] to this day,” she says. Specifically, she was drawn to the support in exploring the honors thesis project right away, the encouraging attitude of the honors staff and the passion of the HC advisors. Julia recently joined the HC winter book club as well. “The most meaningful thing about the Honors College to me has been connecting with professors and being around other passionate students.”

This year, Julia got involved in a project with economics professor Paul Thompson, who conducts research in public schools. Specifically, Julia and Dr. Thompson are studying the effects of a four-day school week on children and whether or not it would be beneficial to implement this schedule in place of the traditional five-day school week. Fast forward to present day and Julia is independently starting data collection on K12 districts, inquiring about school schedules, meals and the wellbeing of students. “This research is very interdisciplinary,” she explains. “It relates perfectly to my major.”

Economics Club

Julia discovered the Economics Club during her first year at OSU, which at the time was fully remote. “It was nice to get connected within my major, and a lot of students were older and gave me great advice,” she says. Members choose one topic per week to discuss, and the breadth of topics covered — from women in sports to vaccines to space economics — has shown Julia just how far economics can reach. It’s also created a safe space for her to speak her mind on a plethora of topics, both neutral and controversial.

 “Economics is very white, male and finance-focused, and I want to reach farther than that.”

During the winter term of her first year, Julia was elected public relations officer, and today she runs public relations for the club as well as the coordination of professional development events, where individuals from the field of economics come to speak. “I was very impressed with how these professionals were so open about lending a hand, and that support made me proud to bring these people together,” she says. Julia is also passionate about creating a space for women in economics. “Economics is very white, male and finance-focused, and I want to reach farther than that.” Her goal within the Economics Club is to focus on unconventional topics that stray from the traditionally male-dominated narrative.

State of Oregon Public Health Injury and Violence Prevention Program

Through a class in public health, her minor, Julia earned a mini-internship with the State of Oregon Public Health Injury and Violence Prevention Program. Her work centered around a “shared risk and protective factors” approach that focuses on the causes of disease and violence. Rather than treating disasters and violence as they happen, Julia aimed to look at significant, contributing factors like wealth, stable housing and stigma. She created room to focus on these factors, explaining the need for collaboration and pushing for better communication and connection within the branch. Julia then took the knowledge she gained from her internship experience and applied it directly to her public health coursework by creating a poster to inform the public on these topics. The State of Oregon Public Health Injury and Violence Prevention Program ended up using this poster as an outreach tool

Looking Ahead

Julia is a prime example of how personal drive — when combined with opportunity — can produce a multitude of experiences and achievements. Moving forward, her primary focus will be in urban and regional planning, with a specific concentration on the intersection of planning and public health. Upon graduation, she intends to join the workforce before pursuing a master’s degree, and — one day — a Ph.D. that will allow her to focus on giving back to her community through research and teaching.

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