Plan II Honors Program | College of Liberal Arts
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Student Profile: William

College of Liberal Arts

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William Cotton Hearne                                                                                          Plan II, Government,African & African Diaspora Studies                   Minor in Philosophy of Law
Jefferson Scholars Program: Core Texts & Ideas Certificate              Class of 2024


Hey there! My name is William Cotton Hearne and I am a fourth year student here at UT Austin in the College of Liberal Arts majoring in Plan II Honors, Government, and African & African Diaspora Studies (AADS). I’m from Houston Texas’s Historic Third Ward, and love how Austin captures the fast-paced city spirit I’m used to, while maintaining the calm nature-infused aura of a smaller town (There’s a little bit of something here for everybody in my opinion). Although both of my parents attended and graduated from UT I did not discover Plan II until midway through my application process; yet after attending a local information session in my city, I knew this was the program for me.

As someone on a pre-law track with a broad fascination and passion for equity, social justice, and civil rights, an interdisciplinary Honors program that would challenge and develop me as a writer, reader, and thinker, while also expanding my care-ethic capacity and empathetic world view was the perfect place for me. Plan II introduced me to the first Black professor I ever studied under (shoutout Dr. Helena Woodard, take her World Literature course . . . just trust me), as well as to a course on civic engagement, which allowed me, as a freshman, to listen to, connect with, and engage community organizers all around the city (and, at times, the nation). Beyond the early foundations of these Plan II courses, which helped stabilize my academic trajectory in the midst of the Pandemic, the Plan II program’s flexibility and compatibility with multiple majors (especially, but not exclusively, in the College of Liberal Arts) was perfect for me.

Since joining Plan II, I have had the privilege to study under the best Black Studies department in the country, and one of the nation’s most robust Government programs. Through these opportunities I have found courses, academic paths, and extracurricular engagements that conjoin my love of government/politics, with my love of writing and critical thinking, and my love of Black American and diasporic culture and identity. As you will discover when you join the Plan II program, every person you come across is deeply passionate about their interests, and oftentimes those interests come from all areas of study, campus, backgrounds, and experiences. Take me for an example; since being in Plan II I have acted in two University Theatre productions, and am currently writing my Plan II Senior Thesis as a play (in large part because of Plan II’s flexibility and its encouragement to explore my interests). These experiences have connected me to other creative writers in the programs who inhabit a variety of spaces, identities, and communities on campus. Plan II, both as a program and community, has the sort of flexibility that allows you to bring forth all of your unique interests and abilities as you grow and learn from the similarly sincere and multi-faceted individuals around you.

Plan II also provides several avenues for involvement and experience on campus, both within and outside of the program. Amongst other organizations and internships that my experience as a Plan II student has indirectly positioned me for (such as Student Government or the Black Honors Student Association), I have been a Teaching Assistant for a Plan II Freshman TC Course (take Pathways to Civic Engagement with Professor Lee Walker . . . just trust me), have served on and Co-Directed the Plan II Student Association’s Diversity Committee, and have interned with the renowned Dr. Peniel Joseph at the LBJ School of Public Policy’s Center

for the Study of Race and Democracy (a position exclusively offered to Plan II students). Beyond these experiences, the relationships, mentorships, and friendships I have built with Plan II faculty and staff have been rewarding beyond measure, even positioning me to go overseas to London, where I studied the connection and potential for coalition between Black British and Black American University students. The breadth of my experiences in Plan II are not unique to me, as there is infrastructure and a genuine desire from all members of our community to get to know you, and to find ways to support your goals, whatever they may be.

I will end with a sincere encouragement to all of you who may be considering Plan II to take that step and apply. If you are someone with a passion for change-making in your environments and exploration of your interests, then Plan II is a place where you can work directly with your administration to continue improving our community and our program, and where you can work directly with your peers and faculty to define your own journey along the way (an opportunity unlike most). Plan II is not just a program that will impact you, allow you to discover your passions, and position you to achieve your goals, but it is also a program, a community, that is dynamic and that will be positively impacted and shaped by your unique abilities, interest, and stories during your time at UT Austin. If you haven’t already, look into our virtual or in-person info sessions and other recruiting events to get a better sense of what we’re all about. I cannot speak strongly enough about the ways in which Plan II has guided my own personal formation, and I am excited to see what it will do for all of you.