Frances Garnett

Liberal Arts Honors/International Relations & Global Studies
Fine Arts/Theater & Dance

Despite the challenges that my junior year brought, I’m proud that I spent this past year revisiting my old passions. As always, I’m incredibly grateful for the Dedman community. I honestly can’t thank them enough for being like a wonderful, encouraging family to me.

In the fall of 2019, I taught mime and mask workshops to my peers and high-schoolers at a regional theater conference. I studied mime in high school (which might be the nerdiest thing about me) and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I also revisited my passion for singing. I get horrible stage fright, but I faced my fear by performing in the theater department’s production of Spring Awakening and in a masterclass in New York City for a casting director. Academically, I found out that I love anthropology when I took a class with my Dedman mentor, Dr. Amy Weinreb; and I brushed up on my French and explored how second-language speakers can create an authentic identity in a new language. I even found a unique acting gig through the Dell Medical School as a standardized patient, where I help nursing and medical students practice their diagnostic and interpersonal care skills.

Studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium, the spring of 2020 was a dream come true. I wanted to go somewhere I knew nothing about and where I could speak French. Through the Institute for Field Education, I was fully immersed in French, and I learned about the history, politics, and arts of Belgium (and that Belgian fries are superior to all others). I interned at a local theater company, Les Riches Claires, where I discovered that theater people there are just as bubbly and welcoming as in the US. Although it was difficult to keep up in a fully-French work environment, it was just what I needed to push myself further toward bilingualism. Although my time in Brussels was cut short, I was able to continue my studies remotely by writing a capstone paper about the representation of gender violence in contemporary Belgian theater – all in French, which was incredibly difficult, but I’m proud that I got through it! I documented my time there as a Global Ambassador social media representative and blogger for UT, and I loved being able to share my love for Brussels and reflect on what study abroad meant to me.

This summer, I’m so thankful that my family and I are all healthy and I can use this time in quarantine to continue working on my language and artistic skills. I volunteer at Casa Marianella, an organization in East Austin that helps displaced immigrants, where I use my French to help residents apply for jobs and navigate medical appointments. As part of my plan to become a more self-driven artist, I’m taking a screenwriting class through the RTF department where I’m writing a TV show “bible” and pilot episode. I’m also learning about artistic development and fundraising as a member of the executive committee for the 2021 Cohen New Works Festival, where we just distributed grants to students for summer research and development of their projects. Although my senior year won’t look anything like I expected, I know the Dedman community will serve as my rock as I navigate what it means to be an artist and scholar in a social distanced world.

As I reflect back on the 2019-2020 academic year, I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunities and support, both financial and otherwise, that the Dedman Scholars Program has provided. DDSP has given me the financial freedom to research, travel, and be highly involved at UT. It has also introduced me to some of my closest friends. The weekly meetings have supported me through my highs and my lows, encouraging me to be not just the best scholar, but the best person, I can be. I look forward to another year spent with the Dedman community, regardless of the shape it will take next fall.