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Liberal Arts Honors

Dedman Distinguished Scholars

For the 2019-2020 academic year, the Dedman Distinguished Scholars Program welcomes ten new scholars: six incoming freshmen, who comprise the next Conviction Cohort, and four UT sophomores, who form the Courage Cohort. The sixteen returning scholars include six sophomores of the Humility Cohort, four juniors of the Sacrifice Cohort, four juniors of the Integrity Cohort, and five seniors in the Compassion Cohort

Below, the returning scholars describe their experiences at UT in the past academic year, including their academic interests and research, internships, community service work, study abroad experiences, and their future plans for the summer and beyond (as of July 2019).


New Freshman Cohort: Conviction

Avi Ackermann
Pooja Enagala
Ingrid Pina
Sophie Ryland
Marisa Tiscareno
Bronson Zhou
Avi Ackermann
Plan II/Linguistics

I am a recent graduate of Plano West Senior High, where I was most heavily involved in Quizbowl, winning the national championship during my junior year. Much of my activity was outside of school: I practiced martial arts, tried to teach myself Japanese, and occasionally made up languages. At UT, I will be in constant, slack-jawed disbelief as I take classes at one of the world’s most distinguished centers of Mesoamerican studies, learn the basics of Tuvan, and major in Linguistics and Plan II.


Pooja Enagala
Plan II/Biochemistry

As an Austin native, my favorite thing about staying at UT will be exploring new areas with the city's distinctive 'keep Austin weird' mien; I think I've already exhausted all the swimming holes, parks, and food trucks within a 20 mile radius of my house this summer. I graduated from Westwood High School, where I became passionate about my involvement in choir, debate, and science (except physics). One of my best club memories involved advocating for increased funding for career and technical education to senators at Capitol Hill as a SkillsUSA member. I hope to find a platform to effect tangible social change throughout college as well.

Beyond the boundaries of high school, I enjoy anything rooted in the fine arts. I've spent a satisfying amount of my summer singing, drawing, painting, knitting, playing ukulele, attempting to learn how to sew, and dancing. Two years ago, I performed a three hour Indian classical dance (Bharatanatyam) debut known as an Arangetram. That was preceded by 10 years of dance experience and a year of sweat, blood, tears, and physical therapy (my bad knee: 0, me: 1). Since then, I've taught dance classes to adorable but inattentive second graders, co-directed an Indianized Alice in Wonderland, and co-founded a Bharatanatyam makeup company with one of my best friends. Despite growing up in America, Bharatanatyam has anchored me to my culture.

Last summer, I hosted and choreographed a dance performance to raise money to supply sanitary products and menstrual health education resources in Tamaraipakkam. I visited this Indian village the winter prior on a service visit. I noticed that stigmaaround menstruation impeded local women from having greater political representation and lessened the validity of women in the workforce. I am looking forward to expanding on this menstrual health awareness project and adapting my passion for dance to as many of my interests as I can. Dance's ubiquity in my life is a blessing for my soul and a pain in my knees. I also plan to join one of UT's many Indian dance teams.

I Plan II (pun intended) eventually pursue a career in medicine. At UT I will major in Plan II and Biochemistry, and am immensely excited to nurture my literary sophistication (right now my favorite book is Harry Potter) and explore the sciences (though I'm only moderately excited for physics). I'm so grateful for the opportunity the Dedman family has afforded me to pursue my passions, and pumped to be initiated into a program with such kind and passionate students. Hook 'em!

Ingrid Pina
Liberal Arts Honors/International Relations & Global Studies

I graduated from Kingwood High School in May of 2018, where I loved choir, student government, and speech. I then lived in Taiwan for 10 months, studying Chinese (Mandarin) on a NSLI-Y scholarship, where I loved beatbox/acapella club, filming video blogs, and drinking tea with my classmates. I am so excited to finally start at UT Austin, in Liberal Arts Honors studying International Relations and Global Studies. I look forward to Dedman dinners and meeting new friends!


Sophie Ryland
Plan II/Journalism

 

 

 

 

Marisa Tiscareno
Plan II/Business Honors

I went to Highland Park High School in Dallas and was captain of the rowing team, played violin in the school orchestra, served as a school ambassador to give tours and welcome new families, and helped found a chapter of She’s the First, an organization that raises money for girls’ education. At UT, I will be in both Plan II and the Canfield Business Honors Program. I’m looking forward to volunteering with the Plan II/KIPP partnership, studying abroad, going to football games, and of course being part of the Dedman family.


Bronson Zhou
Plan II/Neuroscience

I went to Grapevine High School in Grapevine, Texas. I was president of my school’s Mu Alpha Theta chapter, as well as the College Board Standardized Test Prep Organization and the Advanced Touch Systems Data Entry Club (longer name, longer story). Outside of school, I served as a youth counselor at the Dallas Chinese Youth Camp and as an after-school volunteer for at-risk children in my community. I am currently a Plan II student and a Dean’s Scholar studying neuroscience. I’m excited for night’s spent studying/stressing with my friends and all the food Austin has to offer!


New Sophomore Cohort: Courage

Deepti Aravapalli
Brynna Boyd
Hailey Hollowell
Janae Steggall
Deepti Aravapalli
Plan II/Business

Rather than an exercise in growing up, my Freshman year was about learning to grow into myself. I arrived at UT last August as bright eyed as I was anxious about what the forty acres had in store for me, and what I found was more than I could have ever imagined. Not only did I make friends who push me to be better, but I also found myself thriving, diving into every opportunity, and surfacing surprised that I did not sink, but swam.

I quickly found a home within two organizations at UT, though they are quite different. The first is the University Securities Investment Team (or USIT), one of the largest finance organizations on campus. I’ll admit that I was initially apprehensive about joining USIT, because finance was something out of my comfort zone. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. Not only did I learn a great deal about a new field and make some of my best friends, but I also explored my passion for marketing and design as the media chair for the organization. I’m excited to serve as USIT’s Director of Marketing next year. The second organization where I found my community is the Social Entrepreneurship Learning Lab (or SELL), a fellowship aimed at positively influencing the world through social entrepreneurship. With the support of other fellows and the SELL board, I grew personally and was able to launch my own social endeavor, Bloom, which serves as a safe space for LGBTQ+ teens.

The rest of my Freshman year passed in a blur. Between starting a climate change mitigation organization, pushing for a climate bill to pass in the Texas House of Representatives, getting my start in freelance design, serving on a friend’s student government campaign, and getting into both the Dedman Distinguished Scholars Program and the Business Honors Program, it was nothing short of an eventful year.

During the summer of 2019, I interned as a brand planner at The Richards Group, an advertising agency based in Dallas. While I thoroughly enjoyed the strategic aspect of the job, I realized that advertising might not be the field for me. Far from being a wasted summer, however, I’m grateful for the experience -- because learning what isn’tyour passion is just as important as discovering what is. In the year ahead, I am excited to explore my majors, Plan II and BHP, and continue to grow into the best version of myself.

Brynna Boyd
Plan II/Communication & Leadership

I’m a sophomore majoring in Communication and Leadership with Plan II Honors. This past year I was able to participate in many different activities on campus, including service as the Secretary for the Black Honors Students Association. In this position, I was able to take part in our mentorship program, where I served as a lunch buddy for a kindergarten student. Similarly, I volunteered with Communities in Schools as a reading buddy, and had an incredible time watching my second-grade student’s reading skills improve and writing a children’s book for her to keep. I was also a member of the Plan II Student Association’s first Diversity Committee, and will serve as a co-chair this coming year. Over the summer, I spent a month in Cape Town, South Africa studying urban economic development and interning with the Bethel Women’s Project. Upon returning, I’ve volunteered as a student teacher for the Chin Community Ministries Summer Reading and Computer Literacy classes. I can’t wait for this coming year where I will continue to learn and pursue new opportunities as a Dedman Scholar!

Hailey Hollowell
Plan II/International Relations & Global Studies

I am a rising sophomore studying International Relations & Global Studies and Plan II Honors with a minor in French. I became involved in several student government organizations my freshman year, including the Senate of College Councils where I will continue to serve on the Faculty Affairs committee as a general member. I also dedicated much of my time to Liberal Arts Council on the College Ambassadors Committee, which I will co-chair this year. In both orgs, I’ll focus on connecting UT students and faculty members. In the spring of 2019, I interned with the Chairman of the Texas House Committee on Public Education before continuing to study education on a faculty-led Maymester to Cambridge, England. This year I am excited to pursue research, join a volunteer reading organization for public school students, serve as a peer-mentor to incoming Plan II freshman, and get to know the other women in the Courage Cohort

Janae Steggall
Liberal Arts Honors/Government, History, and International Relations

This has been a year of self-discovery, gaining confidence, and making a home at UT: a complete transformation of heart, mind, and soul.

Moving away from home was almost too much. My family is everything to me. That first semester, I drove home every other weekend, struggling to find my place and missing my people. I drowned in a sea of burnt orange, weighed down by the imposter syndrome. My lifesaver was my participation in the campus organization TX Votes. Within this group, I found life-long friends, a passion for leadership and community service, increasing self-confidence, and the space I needed to flourish at UT. The Liberal Arts Honors Program also gave me a home away from home: without LAH and the many friends and professors I’ve met through it, I would be lost. I am grateful for LAH and the people and opportunities that I encountered in my first year and can’t wait for more!

I came into my freshman year as a History major and left as a Government and International Relations double major. I interacted with childhood heroes, such as Dr. W.H. Brands, and met professors with a passion for their field. During this time, I fell in love with the study of language. I am taking French classes and plan on learning Russian as an upperclassman. I hope to conduct research on French treatment of foreigners and migrants for my thesis.

UT taught me that every day holds the possibility of changing your life. One day after class, I attended an internship fair, which then led me to a job at the Capitol with Representative Guillen. That experience was incredibly rewarding and helped me hone my career plans: it redirected my intellectual interests away from legislative affairs and towards the impact of policy decisions on the communities. In the future, I’d love to work for inspirational women in the legislature: in the presence of these women leaders, I can learn more about myself -- and I might even have the chance to shape drafted legislation while truly serving my state. When I’m home for the summer, I’ll be interning with Mayor Betsy Price of Fort Worth every second I’m available. My next year will have learning as a central theme!

This past year, I fell in love with writing and began to see English as a language of purposefulness rather than happenstance. In September, I will serve as a Writing Fellow for the Liberal Arts Honors Program’s 102H class. This fall I will also launch my nonprofit “Reading With Meaning,” which introduces middle school students to literature that explores mental health issues, gender identity, sexual orientation, racial identity, and bullying. Our goal is to empower children to overcome hardship in a positive, non-destructive way, and to develop empathy for others. Our goal is to instill kindness, tolerance, and understanding into the next generation. I am bursting with optimism and cannot wait for what the future holds!


Sophomore Cohort: Humility

Tea Anderson
Madi Ketter
Aoife McDonnell
Cesar Martinez
Juliet Suarez-Calderon
Lori Woo
Tea Anderson
Liberal Arts Honors/International Relations & Global Studies

I am a Texas resident, I have a Virginia driver’s license, and I call Las Vegas home; needless to say, settling in one place is a foreign concept. At this time last year I was trying to figure out how I was going to live in one city for four consecutive years. Now, I love Austin and am trying to cram as much into the next three years as possible. I knew college was going to change my life, but I never could have imagined how rapidly and how fundamentally it would do so. My freshman year at UT caused me to reevaluate my goals, my relationships, and even myself.

Maybe it is the Vegas girl in me, but I centered this last year on being ‘all in.’ I wanted to live as intentionally and purposefully as possible. I also pushed myself to take survivable risks. This combination led to an interesting academic route that included courses involving South Africa during Apartheid, the uncanniness of vampires, and solving symbolic logic problems. I was able to focus on the topics I found interesting while simultaneously refining my writing and public speaking skills.

However, the most important developments happened outside of the lecture halls. Through my Dedman application, I have fallen into a deep love with creating digital media. This passion has resulted in lots of independent research on different software, learning about intricate camera settings, and losing many hours of sleep to create montage videos, some of which even highlight Dedman events. I plan on pursuing this passion in my future years at UT through the Bridging Disciplines Program in order to gain technical training to showcase the stories I want to tell.

Beyond academics, I explored several different social scenes on the Forty Acres. I played on an intramural soccer team and dedicated Thursday nights to refining my billiard skills. I also worked as a staff writer with fellow Dedman Selome Hailu’s music publication Afterglow. I helped begin a spirit group, the Texas Novas, with other Dedman scholars as well. As part of the Liberal Arts Honors Envision Austin competition, I developed a non-profit that aims to connect foster children to the resources necessary to enable them to pursue a college education with a group of peers. I also volunteered at the Jeremiah Program, a center dedicated to helping single moms pursue a college degree.

A lot of changes occurred in the last year, but sophomore year is already proving to contain several more. As a result, I am going to spend the summer catching my breath with my family and friends in Las Vegas and doing some domestic traveling before heading off to Poland where I will be mentoring teenagers in speaking English.

Far and away, the Dedman program has been the most meaningful aspect of UT. I am constantly inspired and in awe of the faculty, mentors, and my peers; they have made me want to be better in every way possible. I have never felt so supported and enabled in my entire life. I am thankful every day that I somehow ended up among this amazing group of staff and scholars; I cannot possibly imagine being anywhere else. Thank you immensely to the Dedman family for fostering such an amazing and meaningful community.

Madi Ketter
Plan II/Government

One phrase I would use to describe my Freshman year at UT is “New Beginnings”.

At the start of the fall semester, I felt pretty confident about what to expect from my college experience. I was enrolled in Plan II and majoring in Government with aspirations of becoming an attorney. However, I quickly realized that deciding on a major would prove more difficult than I had originally thought. Classes such as Intro to Ancient Greece and Biology made me question my path. Maybe I would become an archeologist and uncover the lost city of Atlantis. Or maybe a Botanist and develop herbal medicines to treat a host of different diseases. In all, I contemplated about 4 different areas of study before finally committing to Business. With much joy and excitement, I accepted the invitation to the Business Honors Program. Afterall, entrepreneurship has been close to my heart since I was an adolescent. At thirteen, I opened an Etsy shop to sell my handmade polymer clay charms. I loved the feeling of bringing joy to my customers with something that I had made and that passion never ceased.

Fueled with that same fervor, I started a new organization on campus called the Texas Novas, which is centered around: diversity, service, spirit, friendship, and academics. Although I was excited to birth something new, it has not been without growing pains. From writing a constitution to finding new members, there is always something to be done. What has made this venture pleasurable is having a few fellow Dedmans as members to aide in making this endeavor a worthwhile experience. I am so grateful for their continued support and enthusiasm to see me succeed with both Dedman and Novas.

This summer I took a leap of faith and signed up for a 2 month study abroad program in Toulouse, France. While there, I took a class on modern art and continued my study of the French language. The highlight of the trip was being in such close proximity to many of the major cities. One weekend, I was able to travel with a group of students to the city of Nice in the French Riviera. It was a breathtaking site to see with beautiful rock beaches and old world architecture. But of course, it was the people I met while in France that was the best part overall. From my host family who were so welcoming and made me feel like a part of their family to my fellow students who stood by my side throughout the scorching hot days, weekend getaways and class projects, this wonderful opportunity has left an indelible mark on my memory and will forever be in my heart.

I would like to say a huge thank you to the Dedman family because without them and their generous contribution I would not have had the amazing opportunities I have had this year. I feel beyond blessed to have this honor and I look forward to continuing the legacy of excellence that they have started.

Aoife McDonnell
Plan II/International Relations & Global Studies

Last Fall, the 30-minute commute from my house to the University of Texas at Austin, felt like moving to an entirely new planet. However, after a year of officially being a Longhorn, I am so happy to feel that I have a new home and community! Being a member of the Dedman Distinguished Scholars community has been the high point of my freshman year and this kind, ambitious, and inspiring community has been so very welcoming to me.

This past year I have been able to take a variety of classes as wide as my interests. I especially enjoyed my Plan II Honors seminar classes on World Literature and Immigration Narratives. From Chinese Sci-Fi novels to ancient Indian epics, I truly enjoyed reading and discussing these works from a global viewpoint. In high school I adored my foreign language classes and I was delighted to continue studying French at at UT. The advanced French classes that I have taken at UT have greatly improved my language skills and it has been fascinating to learn - in French - about current events and social issues in Francophone countries. These classes have really cemented my love of the language, and I look forward to continuing my French studies next year.

Outside of the classroom, I was able to get involved in the Austin community through the Plan II/KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) partnership. I attended classes about the American public education system and mentored a fifth grader (who always beat me in our chess matches!) at KIPP Austin Arts and Letters Academy. During my Spring semester, I was accepted into UT Austin’s Social Entrepreneurship Learning Lab (SELL) where I learnt about how social entrepreneurship can be utilized to foster social innovation. Through this program, I had the opportunity to pitch at UT’s “Sell Your Impact” Changemaker Conference! I am also delightedtobeanofficerandmemberofTexasNovas,aspiritgroupfoundedthisyearbyfellow Dedman Scholar, Madi Ketter, and I look forward to helping it grow next year. Finally, after a semester of not playing any music, I jumped at the opportunity to lift my flute again and become a member of the Liberal Arts MusicEnsemble.

This summer, thanks to the generosity of the Dedman family, I am spending a month in Vienna studying the relationship between cultural memory and the city (and hopefully picking up some German!). I will then spend some time in Ireland visiting family and friends before returning with great anticipation to my sophomore year at the University of Texas at Austin!

I am so grateful to the Dedman family for their generosity and support. As we say in Ireland, go raibh míle maith agat (“a thousand thank you’s”!).

Cesar Martinez
Plan II

Looking back at my first year on the Forty Acres, I am happy to say that the journey has been an incredible one. From realizing that I’d now be on my own to wake up in the morning to figuring out that colors don’t mix in the laundry with whites, the first few weeks of the fall semester were, to say the least, a first course in adulting. Yet I am sure that as much I discovered about housekeeping, I learned a great deal more in Dr. Rebhorn’s World Literature course. With great wisdom and wit, Dr. Rebhorn taught me how to appreciate the beauty and depth of works like Homer’s Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno. He also, of course, did not shy away from pointing out areas of improvement and really encouraged me to think deeply about how to formulate and defend my ideas.

In the spring, I took Dr. Çiperiani’s Introduction to Number Theory course, and I am so glad I did. Having written her doctoral thesis under the eminent Andrew Wiles, Dr. Çiperiani helped me work through some of the most elegant proofs in all of mathematics. I really enjoyed the class, and I feel re-affirmed that math is the right place for me. I was, though, able to spare some time for the arts. Hoping to learn more about museum education, I applied for the Plan II internship at the Blanton Museum. While another will be fulfilling this role, I really enjoyed both exploring the opportunities on offer at UT and getting to speak with the Blanton’s very own Dr. Lehman and Mr. Williams.

This summer I plan on volunteering with the Animal Defense League and studying some math textbooks so graciously given to me by fellow Dedman Nathan Alvarez-Olson. As always, I am forever indebted to the generosity of the Dedman family without whose gift I suspect I would not have been able to dedicate myself to my studies and growth as wholeheartedly as I have been able to for the past nine months. Hook ‘em!

Juliet Suarez-Calderon
Liberal Arts Honors Program/Sociology

My freshman year was far from an idyllic start to the life I’d dreamt of for the better part of 18 years. I may not have cherished every moment, but I am grateful for countless papers and live performances, new friendships and inspiring mentors, small adventures and newfound interests.

Uncertainty clouded my original choice to pursue an International Relations major, but I quickly realized that Sociology can give me the analytical lens to better understand interlocking systems of inequity and Latin American Studies will enhance my studies with meaningful historical and cultural enrichment. Courses like “African American Culture,” “Reacting to the Past,” and “Punishment and Society” have engaged me like no other classes before, and my favorite teachers yet have amazed me with their unprecedented encouragement and dedication.

I delved into advanced French this year and will further pursue my love of Romance languages with Portuguese next fall. This spring, I also found various outlets to maintain my Spanish away from home by regularly tutoring a Spanish student and mentoring a bright 15-year-old girl from Mexico-- an experience fulfilling beyond words. Additionally, I served as a Spanish office and field research assistant for Project SEED. This expansive UT research project focuses on the effects on Mexican and Mexican-American children who practice language brokering for their parents, an experience that hits close to home.

Fall was a gradual adjustment burdened with a heavy course load but it produced great personal and academic growth. I was inspired to devote numerous hours in October to an affordable housing campaign and found my weekly escape in SEAL (Students for Expanding Austin Literacy). Helping as a reading buddy allowed me to channel my love of working with children, and I uniquely connected with my fourth grader as I helped her through the familiar struggle of an ESL student. Spring helped me find my place at UT. I expanded my social justice framework (and made great friends!) through an insightful 6-week Multicultural Leadership Institute program. I found stress-relief and a supportive team in intramural co-ed volleyball and helped to found UT’s first Latinx Honors Student Association.

I entered freshman year teeming with nerves and doubt and anxious excitement, and can happily say that I am leaving it with hope and a sense of possibility. This summer I will be keeping myself busy in Austin with an extended research practicum for Project SEED and a separate research project on data collection and analysis of legal fines and fees across Texas. I will also serve as an issue advocacy intern for MOVE Texas, a grassroots non-profit for underrepresented communities. I am eager to advance my research and writing skills and gain policy and advocacy experience for the issues I care about.

I can’t imagine my experience without the opportunities and unparalleled support provided by the Dedman family and community. I am beyond grateful for the unique generosity and encouragement I have found in this program that made this year possible.

Lori Woo
Plan II/Social Work

My first year at UT can be summed up with these thoughtful words spoken on the phone to me from a Dedman alumna: "You know that personal transformation you undertook in high school? Well, college is like that times 100."

Since September, I’ve been a research assistant for the Evolution, Variation, and Ontogeny of Learning laboratory led by Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Cristine Legare. The lab researches cultural differences in cognitive flexibility and imitation among children. I tested dozens of participants both in the lab and through recruitment at the Thinkery museum. I also coded data from field sites in Vanuatu, Ethiopia, and Ghana. I am grateful for the valuable insight into the research process I gained from Dr. Legare and the talented postdoctoral researchers.

I am fortunate that my favorite course, Plan II World Literature with the fabulous Dr. Lisa Moore, happened to be a yearlong class. Reading masterpieces by women of various cultures and time periods was an unprecedented and empowering experience. For the second semester, the class tapped into its social justice theme with a community engagement project - a reading buddy program at an under-resourced elementary school in east Austin. My first grader adored unicorns, so I made a children’s book, The Horse and the Unicorn, for her to keep. Every Monday, I looked forward to spending time with my buddy, getting her excited about reading, and seeing the world through her eyes.

For my first-year signature course, I took Cultivating Resilience with Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Rosa Schnyer. When I read the course description, which described burnout syndrome as both an individual and collective phenomenon, I knew this was the class to take! I began journaling and practicing mindfulness regularly as part of the course, which helped me grow in gratitude and self-awareness. I also learned about the power of vulnerability (thanks Brené Brown!) and the effects of long-term stressors on the brain. To conclude the course, I created a Pecha Kucha presentation on how meaning contributes to resilience, incorporating one of my heroes Viktor Frankl’s work with logotherapy.

Living in Austin has its perks. I attended six concerts, four plays, and even got to see Harry Potterand the Prisoner of Azkaban in concert performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra with a fellow Dedman scholar. I thank the Dedman family for blessing me with the means to explore the arts and my evolving academic interests. Phase two of the college metamorphosis is coming, and I can't wait!


Junior Cohort: Sacrifice

Frances Garnett
Ray Kitziger
Grace Leake
Thanvi Thodati
Frances Garnett
Liberal Arts Honors/Theater & Dance/International Relations

This year, I’ve finally found the path to balance the training of my mind, body, and heart through my new double-major: Theatre and Dance and International Relations and Global Studies. Theatre keeps me grounded in my feelings and instincts, allowing me to better know myself, while IRG poses intellectual conundrums that expand my mind and catalyzes me to explore my curiosities.

As a new theater major, I worked on five different plays. I served as the dramaturg for my friend Elise Petersen’s “The Red Tent Club”, which advocated for comprehensive sex ed in high schools. I served on the Advisory Committee for the Cohen New Works Festival, which brought me in contact with esteemed theater professionals and guest artists and allowed me to appreciate the amazing work that my peers created. Outside of theater work, I got my writing published twice! One piece was an interview of musician Japanese Wallpaper for Afterglow (an online music publication co-founded by Selome!), and the other a short story for the Echo Literary Magazine. I also served as the communication director for Aspire Scholar Database, and as an event planner for Afterglow.

Through my classes on Southeast Asian government and politics and the Vietnam wars, I began intellectually reconnecting with the region where I grew up. In January, I returned to Bangkok with my sister and Grace, a my fellow Dedman, and, for the first time in five years, revisited old landmarks and friends that I’ve been missing ever since I left. Just being there grounded me, and I left knowing that I would be back, and that my relationship with Thailand is still evolving. In the Spring, I channeled my feelings and memories into “A Place Called the Middle”, a new play by MFA playwriting student I-Chia Chiu that I acted in. This play was one of the most touching I’ve ever done, and I’m so grateful to have been able to tell a story about homesickness, memory, and evolving identity that I didn’t even know I was dying to tell. I realized that this is the kind of theater I want to make and going forward I want to explore through theater a term I learned in my IRG class: cultural hybridization, and the people who experience it growing up.

This summer, I’m currently interning at the Dallas Theater Center in their SummerStage educational program, where I get to flex my teaching muscles for the first time. As another first, I’m music and co-directing my first musical with a friend of mine for the summer season of his summer repertory company. In July, I’ll start a three week French intensive to prepare me to study abroad in the Spring, so I can finally become fluent in a language I’ve been studying for almost a decade.

None of this would be possible without the Dedman family. This program has completely changed the way I view college and gives me the chance to explore everything I could ever want and more. I’m so grateful that they added a sophomore cohort, and to all my fellow Dedmans who inspire and intrigue me every day.

Ray Kitziger
Plan II/Chemistry/Business of Health Care

My sophomore year of college has wrapped up nicely! This year has been one of tremendous growth for me academically, extracurricularly, and personally. Before I recap my year, I want to thank the Dedman family for their generous gifts and the amazing community they have helped build on the Forty Acres.

In the classroom, I’ve expanded beyond just my pre-med, BSA Chemistry, and BA Plan II coursework into two academic programs here at UT that I believe will be invaluable for my future: the McCombs Business of Healthcare Program and the Ethics and Leadership of Healthcare program. I’m looking forward to the variety of classes I will be taking over the next 2 years and am excited to be intellectually challenged (I hope that I will still be able to graduate in 4 years!).

Extracurricularly, I’ve stayed very involved with organizations on campus despite an often over-powering course load. I was accepted into Texas 4000 last Fall and look to continue volunteering, fundraising, and training for the longest annual charity bike ride in the world— a mammoth trek from Austin to Alaska that I will undertake in the summer of 2020. Additionally, I continue to stay involved with the Texas Men’s Soccer team in both my managerial and Vice President capacities. We are currently working on getting some awesome Nike gear for the team next August! Lastly, I have begun researching at Dell Medical School with the Musculoskeletal Institute. I help with many ongoing projects with patients and have a personal project of my own that examines clinician bias.

I’ve tried to find time for self-care this year as well. I have been going to the gym regularly this semester in an effort to increase my personal fitness. I found time to read during the Spring semester and explore the many outdoor areas of Austin, something I hadn’t been able to do until now.

I have a few exciting things and a few not-so-exciting things lined up for this summer. The former includes a trip to New York City to visit my sister and see my favorite band, The Strokes, play at the Governor’s Ball Festival. I also am lucky enough to spend the month of June as an extern at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston working with the Neurosurgery unit. Unfortunately, after my time in Houston, I am returning to Dallas to study for my MCAT until the Fall semester begins.

I can’t wait for what the next 2 years have in store for me and I am so grateful to have a wonderful community to share these memories with! I want to send a big thank you to Dean Musick, Julie, and Amy for being outstanding faculty mentors for both myself and the program as a whole.

Grace Leake
Plan II/Business Honors Program

It’s hard to believe that this reflection marks the halfway point of college! The last two years have sped by, yet have been packed with so many new experiences that they seem to contain more than their 730 days.

I began the year by transferring into the Business Honors Program, opening new academic vistas and sparking new friendships. I worked on hands-on projects such as designing startups and presenting business case recommendations, challenging me to improve my presentation skills and my ability to work closely with teams of diverse personalities.

I spent a lot of time evaluating where I am and where I want to go. I tested my interest in academia by conducting a year-long research project, working closely with a professor to unravel distinct source material within the Torah to understand technical contradictions and literary variances within the compiled text. I also took a graduate philosophy class in the spring to get a feel for what graduate school looks like and whether I still want to pursue a PhD after graduation.

On a personal level, I threw myself into new extracurricular activities. I worked with Aspire Scholarship Database, a nonprofit that pairs rural high school students with small local scholarships to improve college access. I also worked alongside some of my closest friends to restart UT’s chapter of Design for America, serving as the communications and finance director. I’m excited to spearhead local projects through DFA, and will spend next semester working with Austin’s YMCA to improve employee satisfaction, mentorship opportunities, and lifeguard retention rates. I joined UT’s beekeeping club and spent my weekends planting flowers, checking hives, and geeking out about bees. I also became a peer mentor for UT’s Core Texts and Ideas program, mentoring a group of freshmen and seeking to foster a tight community in the program. That experience led to a lot of memorable adventures, including my car belching smoke and screeching to a halt on an abandoned East Texas road after taking my mentees to see a Shakespeare play.

Closest to my heart, I started an intramural soccer team called Soccertes with friends from my Plan II philosophy class. I took away lessons about how to motivate others, how to build an effective community, and how to bake really delicious protein cookies. We have yet to win a game, but UT better watch out, because we’re coming for victory next semester!

As we dive into the summer, I’m looking forward to working on my novel and polishing up a paper on the vices and virtues of love in Gabriel García Márquez’s novels, which I’ll present at a conference in Pamplona next fall. I’ll spend the summer traveling to Guatemala to study archaeology and entrepreneurship among contemporary Maya people, then flying to Colombia to immerse myself in the Spanish language.

I’m beyond grateful to the Dedmans for all the opportunities this scholarship has offered me. The Dedman community has truly become my home this year. It’s been an invaluable source of support and encouragement, both for the happy times and the really hard weeks. I love y’all and can’t wait for the next two years!

Thanvi Thodati
Plan II/Neuroscience

Even though I’d already finished a year of college, I entered my sophomore year with new beginnings in mind. Academically, it was definitely one of the more rigorous years. Personally, it was one of the happiest.

I applied to Natural Sciences Council, almost on whim, and was thrilled to find a community that was so immediately enthusiastic and welcoming. With the help of friends and mentors in the organization, I began to learn more about legislation on campus. I was reminded how much I miss working with kids at a number of science outreach events (often involving slime). I was also able to publish a short article on self-care in Catalyst, NSC’s online publication. In addition to joining NSC, I continued volunteering with St. David’s Medical Center, though I decided to move from the ER to the Neonatal ICU. In the NICU, I was able to spend more time getting to know the staff and learning about an area of the hospital I’d never even seen before. I took on leadership roles with the Polymathic Scholars Panel and Kappa Rho Pre-Medical Honor Society. As a Polymath mentor, I also was lucky enough to meet three brilliant freshmen, who really never fail to make me smile. There was also a lot of unexpected fun – getting to see Michelle Obama and Hasan Minhaj live, taking a 10-day trip to California with one of my best friends, and exploring more of the city I’ve always called home.

This year marked a new beginning especially for my academic interests. In the fall, I designed a field for my Polymathic Scholars’ Evidence and Inquiry certificate. At the time, it centered on foreignness as it relates to structural linguistics. Now, I’m working to redesign my field entirely, inspired by the work I do with R. Adron Harris Lab in the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research and an interest in Asian Studies. I hope to focus on alcoholism as it affects South Asian homes and families, looking also at psychiatric co-morbidities, related women’s movements, and proposed solutions. As a result, I’ve picked up a Women’s and Gender Studies minor, and my neuroscience interests have shifted to center on addiction and mental health. I will be studying abroad next semester at University College London, where I hope to delve further into these areas.

During the summer of 2019, I’m taking classes on campus, including one on Toni Morrison (whose writing I am always in awe of) that I’ve been looking forward to since before college. I’ll also be spending a good chunk of time studying for the MCAT, which marks the half-way point in my college career. It really does go by faster than I can believe. I’m thankful to the Dedman Scholars community and the Dedman family for their support in helping me make the most of this past year and those to come.


Junior Cohort: Integrity

Will Clough
Milena Djordjecvic-Kisacanin
Sara Flinn
Selome Hailu
Will Clough
Liberal Arts Honors/International Relations & Global Studies

Sophomore year was a time to define previous interests and discover new ones. Throughout the

year, I dedicated more time to leadership and extracurricular opportunities outside of the classroom while also taking time to work towards my academic goals. I returned to Austin after one week of vacation between the University’s intensive Arabic Summer Institute and the beginning of the fall semester. The Summer Institute was an incredibly rewarding scholastic experience and the first time I have intensely on a single subject every day for 10 weeks. As such, it should come as no surprise that I quickly decided to add Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures as a second major, and also made the decision to pursue a certificate program in Security Studies. In doing so, I had access to several unique

classes such as “International Security” taught by UT’s very own in-house CIA analyst and class which focuses specifically on the Moroccan dialect of Arabic. I even took advantage of the University’s fine arts program and took private beginner cello lessons for credit.

At the beginning of the fall semester I also made the decision to get more involved around campus and Austin as a whole. I began working as a tutor/mentor for Arabic-speaking refugee students at a local middle school and made the decision to join Texas Blazers, a men’s service and spirit organization. My work through Texas Blazers has allowed me to not only serve UT as an official host, but also to serve the Austin community: I’ve worked as a mentor at a low-income high school in East Austin as well as co-designed and implemented a community garden. In the next year, I’ll continue to prioritize service, especially on campus, as I serve in my new position as Texas Blazers’ Vice-Chair of Campus Service.

This summer I’ll pursue my interests in the Middle East and national security through two summer programs. First I will be travelling to Washington DC through a fully-funded Texas Intelligence Project, where I will be studying America’s national intelligence community through firsthand experiences and conversations with experts in the field. I will then travel to Ibri, Oman through the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship program; in Oman I will study Arabic for eight weeks while also taking part in an important cultural exchange in the Middle East for the first time.

As always, I would like to finally thank the Dedman family and Dedman Scholars community for all of their support. Without the generosity of the Dedmans, none of these experiences would have been possible, and I am extremely grateful for their constant support. Thank you and Hook ‘em!

Milena Djordjecvic-Kisacanin
Liberal Arts Honors/Russian & East European Studies

Sophomore year was the year that I discovered myself -- and it was greatly thanks to the wonderful community here at Dedman. After returning from Istanbul, I had a much clearer vision of what I wanted to focus my undergraduate studies on. Turkey had taught me so much -- from visiting abandoned Greek villages to chatting with Afghan workers in Cappadocia, I’d learned many lessons about multiculturalism, political repression, and the heavy weight of history in this part of the world. I decided that for undergrad, my focus would be nationalism, ethnic conflict, and cultural politics in the Balkans and Middle East.

This past year, I finally leapt into courses relating to my interests. I took classes ranging from Punks and Divas (which explored popular music in ex-Yugoslavia through the lens of nationalism/politics) to a course on foundational Serbo-Croatian literature (taught in the language!) to a history course on the modern Middle East. I also continued studying the Persian language, and was able to take courses on modern history and short stories taught exclusively in Farsi. My goal to learn Farsi led me to apply to the Critical Language Scholarship for Persian, a state department-funded language program in Tajikistan. One of fall semester’s defining moments was sitting in the PCL past midnight with fellow Dedman Will, writing and revising our application essays together a day before the deadline. Happily enough, we both were accepted to our respective programs -- and I’m spending the latter part of this summer in Tajikistan, studying the language of my dreams.

Sophomore year also carried plentiful research opportunities, some of them only possible through Dedman. I had the privilege to join “Democratic Dialogues,” a Dedman-funded research project about social media and youth political participation in Ukraine. I joined fellow Ded Abby and a team of several other students and professors as we conducted our research both at UT and overseas, even presenting our work at a conference. I also worked as a translator for a UT archeological team that was studying a site in Serbia, helping them access research papers that were only available in Serbian.

Throughout this busy year of research, studies, and travels, the Dedman community has been a consistent source of comfort and support. I’m deeply indebted to several older Dedman scholars for their wonderful advice and willingness to talk though any issues: Bethany, my fellow Persian-learner and world-traveler; Sophie Jerwick (who is just pure goals); Jillian, who offered great advice on CLS; Grace and Frances, two lovely friends I was honored to welcome into our sophomore generation; and to everyone else who supported me this year. And most of all, I owe a large thank-you to the Dedman family, whose generous gift has both created this wonderful community and allowed me to pursue my strongest passions.

This upcoming fall, I’m returning to Istanbul to deepen my knowledge of the Balkans and Turkey; I’m especially excited about a research project I’m planning over the understudied Bosniack minority in Istanbul. Now that the anxieties and uncertainties of freshman year have washed away, I’m thrilled to plunge into junior year and continue my journey!

Sara Flinn
Plan II/Sustainability Studies/English

I cannot thank the Dedman family enough for providing me with the resources and support to explore my passions and interests. Over the past year, my studies in sustainability at UT and abroad led me to find my passion in the confluence of environmental law and human rights, motivating me to set my sights on law school. These intersections took form both in my coursework and during a month-long adventure studying abroad in Ecuador, where I was able to witness the relationship between culture, federal policy, and local organizing to preserve environmental and human rights. I was tremendously lucky to meet with local leaders and organizers who are expanding the theories and practices of organic agriculture, creating innovative water treatment systems, and developing environmental and public policy.  Their voices brought some much needed perspective to what it means to develop sustainable systems. When I wasn’t learning from local leaders, I had the opportunity to hike through the Amazon rainforest, share meals, learn and laugh with local communities, camp in some of the most beautiful scenery with wonderfully atrocious weather, and meet some very friendly dogs and cats. I have been lucky to work at the Campus Environmental Center, a student-led group developing new and innovative programs on campus, learning from fellow students and working together to develop more inclusive programs that recognizes the scope of environmentalism. I also began working with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid this summer, where I am constantly humbled and grateful to hear the voices of South and Central Texans working to better their circumstances. Hearing the range of experiences that Texans share and connecting with people over their stories has been instrumental in broadening my perspective of the capacity of the legal profession to provide meaningful change and address systemic issues.

I am looking forward to starting the second half of my undergraduate career, and I am continually reminded of how lucky I am to be part of the Dedman community; I will always be grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow alongside all of my phenomenal fellow Dedman scholars

Selome Hailu
Liberal Arts Honors Program/English/African & African Diaspora Studies

Sophomore year felt like a renaissance of self. As though moving into my first apartment and finally being forced to learn to cook for myself wasn’t enough to learn, this was a time for new creative and academic direction, too.

During my freshman year I wrote for ORANGE Magazine, UT’s premier lifestyle publication, and this year I accepted an editor position. My section covers pop culture and politics, and I was able to help my writers pitch and compose a body of journalistic work that I’m really proud of. Our coverage of film, local nonprofits, student protests, and Austin festivals among other things really well represents the issues that resonate with our readers. On a personal level, ORANGE has brought me both people and projects that have helped me focus my own goals.

Last summer, I started laying down plans with a friend to launch Afterglow, UT’s first and only music publication. What started as a brainstorming session in a West Campus coffee shop is now a platform with over 200 published articles thanks to our team of around 60 students. Serving as an Editor-in-Chief of Afterglow has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Working with ORANGE Magazine has helped me develop the skills to produce work that I’m passionate about, and Afterglow has allowed me to give that same learning experience to others. A majority of our staffers are either freshmen or new to journalistic style, but we have provided them with the resources and guidance to put together a magazine as good as any other.

My parents are from Ethiopia, and over winter break I visited for the first time since I was there. Getting to see the houses and landscapes and community centers where my parents and grandparents grew up, especially in contrast to my American upbringing, has really impacted the way I conceptualize home. Right after coming back to the states, I switched my course schedule to enroll in Home in Contemporary African Diasporic Fiction, which quickly became my favorite class at UT to date. Meditating on the idea of home in both a familial and an academic context has helped me focus on what kind of writer I want to be. I’m becoming really interested in personal narrative and cultural criticism with an emphasis on how different pieces of media reflect real-life identities. Because of that I decided to spend my summer as a visiting student at NYU. I participated in Writers in New York, a four-week intensive Creative Nonfiction course where I learned from MFA professors and attended readings and workshops from esteemed authors and publishing professionals.

A few days after writing this, I’ll be flying out to spend my fall semester abroad. For six weeks I’ll be studying intercultural communication and migration in Cape Town, South Africa. For another six weeks after that, I’ll be studying media and psychology in Rome, Italy. This has been the most exciting and travel-filled year of my life, and I am so grateful to the Dedman family for all of it. This community has provided me with not only the resources I’ve needed to have these experiences, but the support and confidence necessary to drive myself towards them. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for  trusting me to be a part of this.


Senior Cohort: Compassion

Bethany Burtch
Jacob Hood
Abby Kuchek
Ethan Russo
Taryn Shanes
Bethany Burtch
Liberal Arts Honors/Middle Eastern Studies

I cannot believe that I only have one year left on this beautiful campus and with my wonderful Dedman community! It's definitely safe to say that college has gone by far too quickly. As I look back on all that I've done and experienced and look forward to life in the real adult world, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to the Dedman family for their incredible generosity. They have completely changed my life by giving me the freedom to focus on my interests and to explore any opportunity I wanted without worry; I will never be able to thank them enough.

I returned to campus in August after a summer full of travel (Czech Republic, Serbia, Lebanon, and Peru) with only two days to move in to my apartment and get ready for classes. I hit the ground running taking 18 hours and I have to say, it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be! It definitely helps that I took so many hours because I wanted to take the classes, not because I needed the credit. I continued with Arabic and Persian, learned African American history which I should have been taught in high school, challenged myself with an honors writing class, and completed over 100 hours to become certified in conflict mediation. In the Spring I continued in my study of Middle Eastern Languages but also had the opportunity to learn about cross-cultural management and our country National Defense (my professor claims that I now know more about the D.o.D and Defense Policy than most people running for president!). As an Undergraduate Fellow with the Clements Center for National Security I was able to meet incredibly interesting policy makers and civil servants. I also was able to work as a TA for a second-year Arabic class--I loved holding office hours and seeing the moment when a concept that students were struggling with finally clicked. 

I'm now (June 2019) writing from my apartment in Algeria! I am SO excited to intern in the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Algiers. Even though Algiers was the city in which I lived the longest, I haven't been back in nearly ten years. It's the last place that felt like home, and although I know it won't be the same, I am so happy to be back. I've only been here for a few days, but I'm eager to learn about the inner workings of an embassy, the real life implications of foreign policy (and specifically immigration and visa processes), and generally how it feels to work forty-hour weeks

Jacob Hood
Liberal Arts Honors Program: English, Sociology, African and African Diaspora Studies, BDP Certificate in Public Policy

I came into my junior year at UT with a clearer idea of where my academic and professional pursuits will take me. Coming off an exhilarating summer in Washington, D.C. working at the American Bar Association’s Section for Civil Rights and Social Justice, I was excited to further my advocacy work through research. This year has by far been the most challenging and intensive yet, however I enter my senior year more sure of my journey than ever.

This year I served as the Diversity Director on the Liberal Arts Council Executive Board. In this role I created, developed, and implemented a college-wide mentorship program called UTeam for underrepresented students in the College of Liberal Arts. In addition, I continued my work with Students for Equity and Diversity in the university’s Multicultural Engagement Center as well as a Writing Fellow for the LAH class of 2022. However, most of my time this year was dedicated to my own research. Through both the Junior Fellows honors program and the Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Fellowship, I continued my research project investigating the intersection of police body-worn cameras, facial recognition, and public policy. I was also accepted into the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship for students planning to pursue a Ph.D. in the liberal arts and humanistic social sciences. Through this program, I had the privilege of working with Dr. Marcelo Paixão on a project investigating Black entrepreneurship in the U.S. as well as the effects of the 2008 recession on Black-owned banks. Working on these projects throughout the school year has helped solidify research as one of my guiding passions - a passion I plan to pursue for the rest of my life.

Next year, I will serve as the Head Writing Fellow for the LAH class of 2023 and also complete my thesis entitled “Race and Community Perceptions of Police Body-Worn Cameras” through the Sociology Honors program. This summer, I will be traveling to Accra, Ghana through the African and African Diaspora Studies department to learn how art impacts social and community development. Through both ethnographic research and activist-oriented performance, I will learn how to merge my lifelong love of the arts with my future career in social scientific research. I will also spend this summer beginning my applications for Ph.D. programs in Sociology as I start to look to life beyond the Forty Acres.

I cannot thank LAH and the Dedman family enough for all of their support and guidance throughout my three years at UT! As I begin my final year as an undergraduate, I am beyond excited to see where this last leg of the journey will take me.

Abby Kuchek
Liberal Arts Honors/Humanities/Philosophy

The past year was filled with experiences both new and familiar, and much self-reflection. The Dedman Scholars Program has afforded me remarkable freedom to pursue my intellectual curiosities wherever they’ve led me. That said, I have thrown so much at the proverbial wall that it’s been a tall task discerning what’s stuck. Having explored all I could and ruminated on all I’ve done in my time at UT, I’ve achieved a newfound sense of confidence in my path forward as I enter my final semesters on the Forty Acres.

As an Economics and Philosophy double major, I took coursework in everything from Symbolic Logic to Econometrics to Existentialism. Along the way, I finished up a French minor and declared a certificate in Applied Statistical Modeling. I was awarded the Brumley Next Generation Scholarship at the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law, affording me the opportunity to sharpen my global policy credentials in a competitively selected cohort of nine undergraduates. I worked alongside four other undergraduates, one Master’s student, and two faculty mentors to design and implement a year-long international research project entitled “Democratic Dialogues: Youth, Social Media, and Political Engagement in Ukraine.” With spring survey data coded and Skype sessions transcribed, the team visited Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv in the span of one month to conduct student focus groups and interview leaders within political parties and NGO’s on the state of political engagement on- and offline in Ukraine. My whirlwind year concluded with a 6-week stay in a remote tent camp in Botswana, studying the relationships between land use policy, conservation, and economic development on a UT Geography department study abroad program.

I remained engaged with my community as an advocate for survivors of interpersonal violence. In my Junior year I served as Co-President of Voices Against Violence Student Organization, launching our online presence (look us up on Facebook!) and hosting our annual survivor speakouts, “Breaking the Silence” and “Take Back the Night.” I also served as a Peer Supporter for the Interpersonal Violence Peer Support program, providing emotional support, resource referrals, and reporting information to student survivors of interpersonal violence. I also worked to create a “How to Support a Survivor” workshop that IVPS Peer Supporters will begin offering to organizations around campus this fall. Finally, because I inexplicably decided that I was not busy enough nor will I ever be, I “tapped in” to Texas Orange Jackets, traditionally the oldest honorary women’s service organization on campus and official hosts of the university. My Tap Class created the “For Texas” project, bringing awareness to the racial and gendered history of UT by building website with research and learning resources, hosting a panel of professors and student activists, and creating an endowed scholarship benefiting a self-identified woman and incoming freshman at UT holding marginalized identities.

I owe the Dedman family a debt of gratitude for making all of these experiences and more possible, including a special thanks for their generous donation to the Democratic Dialogues project. I would not be where I am today if not for the Dedman Scholars Program.

Ethan Russo
Plan II/Philosophy, Mathematics, Classics

In my first semester at UT, Larry Carver told me that I would end up with a degree in philosophy. I thought he was dead wrong. He was not. Over the past year, my academic life and ambitions have coalesced around philosophy, and I am the better, and happier, for it.

Much of my first two years at UT I spent attempting to balance my mind’s two halves. One half is drawn to the frosty, abstract peaks of mathematics, the other to the more human--but still rigorous--subjects of English and Classics. I struggled to find a course of study that could satisfy both halves, but in philosophy I found a subject capacious enough to do just that. I can study formal logic in the morning and Socrates’ ethics in the afternoon, and in so doing embrace both parts of myself.

It has, moreover, been an exciting year for me philosophically--I was selected to attend an undergraduate workshop in the subject at the University of Southern California, where I got to meet some of my favorite active philosophers. For a philosophy term paper of mine, I was named a semifinalist for the Co-op’s Mitchell Award for undergraduate research. And I write from Norway, where I am visiting the philosophy department at the University of Oslo. My stay in Oslo is giving me time to begin work on my senior thesis, which I am perhaps too excited to write. (I am also happy to announce that, with my thesis advisers, I have begun organizing a short conference about the issues on which my thesis focuses.)

I am grateful, however, that I also had opportunities this year to cease from my solipsistic theorizing and get involved with the world around me. Having woken up one day last summer and felt that I should be doing more for my campus community, I joined Liberal Arts Council in the fall and in April was elected the organization’s financial director for the upcoming year. Some unexpected joy (in addition to the expected frustration) also came out of the notorious Plan II Physics course. I led homework help sessions for many weeks, and teaching during those sessions--although it left me exhausted--also gave me a heady sense of pride and purpose.

Lastly, I had the chance this year to take some classes with a few other Dedman scholars: in the fall, Austin and I were in an English class, and, in the spring, Grace and I took one on Socrates. The chance to share classes with other Dedman scholars means all the more to me because of the ever-growing importance of the Dedman community in my life. I am deeply grateful to the Dedman family for supporting this community and my own endeavors.

Taryn Shanes
Plan II/International Relations, Public Policy

I’m all smiles for junior year! My third year at UT was full of community, growth, and visits to Amy’s ice cream. Over the past two semesters I saw Bruce Springsteen perform on Broadway, visited Monet’s home in France, and unearthed gluten-free soft pretzels in Strasbourg. I spent a semester at Sciences Po butchering the French language, visiting EU sites, and sampling an extensive list of cheeses. I walked across Spain and ran across Liechtenstein! This year, I spent more time abroad than I did at home—an International Relations major living up to her name.

I spent the first part of my academic year across the Atlantic. Before my fall semester began, I completed independent research over climate action and environmentalism on the Camino de Santiago. The project allowed me to trek the Camino across Northern Spain; I completed 500 miles of walking and copious pages of notes on the people, perspectives, and sustainable practices I found along the Camino. I then headed to Sciences Po in France to complete courses related to my International Relations major and Public Policy certificate. My classes in Public International Law and Religious Minority Protections, as well as the insights I gained through participation in a truly international student body, allowed me to return home with a fresh outlook on law and its role on the global stage.

Back at UT, I returned to the office of State Rep. Ina Minjarez to intern as a Legislative Aide during the 86thLegislative Session. The work I completed during last year’s interim laid a firm foundation for my role in legislative research and policymaking this year. Throughout the session, I was able to navigate the legislative process by overseeing four bills through their lives in the Texas House, from filing to engrossment. I also returned to Mount Nebo, a faith-based organization that works with elementary-aged kids in the Austin area. Hanging out with my Mount Nebo gals on Thursday nights, solidifying relationships, and playing endless games of tag have been a cornerstone of my Austin experience, and I look forward to continuing with the organization next year.

This summer (2019), I’ll be traveling to Tanzania to intern for Ubongo, a local education non-profit focused on improving children’s education through accessibility and community engagement in Eastern Africa. I’ll spend a few months grant writing and completing research for the organization before traveling north to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Afterwards, I’ll return home to write my thesis and prepare for the fear-inducing yet quickly approaching future. I’m so incredibly grateful for the Dedman community’s constant support and encouragement throughout this year, and I’m pumped for the upcoming year of Monday meeting highs and lows!