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Online Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Sciences

Aligning Her Path With Her Values

Courtney Ortañez

Courtney Ortañez

Advocate and Future Business Owner

Courtney Ortañez is an advocate for Indigenous communities, the environment, women and other marginalized people. Read how the UW Online Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Sciences program helped Courtney gain the knowledge and skills she needed to align her career path with her values.

What were you doing before ISS?

I earned my associate degree in anthropology because I loved the discipline's approach to understanding individuals, culture and society. Afterward, I worked as an administrative assistant, marketing coordinator and employee engagement associate for an engineering firm. In these roles, I used the knowledge I gained in human cultures and interactions to create the company’s internal newsletter, increase employee engagement, make recommendations to upper management to improve our workplace culture and help human resources attract top talent. Over time, I knew that I would need to finish my degree so that I would have the skills and confidence to take the lead on other initiatives that are important to me.

How did the ISS program help you with your goals?

With ISS, I was able to polish my writing and communication skills, learn how to leverage research to make the greatest impact and stand more fully in my identity as an activist.

What courses had a significant impact on your career?

Numerous courses in the ISS program greatly impacted me. Political Ecology of the World Food System with Rebakah Daro Minarchek opened my eyes to the imbalance, overproduction and overconsumption of highly processed foods. After this course, I decided to serve as a coordinator for the UW American Indian Studies Department’s annual symposium called The Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ: Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge. This event highlights Indigenous communities’ wisdom about food and food production methods. This experience and other courses I took in the program sparked an even stronger desire within me to follow a career path that is in direct alignment with my values.

What are you up to now?

I’m an advocate for Indigenous communities, the environment, women and other marginalized people. I’m working with a company on a total rebranding project following a merger and acquisition. I also plan to file a business license very soon. Wish me luck!

What advice would you give to prospective ISS students??

Try to overcome any feelings of self-doubt and embrace feelings of self-assurance. You can do this! I knew that ISS would empower me with new knowledge, but I didn’t realize that the course content would also invigorate within me a sense of urgency to integrate activism into my daily work.