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Students of The Epicenter: An Interview with Shelby Accuttoroop

Shelby Accuttoroop, a freshman at the University of Utah, is studying chemistry with a biology emphasis. She is a part of the Epicenter Advisory Committee and has a passion for medicine. Her passion for medicine and desire to make a positive impact on the world has made her a valuable asset to the Epicenter team. Accuttoroop has proven to be a true changemaker, using her skills and knowledge to help others and make a difference in the world.   

What made you decide to get involved with the Impact and Prosperity Epicenter so early on?

Accuttoroop decided to apply for and join the student advisory board for the Epicenter – a group that aims to teach people how to make an impact and provide resources to do so. Accuttoroop stated, “I think my alignment with wanting to make the future better for a large set of people really works with what the Epicenter wants to do.” She describes how she enjoys helping people understand what the Epicenter is and how it can help them achieve their goals. She is motivated by the Epicenter’s mission and sees it as a way to make a positive impact.

What advice would you give to a new student starting at the University of Utah?

Accuttoroop advises students to start small and focus on finding things that affect them personally – that they can have an impact on right now. “You do not have to start big; it grows as you go on.” Accuttoroop said, “You will find your way, but do not overstress yourself thinking ‘How can I find a way?’ when you can make an impact now.” She suggests getting a larger group of people involved and engaging with local community opportunities, such as attending a protest or rally, to make a positive impact.

What kind of culture do you hope to shape at the Epicenter, and why?

Accuttoroop hopes to help create an inclusive culture at the Epicenter that welcomes everyone who wants to make an impact.  She commented, “that’s one thing I don’t think people understand about the Epicenter – it’s not just for business majors or business scholars or people connected with our partners. It’s for anyone who wants to make an impact in any form or matter. I think a culture where people can share their ideas and not be criticized or told it’s not going to work is really important.” She emphasizes the importance of creating a space where people can share their ideas without fear of criticism and encourages thinking outside of the box. She envisions a welcoming environment for all who walk through the doors. Her vision for the Epicenter is summed up in her statement, “I want the culture to be not exactly formal in the way that we think, more outside of the box thinking and allow for people to meet with others instead of being just another building on campus. A place where people can go and feel welcome when they walk in.”

How do you see yourself making an impact in the world right now or after your time at the University of Utah?

Accuttoroop spoke about her current job and how she is making an impact by providing care to a group of people who need it the most. “I don’t do it for myself, necessarily, but they always thank me. I see that what I do makes an impact directly on their lives.” she said. Accuttoroop has many future goals, particularly her interest in equity and diversity in the healthcare industry. She stated, “I see how racial differences affect the quality of treatment people receive. Research is a big part of that, so being able to put my foot in the research field for women of color is important for not only influencing the medical field and providing better treatment to patients, but also influencing people who want to do the same thing. There aren’t a ton of role models who are the same as I am. It’s getting better, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in that way”. She hopes to influence the medical field and inspire others who want to do the same thing. Despite these challenges, Shelby remains determined to make a difference and pave the way for others.

What inspires you to be a changemaker in your community?

Growing up, Accuttoroop found herself feeling different from her peers. This experience inspired her to become a leader for other students who may have felt the same way. “Coming from a different racial background, I found myself trying to be a leader for them.” Shelby said. “During high school, I wanted to show people you can do whatever you want. It doesn’t matter who you are.”  Accuttoroop’s family also inspired her to make change. She stated, “If I see something not working, I want to find a way to fix it. That’s what led me to want to be a changemaker.”

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