The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Meet our Peer Mentors 2020-2021

We would like to introduce this year's Jefferson Scholar Mentors for 2019-2020. Our peer mentors are carefully selected upperclassmen that indicate an enthusiasm for the program and willingness to offer support and guidance to our incoming freshmen. However, if you are a continuing Jefferson Scholar please feel free to contact our mentors with questions or to participate in group activities. All Jefferson Scholars are welcome!

We have On Campus Mentors and Off Campus Mentors this year. Click Here for our Off Campus Mentors. 


ON CAMPUS MENTORS

The following mentors are taking classes on campus this semester, and will be available for one-on-one meetings outdoors and other small-scale meet-ups. 

 

Angelina Alanis

Angelina Alanis 

Angelina Alanis is a fourth-year in the Business Honors Program with a Minor in Arts and Entertainment Management. She is from Austin and would love to show someone around all of the best coffee shops and talk about music and traveling. So far her favorite class in the Jefferson Scholars Program has been the Bible and its Interpreters with, Dr. Yoo 

aangelinamari@gmail.com

 


Travis Atchley

 Travis Atchley

Travis is a third year Plan II and Economics major with a French Studies minor who has lived in Austin for every memorable year of his life. His interests include reading interesting books (suggestions both given or solicited are welcome), watching classic/weird movies, and outdoorsy stuff like hiking. You can most likely find him in one of the various coffee shops north of campus that he considers his home away from home. Jefferson Scholars has interested Travis from the start in both its breadth of content and the closeness of the community, which were shown to him by JSP’s professor lunches and lunchtime lectures especially. Travis will most likely be interested in what you say regardless of what it is, honestly, so do not be afraid to introduce yourself!

trav.atchley@gmail.com

 


Kira Azulay

Kira Azulay

Kira is a junior from Austin in the Liberal Arts Honors program and studying Russian. She's taken two JSP classes so far, ‘Classical Philosophy and Literature’ and ‘The Bible and Its Interpreters.’ She enjoys being a part of JSP because of the thought-provoking classes and opportunities to get to know faculty. Outside of JSP, her favorite class she's taken is 'Russian through Drama', where her class produced a Soviet-era play in Russian. When Kira's not in class, she likes playing soccer and going to concerts.

kirazulay@gmail.com

 


Jeffrey Baker

Jeffrey Baker

Jeffrey is a second year Business major and was born in Houston, Texas. He has a lot of experience internationally and with different cultures. He’s always had an interest in classic literature and found the Jefferson Scholars Program as a way to explore that. Jeffrey likes to spend his free time watching all different types of movies and his favourite is either Snakes on a Plane or Jurassic Park. He also enjoys staying up with certain television shows and has a passion for music. All of the professors and experiences he’s had so far in the program have been fantastic and I took the opportunity as a Peer Mentor to stay involved with the program.

jc17baker@gmail.com

 


James Bradbury

 James Bradbury

James is a sophomore pursuing majors in Biology and History and has lived in the beautiful city of Austin for more than ten years. James believes the Jefferson Scholars Program to be an essential part of the college experience. JSP allows students to share in the insight of some of history's most revolutionary thinkers, learn from some of the university's most brilliant—and eccentric—professors, and, most importantly, come a little closer to understanding what it means to live a good and fulfilling life. 

In his free time, James enjoys exploring Austin, playing chess (always ready for a game, rain or shine), working out at the gym, rock climbing, meeting and talking to new people, and reading or discussing a great book. He is excited to make new and lasting friendships, and help freshmen adjust to the exciting, bizarre, and—at times—overwhelming transition that is college life. He's always only an email away!

Caleb Brock

Caleb Brock

Caleb is a second year Government and Public Relations double major. He is from Denton, Texas. He is a new peer mentor and is excited to answer any and all questions sent his way, because he knows how confusing it is to start somewhere new. In his free time, he makes art, watches documentaries, listens to music, and strives to hold public officials accountable.  His documentary recommendations include: Paris is Burning, Knock Down the House, The Most Unknown, and Abstract: The Art of Design. His favorite artists are: Saâda Bonaire, Mac Miller, Channel Tres, Solange, and Operation Ivy.

calebwbrock@gmail.com

 


Alyssa Caver

Alyssa Caver

Alyssa is a second-year International Relations and Global Studies major from Houston, Texas.  So far, she has taken four JSP classes, and has loved each of them for their thought provoking conversation and for cultivating an environment where any idea is open for discussion. She especially loves the close community of the Jefferson Scholars program, forming bonds between faculty and students alike, and creating a place for students to belong inside such an incredibly large university. Alyssa’s interest in Core Texts formed somewhere in between her love of history and the theology classes at her small Catholic high school, and her JSP classes have been some of her favorites so far. Other than her involvement in JSP, Alyssa is involved in Model UN on and off campus, and in the International Affairs Society. She loves reading, theatre, meeting new people, political philosophy (which should be evident, given her involvement in JSP) and is always excited for a JSP event! Feel free to ask her about the Living Learning Community, really bad puns, how queso is proof that perfection exists, or anything else on your mind!

acaver@utexas.edu

 


Hayle Chen

Hayle Chen 

Hayle Chen is a second-year English and Government double major (and Spanish minor!) from the DFW area. A self-proclaimed nerd and intellectual, she has an intense love for reading, writing, thrifting, almond croissants, learning languages, and excessively listening to podcasts. Along with JSP, Hayle is involved in Liberal Arts Council, Students Expanding Austin Literacy (SEAL), and is the current editor-in-chief of The Liberator Magazine, the official publication of the College of Liberal Arts. She loves the Jefferson Scholars Program because it allows her to more deeply explore and contemplate her passion for politics and philosophy with some of the best and thought-provoking professors. Hayle is excited to be a peer mentor and can’t wait to introduce the incoming class to the wonders of JSP!

haylechen@utexas.edu

 


Mary Cid

 Mary Cid

Mary is double majoring in Government and European Thought and has lived in Austin for 13 years. Previous to her college education, Mary attended a liberal arts school where she read several of the Great Books. This education inspired her to pursue the study of Political Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to JSP events such as book clubs and movie nights, Mary enjoys good conversation, a hike in any of the Austin parks and reservoirs, a spontaneous opportunity to dance, and lots of running. Feel free to approach her with questions, puns and provocative statements. In turn she will respond with another question, another pun, and another provocative statement.

cid_mary@yahoo.com

 


Kelsi Cox

Kelsi Cox

Kelsi is a second-year Neuroscience and Philosophy major. She loves running, photography, dark chocolate and David Bowie, and in her free time, she volunteers as a research assistant for the Texas Twin Project and drinks far too much coffee for her own good. (Well, that last bit is just never not true.) During her time with the Jefferson Center, she has come to realize that the most compelling questions about the human experience cannot even be understood, much less answered, until one considers them in light of the natural manifestations of that experience. She has found that closely reading and discussing the core texts enable one to do just that, and she hopes to show incoming Jefferson students that the pursuit of these texts and the questions which they raise can completely reshape their understanding of the human condition and, ultimately, of themselves.

Oh, and do ask her about the Jefferson Book Club!

kelsicox1313@gmail.com

 


Ramiro De Los Santos

Ramiro De Los Santos

Ramiro is a second-year Journalism and European Studies double-major in the Liberal Arts Honors and Moody Honors programs, pursuing a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Outside of class, he is a volunteer for Students Expanding Austin Literacy and an editor-at-large at The Texas Orator. After college, he hopes to use his Journalism skills and Philosophy knowledge to make sense of the world through the written word. Talking to him, you might notice he mentions Grimes, David Lynch, and Jean-Paul Sartre a little too often, but you can rely on the fact that he will always be prepared to hand out TV, film, music, or book suggestions at the drop of a hat. He’s excited to help incoming Jefferson Scholars navigate the crazy world of Core Texts, so feel free to contact him with any questions.  


Livia Frost

Livia Frost

Livia is a second year public health major with a concentration in infectious disease and microbiology. She loves the Jefferson Scholars program because it allows her to explore philosophy and major ideas with fantastic, dedicated professors. She especially recommends the book club and lunchtime lectures! Livia is also co-president of the student chapter of Doctors Without Borders and does research with Professor Wolesensky. She loves to travel and learn, and is excited to help students understand and explore JSP and UT.  

liviafrost416@utexas.edu

 


Audrey Isaak

 Audrey Isaak

Audrey Isaak is a sophomore chemistry major. She is involved with Texas Unicef and the Texas Orator. She is excited to be a peer mentor as she had amazing peer mentors her freshman year! Ask her about the Living and Learning Community!

audreyisaak1@gmail.com

 


Eva Kahn

Eva Kahn

A native New Yorker, Eva moved to Austin 2 years ago to dance professionally.  She came to realize that life as a professional artist was not as fulfilling as she had hoped, and is now a full-time Longhorn and part-time scoop at Amy’s Ice Creams.  The goal of her college career is to learn as much as she can about the world so as to best navigate it and perhaps even change it.  That is why she still hasn’t chosen a major.  Eva’s writing has been published in The Texas Orator, ECHO Literary Magazine, and the New York Times.  She loves people and wants to meet YOU, so please reach out to her for any reason and no reason, especially if you would like to go swing dancing, take a walk or a bike ride, attend any performance (especially local Austin music), have an argument, or just schmooze.  

evakahn@utexas.edu

 


David Koeller

David Koeller

David is a junior from Austin studying Chemical Engineering and Plan II. Outside of classes, he mentors high school students at the KIPP school. He also enjoys rock climbing and ultimate frisbee and is currently taking improv and photography lessons. His favorite JSP class has been “The Bible and its Interpreters” with Dr. Yoo. David joined the JSP program because of its smaller community and opportunities for engagement with core texts inside and outside of the classroom. He hopes to help incoming freshman make the most of their college experience and their opportunities on campus.

david1koeller@gmail.com

 


Madison Kyle

Madison Kyle

Madison Kyle is a third-year chemical engineering major from the DFW area. She loves JSP for the diversity of thought and opportunities to explore cultural events around Austin. In her free time, she enjoys reading (especially sci-fi and fantasy!), discovering new bookstores, and finding new places to eat. Madison cannot wait to be a peer mentor this year and looks forward to meeting the new incoming Jefferson Scholars.


An Le

An Le

An is a second year Psychology (BA) and Business double major with an Entrepreneurship minor. She enjoys reading, making playlists on Spotify, and exploring thrift shops (there are so many great ones in Austin). Her favorite JSP course thus far is “Constitutional Principles: Core Texts” with Dr. Dempsey. She joined JSP because of its opportunities to meet fascinating people, study core texts and ideas, and engage in friendly, provocative conversations. An is super excited to meeting the incoming Jefferson Scholars, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and introduce yourself!

anle531@yahoo.com

 


Dylan McKibban

Dylan McKibban

Dylan McKibban is a fourth-year in the Liberal Arts Honors program studying Classical Languages and Ancient History. His main academic interests currently are Homeric and Hellenistic poetry, the portrayal and performance of gender in said poetry, and the expansion of public scholarship. He has taken several classes in the Jefferson Scholars Program, with his favorite being the Justice, Liberty, and Happiness UGS course with Professor Viroli. Outside of JSP and Classics, he spends his free time weaving, writing poetry, and trying to figure out how to start a D&D campaign for his friends.

dylanm23r@gmail.com

 


Ryan McSweeny

Ryan McSweeny

Ryan is a second year Electrical & Computer Engineering major specializing in Computer Architecture and Embedded Systems. He is from Plano and lived in the JSP LLC his freshman year. He wants to help first year students with the transition to college. His hobbies include video games, music, tech projects, and skateboarding.

mcsweeney2716@yahoo.com

 


Justin Monroe

Justin Bindel

Justin is a senior studying Government and the Philosophy of Law. The University of Texas is his third University he has attended and is proud to call it his final venture in his undergraduate career. From St. Edward’s to Seattle University to UT, Justin has never been involved with a more familial, diligent, and engaging organization than the Jefferson Scholars. Outside of his studies, Justin is the co-founder of a small community theatre company that creates and directs their own original work. When he’s not staring off into space, imagining worlds or connecting universal themes, you can find him in the Scholars’ Lounge chatting it up with Dr. Dempsey, reading, or creating (with the assistance of the enticing Scholarly coffee of course). Justin (both a Targaryen and Ravenclaw) would love to introduce you to the colorful side of Austin with theatre performances, operas, and art exhibits. If that’s not enough to satisfy your hungry mind, then let’s dive into thought-provoking and abstract discussions up in the Lounge!

jmmonroe@utexas.edu

 


Ava Norman

Ava Norman

Ava is a second-year student from Austin, Texas. She studies Latin and Attic Greek for her Classical Languages major in addition to her Jefferson Scholars courses. She enjoys studying government and plans to attend law school after graduation. Prior to attending UT, Ava cultivated her love of great books at a classical, liberal arts high school. She would love to talk about any of the courses she’s taken or books she’s read over a cup of coffee. When she’s not in class or a cafe, Ava enjoys attending the JSP book club, exploring museums, and traveling. Ava would love to show you some of her favorite coffee spots around Austin (or take recommendations if you have them!) and hopes to help incoming students get connected to the JSP community.

avanoelle211@gmail.com

 


Stephanie Pickrell

 Stephanie Pickrell

Stephanie is a second-year English major in the LAH program, also pursuing the Creative Writing certificate and a French studies minor. She’s an absolute nerd for fantasy and science fiction and is always available to give enthusiastic reading recommendations. She also works at the University Writing Center and is an active member of Foot in the Door Theatre Troupe. 

smpickrell@att.net

 


Brooke Reaves

 Brooke Reaves

Brooke Reaves is a Business Honors, Plan II Honors and Economics senior from Victoria, Texas. She's really looking forward to being a peer mentor because her own was an instrumental figure in easing her transition to UT and the JSP program, and also just being a great person to have conversations with, challenge her, and encourage her. Brooke is really excited to help y'all succeed in a program she adores and on the campus of a university she loves. 

In her free time, she's the editor in chief of a nonpartisan political review here at UT, The Texas Orator (which you should join!!!). She also tutors and leads a creative writing club at KIPP Austin high school. Some of her favorite books include Harry Potter (She's a diehard fan & Gryffindor), Anna Karenina, and Ruined. As a peer mentor, it will be her critical duty to supply you with endless cat encouragement pictures/puns, funky memes, and political jokes, and to sit down for caffeinated beverages to discuss political philosophy, books, tv shows (Game of Thrones!!), her distaste for Socrates, and just Life at UT!  She intends to pursue a career at the intersection of development economics and social entrepreneurship.

reaveslindee@yahoo.com

 


Zachary Rickmeyer

Zachary Rickmeyer

Zachary Rickmeyer is a third year Mechanical Engineering major from Southern California. He enjoys being a part of JSP because it provides a welcome distraction from all the technical courses in engineering. His favorite JSP events are the lunchtime seminars and attending plays and concerts. Outside the classroom, Zachary is active with the Longhorn Pep Band where he plays saxophone, Longhorn Racing Combustion Team, and The University of Texas Weightlifting Team. Zachary is an avid reader (his favorite books are fantasy). He loves playing music, working out, and being outdoors. Zachary is excited to be a peer mentor this year and looks forward to meeting the many new Jefferson Scholars.

zrickmeyer@gmail.com

 


Kevin Sheth

Kevin Sheth 

Kevin is a second year student in Neuroscience and Geography (will be declared in Fall 2020). He loves JSP because it gives him a new perspective on critical scientific issues. It also gives him a new view of issues relating to our government and politics. Outside of JSP, Kevin is a pre-med student, and he loves to row, run, and cook. Kevin is also a weather enthusiast and coffee lover. He is excited to help guide freshmen through JSP!

kevinsheth2000@gmail.com

 


David Ventura

David Ventura

David is a second-year Computational Engineer major from Laredo, Texas. He was born and raised in Mexico and moved to Laredo in 2015. Ever since he was 12 years old, he has enjoyed reading and learning more about different cultures or time-periods through contemporary texts, so he joined the Jefferson Scholars Program to continue this throughout college. David is a new peer mentor and is excited to meet the new Jefferson Scholars and help them in any way possible. So far, he has taken two JSP classes and enjoyed the entirety of the classes. David enjoys being a part of the JSP because it offers a thought-provoking curriculum and allows him to continue his passion for reading while also being a STEM major. In his free time, David enjoys watching new series, playing the violin, and spending time with his friends. He is thrilled for this upcoming school year and cannot wait to meet the new Jefferson Scholars.

davidventuradiaz@icloud.com

 


Fox Walker

Fox Walker

Fox is a third year from Fort Worth studying Government and Arabic with the Liberal Arts Honors and Humanities Honors programs. He loves the Jefferson Scholars Program because it allows him to think about politics from a historical viewpoint. Fox loves the lunchtime lectures and can often be found studying at the JSP Lounge in Wagner. Fox is the Student Government Co-Director of City Relations and the Vice President of Texas Beta Theta Pi. He is interested in American history, art history, and politics. Fox is excited to show freshmen a fun time in Austin and to meet new philosophy friends! 

foxwalker1999@gmail.com

 



OFF CAMPUS MENTORS

The following mentors are doing their classes online this semester, but would be happy to talk to freshmen over Zoom about their classes and experiences. 

 

Caroline Chessher

Caroline Chessher

Caroline is a Biology major in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior track from Beaumont, Texas. In addition to CTI, she plans to pursue a minor in Anthropology. Although she enjoys the science classes that make her a better naturalist, JSP classes spanning from topics of government to ethics are equally important in her college endeavors and otherwise. Her favorite JSP events include lunchtime lectures and weekend trips to plays or movies. In her free time, she is an avid reader of fiction, watcher of sci-fi movies, and gardener of plants. You may find her at the Biodiversity lab, KVRX radio station, or the UT Microfarm. She is very excited to make more friends in JSP and share experiences with new members!

cchessher88@gmail.com

 


Sriharika Kollipara

Harika Kollipara

Harika Kollipara is a second-year International Relations and Global Studies major from Dallas.   She adores the JSP community and loves partaking in its events and discussions. Harika is also in UT’s Concert Chorale as well as a few other organizations on campus. She enjoys listening to music, attending theater performances, and binge watching TV shows. She also  likes to talk so feel free to ask her any questions or strike up a conversation!

shkollipara@utexas.edu

 


Dylan McKibban

Dylan McKibban

Dylan McKibban is a fourth-year in the Liberal Arts Honors program studying Classical Languages and Ancient History. His main academic interests currently are Homeric and Hellenistic poetry, the portrayal and performance of gender in said poetry, and the expansion of public scholarship. He has taken several classes in the Jefferson Scholars Program, with his favorite being the Justice, Liberty, and Happiness UGS course with Professor Viroli. Outside of JSP and Classics, he spends his free time weaving, writing poetry, and trying to figure out how to start a D&D campaign for his friends.

dylanm23r@gmail.com

 


Melanie Milligan

Melanie Milligan

Melanie is a second-year Business Major major from Plano, Texas, with additional coursework in Statistics. She began taking JSP classes with an eagerness to read the brilliant works of others and use the knowledge gained from doing so to improve her writing. Now, Melanie understands that there is so much more to reading the Great Books (so let her know if you'd like to hear more than an obnoxiously vague statement about this). Melanie loves long conversations, asking questions, playing the flute, and most importantly, cold brew coffee. Please feel free to reach out to her if you have any questions, would like to find ways to get involved on campus, or just want a silent reading buddy!  

melanie.milligan.tx@gmail.com

 


Ronak Ramachandran

Ronak Ramachandran

Ronak Ramachandran is a second-year Turing Scholar and math major. He loves anything that twists his mind, from Peter Winkler's puzzles to absurdist plays. After graduating, he wants to do research in quantum computing to hopefully understand the universe at a more fundamental level. His favorite part of JSP is how everyone will drop everything at any time to cook some ratatouille or discuss deep questions for hours on end. The friends, events, and conversations he’s found through the program have been some of the best he’s ever had. He’s going to miss them when his research inevitably crashes the simulation. Before UT, Ronak lived in New Jersey, so if you're an out-of-state student, feel free to reach out for tips and tricks! Here’s one for free: instead of “y’all,” Texans are now saying “you fries”—try it when you first come to campus!

ronakr@utexas.edu

 


Courtney Thomas

Courtney Thomas

Courtney Thomas is a sophomore majoring in Humanities (European Narrative Art) and Theatre and Dance (Stage Management). In addition to CTI, she is working on her Museum Studies Certificate. Courtney is originally from Dallas, but loves living in Austin. She is a contributor to the Texas Orator. She loves film noir movies, finding old documents in the HRC and checking out new coffee shops. She's always excited to go to new art exhibits, theatre and dance shows. Courtney is very grateful to be part of an intellectual community like JSP and she wants to hear everyone's book recommendations.

courtney@thomasfam.com

 


FIG MENTOR

Sydney Smith

 Sydney Smith

Sydney is a third year studying Psychology and Government. She attended the RILA study abroad through Jefferson Scholars last summer and loved it (so ask her about it)! Her favorite JSP classes at UT were Classics of Social and Political Thought with Dr. Dempsey and Constitutional Principles with Dr. Tulis. Outside of JSP, she is involved with Alpha Chi Omega and pre-med classes. Her enneagram is 2w3, she loves Texas football, and can show you cool coffee shops close to campus! Sydney has enjoyed her time in JSP immensely and can’t wait to share that with incoming freshmen. 

sydneysmith99@yahoo.com

 


LLC RA

Sara Greenman-Spear

Sara Greenman-Spear

Sara is a third year History and Spanish major from outside of Dallas. She will be the RA for the Jefferson Scholars Living Learning Community this year and looks forward to meeting new students in the program and helping them as they start college. As a history major, she decided to join Jefferson Scholars as a way to learn more about different ideas throughout the past. She has also always loved reading, another important aspect of the program that drew her to it. She has taken and enjoyed many JSP classes but her favorites have been those on Ancient texts like Ancient Greece, a period of history she enjoys in general. In her free time, she enjoys music, dance, and baking whenever she actually has a kitchen. She also loves animals and volunteers with groups at shelters, events, etc. She cannot wait to meet the new JSP members.

sgreenmanspear@utexas.edu

 


 


 

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