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Student profile: Rylan

Rylan Maksoud
Plan II/Government
Class of 2021

Hi there! My name’s Rylan Maksoud and I’m a senior majoring in Plan II and Government, minoring in business and philosophy, and planning to go to law school. I’m originally from Houston, but now I can’t imagine leaving Austin. Before I attended an accepted students’ night at an alum’s house, I didn’t quite know what Plan II even was. Yet while there, I felt such a strong sense of community and belonging that I decided to enroll as soon as I walked out. That was the best decision of my life.

Most of my friends are in Plan II. Freshman year, I would wake up in the Honors Quad, walk 30 seconds to my Plan II World Literature class in the adjoining dorm, spend the morning having an intimate discussion about a reading with a dozen or so students, then walk back with everyone else that lived in the Quad. Throughout the day and evening, the common areas would be filled with people doing work and socializing. For dinner, I’d gather anyone willing on my floor, in my classes, or in the common areas to make the two minute walk to the dining hall with me. Repeated every dinner, I very quickly found myself with a 5:30pm standing dinner appointment with my still-best friends every day. The value of having a group of like-minded people take classes together, socialize together, and often live together at a university as big as UT is understated and priceless.

Just as I’ve been blown away by the Plan II community, I’ve also been blown away by our professors and courses. My freshman year, I was taught about the Cold War by one of the high-ranking U.S. national security officials during the Cold War. Before my sophomore year, I loved steak, almost exclusively ate grilled chicken, and couldn’t imagine what a philosophy class would entail. My Plan II philosophy professor’s final turned me into a strict vegetarian. My junior year, I was taught about foreign intelligence by a former chief of station CIA officer. A crucial benefit of our smaller classes is being able to better get to know these amazing people. It’s easy for us as students to take for granted the quality of our professors, but the committee (of Plan II faculty, staff, and students, including me once!) that selects professors by application surely doesn’t.

I got involved with the Plan II Students’ Association, first as academic chair, then treasurer, then president, because I just couldn’t get enough of the student community. The summer following my sophomore year, I worked as an orientation advisor and by far my favorite part was advising the incoming Plan II freshmen one-on-one all day every Tuesday and getting to meet all of them. Such varied backgrounds, intense passions, and variety of interests, all bound together by their “Plan II-ness” and drive, can’t be found elsewhere. I then spent a year working the front desk at the Plan II office, the same year that I got involved with Student Government as Housing Policy Director, after a bad experience I had with a private landlord. That same year, I was swept up in primary season again and walked my socks off knocking on doors and poll greeting voters. As a politics superfan, Austin and UT provide such an abundance of political opportunities, it’s absurd. During legislative sessions, seemingly everyone, including non-government majors, is interning at the Capitol. And at all times, the political clubs are extremely active. If you’re into politics, my big tip is to join and focus on Austin city politics. The stakes are just as high and your individual actions can effect much greater change.

Every day, I’m immensely thankful to past me for checking that box to apply to Plan II. Maybe one of these days I’ll finally perfect my elevator pitch to the inescapable “What’s Plan II?”

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    University of Texas at Austin
    305 East 23rd St
    RLP 2.102
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1250