Plan II/Business Honors
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Plan II/Communication & Leadership/ African & African Diaspora Studies
It’s so hard to believe that I’m starting my senior year! It feels like just yesterday I was moving into my freshman year dorm, getting accepted into Dedman, joining student organizations—getting my bearings on all the things that have defined my college experience. However, as I reflect on this past, immensely difficult, year I’ve realized how even in an almost completely virtual environment, it has still been transformational.
I went into the year learning to navigate the new classroom and social spaces of the pandemic. Sometimes the material was exciting, and sometimes it felt like I was just floating through it, but it was comforting to be surrounded by people all on the same boat (or rather seeing their faces in tiny rectangles on my screen). The first semester put a new spin on old endeavors while also bringing experiences that were altogether new. I took the capstone class in Communication & Leadership, completing a semester-long project with people I had only met on Zoom!
I also began my first official year as president of the Black Honors Student Association. After spending the summer working with other organizations like the Association of Black Psychologists and the Black Presidents’ Leadership Council, we were ready to redefine our role on campus. We hosted a workshop for freshmen students at the virtual New Black Student Weekend and increased our engagement across campus. Our usual in-person socials became Kahoots, Among Us, guest speakers, and games. We expanded our executive board, found ways to send gifts and prizes to members, and used our creativity to still give a family feel in an online space. Many of us also found time to volunteer at “Intro to Black UT” events where we talked to prospective and admitted students about life at UT and transitioning to college. These were always wonderful and gratifying experiences, and I’m so excited to be a lead facilitator for these events in the coming school year!
Additionally, I worked for Every Texan as one of the first Higher Education Policy Fellows. I was so excited to learn more about the ways policy defines and shapes educational spaces. In this fellowship we utilized a social justice framework to research and advocate for policy priorities in the Texas legislature. Focusing on education equity at the broad level gave me even more passion for working with individual students. I joined UT’s first chapter of You Can Too, an organization that focuses on empowering Black and Brown students. As a You Can Too mentor, I spent the year helping my mentee, a senior in high school from Georgia, work on her college applications and finish up her senior year. We also had a curriculum on social justice, and talked about issues such as colorism, voting rights, and mental health. I’m so proud that my mentee will be attending college in the fall, and I know she is going to thrive!
In the same realm of education, I also got to work as an Undergraduate Learning Assistant in the Spring semester. After being a Plan II peer mentor in the fall, I was super excited to continue working with students and cultivate my skills in dialogue facilitation, lesson-planning, and communication. I was an assistant for Seminar in Communication & Leadership, taught by one of my favorite professors and Mellon Mays thesis mentor, Dr. Minette Drumwright. Working with her along with the TA, the ULA facilitators, and the rest of the ULA cohort was such an amazing experience. I fell right back into the course material, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the course from the side of the teaching team. This work really solidified my interest in both higher education and communication studies. Both of these fall in line with my thesis work that I formally started in the first semester of the thesis course. My project focuses on student activist efforts, particularly the solidarity statements relating to the Black Lives Matter movement in summer 2020. Working with Dr. Drumwright along with my advisors, Dr. Cassandre Alvarado and Dr. Suchitra Gururaj, has been wonderful as I develop my ideas. This project has proved to be the perfect combination of my work in communication and liberal arts, while melding my newly added Black Studies major and English minor. I’m super excited to continue this project into the next semester.
On top of everything else, one of the biggest highlights of my year was being initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. I was so honored and excited to follow in the footsteps of so many incredible women, including my mother and grandmother, as a member of this sisterhood.
Looking back, I have changed and grown so much in the past year, even when it felt like the world was standing still. I passed off one of my biggest initiatives and passion projects, the Plan II Student Association Diversity Committee to a new duo of coordinators to take over next year. At the same time, I got to be a part of so many new projects, work with amazing people, and find a new passion for my endeavors inside and outside the classroom. As each semester, in person or online, proves to bring more and more challenges, adventures, and opportunities for learning, it’s hard to anticipate what my last year on campus will bring. However, I’m grateful to know I will have the Dedman community alongside me. Face-timing into cohort meetings, masked and distanced run-ins in the office, and making it to the program-wide Zooms every once in a while has kept me grounded this past year. While I’m hoping for a year that looks more “normal,” I’m glad to know that I have this space and these incredible people beside me no matter the circumstances.
Plan II/International Relations & Global Studies
The last year has been a challenging experience for me (and for everyone else of course!) There were many moments of burnout, loneliness, and grieving the college experience I had envisioned. However, in equal measure, I was able to lean on my Dedman community for support. I found myself becoming closer friends with fellow scholars and spending casual movie nights with my cohort. I enjoyed the chance to relax and take long walks during our bi-weekly Dedman video calls. The point being, this year has given me a healthier work/life balance than ever, and I am excited to continue this dynamic in my final year.
Academically, I settled into my interests a bit more during my Junior year. I shifted my focus especially toward my language classes, and finished my French minor. Unfortunately, my study abroad plans were once again rescheduled due to continued coronavirus outbreaks. Now, I plan to spend Fall 2022 in Paris, taking language courses and interning with a nonprofit. After this trip, I will officially be a Texas Ex. While this is bittersweet, I am happy for the chance to break out of my bubble and see the broader world again, thanks to the support of the Dedman family.
Another important aspect of my year was my role as a Plan II peer mentor. Spending time developing community with my two cohorts of freshmen gave me a purpose, and made me feel connected to campus despite being at home in Dallas. In the fall, I acted as a discussion facilitator for their one hour course. In the spring, I was able to develop my own affinity group. I chose the topic of “LGB-TV,” discussing queer media representation and issues with my pod. I am happy to say I will be continuing this position in the fall, this time in person!
Finally, in terms of experiential learning, I continued to research statelessness and citizenship documentation with Dr. Wendy Hunter. This project has been fascinating to follow over the past year and a half, and I look forward to witnessing the book-writing process firsthand this fall. In summer 2021, I am interning with a nonprofit called AsylumConnect. As a part of their Canada team, I focus on researching and verifying that social services organizations are safe and accessible to LGBTQ+ asylum speakers. An added bonus is that I get to use my French when I work with organizations in Québec! I have enjoyed seeing more of the nonprofit sector and learning about the innovative ways people are addressing current social issues.
It is a breath of fresh air to finally see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. While I have appreciated the chance to self-reflect this year, I can’t wait to see my fellow scholars in the fall. As always, I am extremely grateful to the Dedman family for giving me the chance to be a part of this amazing group and the flexibility to explore my interests authentically.
Liberal Arts Honors/International Relations & Government
This past year was difficult and exhausting to live through — and also to work and study through. The COVID-19 pandemic’s side effect of an abundance of alone time gave me the chance to reflect and become more comfortable in my skin. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to connect and learn with people despite a difficult virtual year. I hope that my senior year will provide the courage and opportunities for me to learn more about myself and forge a path towards law school!
I grew as a scholar and person in the Normandy Scholars Program, Brumley NextGen Scholars Program, and in my position as a Writing Fellow with Liberal Arts Honors this past year. Although I was unable to visit WWII sites in Europe with the NSP, and unable to go on my planned 2021 Maymester in Security & Society in Poland, I learned a lot about policy research and made strong, lasting friendships along the way! I plan to build on these experiences while writing my thesis during my senior year, which will likely be a comparative deep dive into American vs. European electoral systems and investigating instances of voter fraud and suppression.
Registering and educating voters as President of TX Votes opened my eyes to what I truly want: a career in public service, giving my life meaning by helping people. Creating partnerships, organizing for maximum youth voter turnout, and having one-on-one conversations with Texas voters opened my eyes to how much the past three years of voter engagement work has meant to me. I am deeply passionate about voting rights and hope to become a Voting Rights Attorney for a nonprofit organization in the future. I want to spend my time protecting the rights of voters in the South, particularly in my home state of Texas. I also plan to work with my hometown’s school district, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, to implement a district-wide high school voter registration and education system that effectively educates students on the electoral process and registers them to vote in a timely manner.
I am going to Washington, D.C. for the fall semester of my senior year (2021) for the Archer Fellowship with the UT System. I am honored to have the chance to live, learn, and intern in D.C. and plan to intern with a voting or civil rights-centric nonprofit organization. I’m thrilled to go live in such a lively city and am excited for the many historic memorials and museums I’ll get to explore! While in D.C., I’ll continue my work with First-Gen Longhorns as a Transition & Success Coach, serving as a resource for incoming and continuing first-generation college students at UT Austin. I greatly enjoyed planning and helping run the First-Generation Graduation this past Spring and am thrilled to do so again this year!
This scholarship has provided me opportunities I could previously only dream of. Thanks to the Dedman family, law school is not a far-off dream, but something I can reach for in earnest. Thanks to the Dedman family’s generosity, I have the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., study abroad my final summer at UT Austin, and take an additional semester to finish out my degree requirements. I will graduate December 2022 with BAs in International Relations & Global Studies and in Government. I will begin applying for law schools the fall of 2022, take a few months to spend with family and to work/save up, and then begin my time as a 1L in fall 2023 (potentially at UT Law!).
Thank you to the Dedman family for your continuous support and encouragement – you’ve made my time on the Forty Acres incredible, and I’ve reached heights I never thought I could! Thank you to the Dedman Scholars community for all the love, laughs, and advice! Hook ‘Em Horns!