Sondos Moursy - University of Houston
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Sondos Moursy

  • Degree: Psychology, B.S. ('22)
  • OURMA Programs: Houston Scholars, HERE, SURF, PURS, ARC
  • Major Awards and Fellowships: Phi Beta Kappa Key into Public Service Award, Rhodes' Finalist, Marshall-Motley Scholar

Current Pursuits

After graduation, I spent two months in my hometown of Alexandria, Egypt, to spend time with my family and disconnect from the work I had been doing nonstop for 3.5 years. When I got back, I did some of my law school interviews until I finalized that I would be attending Texas Law this upcoming Fall (class of ’26!). I have since been applying to major awards to fund law school and grow professionally while preparing myself for the academic rigor of 1L through lots of reading and writing.

Undergraduate Research Projects

My research journey started with ARC (Action Research in Communities). I wanted to study the parallels between slavery and mass incarceration to understand how the criminal justice system disproportionately targets and stifles positive outcomes in communities of color. This project was powerful because it let me take my research findings and build a community project based on them to alleviate one aspect of the injustice I studied. Combining my data-analysis research with interviewing women who experienced injustice during incarceration taught me the potential for action research and public service to reverse community inequities. My next project was SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship), and it was specifically focused on the reentry options for women in Texas and finding gaps I could fill. I also worked for the Houston Mayor’s Office that summer, so I had a unique opportunity to use my SURF findings in creating an employment pipeline program for women in reentry. Simultaneously, the Houston Scholars program was honing my professional development. I sharpened my resume, personal statements, and writing skills through Houston Scholars for later use in law school applications. I also collaborated on a project with a small team of researchers to alleviate the economic outcomes of communities of color. HERE (Houston Early Research Experience) taught me how to successfully approach and carry out different kinds of research while giving me a world view on inequities in all spheres of life. My HERE project, created in collaboration with my colleagues, focused on how non-renewable energy disproportionately harms communities of color and creating renewable alternatives to reverse the damage. My PURS (Provost Undergraduate Research Scholarship) project grew my reentry work by focusing on points of intervention in incarceration trajectories to decrease recidivism in Texas. Each project took a slightly different direction, but it all came together to give me a wealth of experience to build from as I continue to fight systemic inequities throughout my civil rights legal career.

Favorite Undergraduate Research Memory

Many wonderful memories marked my time with OURMA. One of my favorite ones was through SHARE (Stories in Health And ReEntry), the arts re-entry program I created to provide formerly incarcerated women with the emotional support they lacked in reentry. The creation of this program was an uphill battle between designing it, securing funding for it, and then showing up every week to Angela House, the reentry center, in hopes that the women would attend. However, what made me persevere to grow this initiative was that the women I worked with constantly expressed that it was the best part of their week. Over time, attendance and engagement began rising. When I started collecting the lived experiences of these women through oral histories, one of the women I interviewed said, “I didn’t want to do this at first. But everyone leaves these interviews so happy, so I thought I would give it a shot.” At that moment, I was reminded that these women have never been given a chance to tell their stories in a safe space. If I ever question the impact of my work, I go back to this day and remember that something as simple as holding space for someone to share their authentic experience can significantly support their healing.

What do you value most about your undergraduate research experience?

I value how it provided me with so many opportunities to research the intricacies of mass incarceration because that made me realize my calling was in civil rights law, a career that will allow me to reverse the effects of systemic injustice on communities of color. It’s crazy to think that what started as one summer of research led to the career I will practice for the rest of my life.

How did undergraduate research prepare you for what you are currently doing?

My current focus is law school. Undergraduate research entails endless reading, writing, data analysis, research presentations, writing proposals, applying for grants, interviewing subjects, and many more skills that are regularly used in law school and the legal profession. At the macro level, to grow my research, build reentry programs, etc., while being a full-time student-athlete, it took much perseverance to handle not only the academic rigor but also the many setbacks. Law school is not an easy feat, particularly the first year, but I am confident that my time management and wealth of research experience have prepared me to tackle the challenge of law school. On a micro level, through my mass incarceration research, I learned the details of criminal systemic injustice and reentry pathways. Not only has it paved for me a very powerful career trajectory, but it also allows me to voice the experiences of women of color in Texas in my law classes and add to the public interest sphere here at Texas Law.

Take advantage of every single opportunity available to you. Go to the events hosted by OURMA, talk to other faculty and students about your interests, and vigorously pursue what brings you purpose. I like to think of every single effort put towards my research, major award applications, and other OURMA pursuits as “money in the bank.” It might not seem too important in the moment, but when you graduate, you’ll cash out a big payment that will keep paying off throughout the rest of your life. For example, when I was applying to law school, I used the resume I wrote in Houston Scholars. The application I wrote for the Truman Scholarship didn’t win me it, but parts of it were used in the Phi Beta Kappa KIPS, Rhodes application, and law school applications, which were incredibly successful. Faculty can give you specific advice catered to your work, but I want everyone to know that you’d be surprised what doors open when you have the courage to knock.