Sienna Dugan was born and raised in Malibu, California. She is a senior at SMU studying Health and Society and frequently travels abroad to provide health care for children. Sienna also helped build the global development lab at the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity where she is a research analyst at the age of 21.
TL: Why do you do what you do?
SD: When I was in 2nd grade, an organization came to my school and asked for host families. We hosted a 2-year-old little girl who needed open heart surgery and then hosted 15 more times. Eventually, the organization figured out it’s cheaper to bring medical care to the areas in need, so I decided to go with them to Ethiopia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and China.
I have a class with my boss, Corrie Harris, and after she heard about my experiences in international development, she asked if I would be interested in helping her develop the global development lab at the hunt institute for engineering and humanity. I was so excited about this opportunity and of course, said yes. It was a lot of trial and error at first, but we accepted our first global development lab projects almost a year ago now and are very happy with the progress we have made!
TL: How do you balance your work and school life?
SD: Since I do travel a lot, I like to be present wherever I am and focus on whatever I am doing at that given moment.
TL: Describe your personal style.
SD: I guess growing up in Malibu, we would go thrift shopping a lot, so I like to wear clothes from thrift shops. I’m also a big fan of anything with sparkles.
TL: What inspired you to do what you do?
SD: Mending kids has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and so I was lucky enough to find what I loved when I was super young, so it has always been a part of my life.
TL: Describe your journey.
SD: Through my experiences, it has led me to study public health at SMU, where I can promote equal access to health care at the population level. My work at the Hunt Institute has allowed me to conduct research to develop a portable point of care device and has solidified my want to work in international health care.
TL: The biggest challenge you have faced?
SD: There’s a lot of organizations that want to do good, but actually finding them and connecting with them can be difficult, especially if they are overseas. This isn’t a path that many people decide to take since it doesn’t pay well, and you don’t get to spend a lot of time with your family and friends since you travel so much. Finding the balance to help the most people while also living my life can be a bit of a challenge.
TL: How is SMU preparing you for graduation?
SD: Aside from the degree that I am getting, SMU has given me many opportunities to work with amazing professors and providing me with connections to professionals in my line of study abroad.
TL: What advice do you have for first-year students?
SD: There are so many extracurricular activities for you to get involved in. The earlier the better, find out what you love so you can spend time doing it.
TL: What are your plans for after graduation?
SD: I’m not really sure, but I think I want to join the Peace Corps in Southeast Asia and then get my master’s in public health.
TL: What is your uniform?
SD: Anything as long as I have a fun pair of shoes on!
TL: Why SMU?
SD: My mom went to school here and made amazing friendships, and even though that’s what she wanted me to get out of it, I was also excited to be connected to a school with such a strong alumni network.
TL: Favorite SMU activity?
SD: I would have said the Boulevard, but I guess now I can say the football games.
TL: Early bird or night owl?
SD: Night owl for sure.
TL: What would be your last meal?
TL: Favorite dessert?
SD: Nerd ropes.
TL: What is your greatest achievement?
SD: Leading a surgical team to China, where we provided life-saving surgical care for 16 orphans.
TL: Describe yourself in three words.
SD: Adventurous, caring, and creative.
TL: What is your theme song?
SD: I really like old music so, Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest.
TL: Who is your celebrity crush?
SD: Ryan Reynolds.
TL: What is your guilty pleasure?
SD: Red wine.
TL: Who would play you in the movie of your life?
SD: Everyone always says I look like Mandy Moore, so I guess her.
TL: Favorite study or hideaway spot on Campus?
SD: Obviously the Hunt Institute.
TL: Best building on Campus?
SD: Dallas Hall.
TL: What is your Starbucks order?
SD: A grande cold brew.
TL: What is your superpower?
SD: Being selfless.
TL: What would you do with the money if you won the lottery?
SD: Build an orphanage in China or maybe Thailand.
TL: What makes you tick?
SD: When someone tells me I can’t do something.
TL: What word do you use the most?