Current Dedman Distinguished Scholars, 2015-2016
Below, the current Dedman Distinguished Scholars describe their experiences in the past academic year, including their academic interests and research, internships, community service work, study abroad experiences, and their future plans (as of May, 2015).
We welcome our five new Dedman Scholars as they embark on their Freshman year at UT! Please see our New Scholars page for photos and details.
Jack Cerveha (Highland Park High School, Dallas, )
Major: Plan II and Computer Science
Research: Freshman Research Initiative, Computational Evolution
Reflections, May 2015:
The past school year has been formative. As I write this, final exams and assignments are approaching. I have taken some excellent courses, in both of my majors: a poetry analysis course, a couple math courses, three computer science classes, and an interesting class in the Freshman Research Initiative called Computational Evolution in which we explored some of the patterns and phenomena that exist in the field of evolutionary biology. Instead of observing the natural world or performing laboratory tests, however, we ran complex computer simulations on the supercomputing cluster at U.T. and applied this data to real world evolutionary development. In my introductory computer science course in the fall, we ended the year with a capstone project - a fully functional search engine. This was a challenging but fulfilling endeavor, and it helped me gain real-world programming experience. I hoped that this would assist me in obtaining a technical internship over the summer, but alas, I received no such offer. A majority of the companies I interviewed with declined me with the explanation that I should have more experience, especially in the way of personal, non-coursework projects. Accordingly, I plan this summer to make some mobile applications and other projects. I also have found a couple part time jobs back home in Dallas. Again, I thank you so much for your support and belief in my abilities.
Dana Moore (MacArthur High School, San Antonio Texas)
Major: Plan II and Architecture
Leadership Activities: Texas 4000 for Cancer
Community Engagement: Volunteer, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Current Favorite Book: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Reflections, May 2015:
My first year at UT Austin has kept me happily busy. I decided to hazard a chance at Greek life, and found a home in Delta Gamma Women’s Sorority. My design and visual communications courses through the School of Architecture have taught me to appreciate the value of a sunrise, while my world literature course escorted me toward greater emotional literacy and ethical awareness. I have also become entrenched in the political and poetic aspects of hunger through my Plan II tutorial course, and am excited to apply my newfound furor for nutrition to the field of design, both graphic and architectural. I have discovered that the fields of architecture and liberal arts are identical in their simultaneous (even warring) respect for precedent and appetite for originality.
In my free time I played volleyball for the U.T. Women’s Club Team and designed and built theater sets for a student-run acting troupe called the Plan II Broccoli Project. Lastly, I was selected as a 2016 cyclist for a 501(c)(3) non-profit called Texas 4000 for Cancer, an 18-month program that raises money for cancer research and cultivates student leaders in the Austin community. The program culminates in a four thousand mile bike ride from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, to spread our three pillars of Hope, Knowledge, and Charity across the United States and Canada. Texas 4000 has shown me a world of hurt, healing, and humanism so powerful that I am already affecting change in my life and the lives of those around me. In other travel-related news, this summer I will take a break from Texas 4000 to study abroad in Rome, Italy, and dive headfirst into the structures engrained in my memory from countless architectural history lectures. In the next year, I plan to explore how graphic design in advertising affects American public health, tentatively try my hand at small-scale architectural determinism, experience the Pantheon at summer solstice, and ride a bike to Alaska. I hope my second year at the University of Texas is as exciting and engaging as my first.
Bahar Sahami (Liberty High School, Frisco, Texas)
Major: Government, International Relations and Global Studies, and Liberal Arts Honors
Current Favorite Book: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
Reflections, May 2015:
My first year at UT has been an intellectually stimulating, laugh-inducing, and altogether priceless experience with priceless individuals. As an International Relations and Global Studies and Government major, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my LAH honors courses as well as my major-related courses, including intensive Farsi and Government.
Beyond the classroom, I am an editor for the Texas Undergraduate Law Review, in which I have the pleasure of helping edit and publish our biannual law review. Our second annual review will be published and released by the start of summer. I was also inducted into the Professional Pre-Law Society, Phi Alpha Delta, and I am part of the Phi Alpha Delta Mock Trial Team. This past April, we had our first practice mock trial competition, in which I won as Defense Counsel. I’m excited for our upcoming competitions next semester as we work together in a team. Furthermore, I’ve had great opportunities for intellectual exploration, including as a Research Assistant studying the Medina Charter’s implications in conflict resolution among different societal and/or cultural groups.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know everyone better in LAH as a Freshman Representative for the Liberal Arts Honors Student Council. It was a blast to help bring everyone together through creative social events and volunteering activities. I enjoyed it so much that I’m planning to continue my involvement in LAHSC by becoming an LAH mentor for the incoming class of 2019. LAH is versatile in that there is an outlet for all hobbies and interests to share with fellow classmates. I loved every minute of LAH Music Ensemble, a group of LAH instrumentalists and vocalists who’ve come together in spirit of our love for music. We recently had our final concert of the year, in which we sang all the classics, from Queen to Disney numbers; I myself sang a vocal solo of Adele’s song, “One and Only.” In addition, I had a great time volunteering for my academic honors organization, Gamma Beta Phi, and bonding with my friends in our campus ministry, Texas InterVarsity MultiEthnic Chapter.
I’m excited to say that I’ll be a 2015-2016 Next Generation Scholar with the Strauss Center and the LBJ School of Public Affairs in the fall. I’m looking forward to not only learning about public policy and strengthening my research skills, but also working with a professor in a personal mentorship.
This summer, I’ll be off to study abroad in Dubai with the Dubai International Business School Program; I will be taking courses on international and Arabic business law and learning about local business practices, management and economics, thus applying what I learn to a research paper I am writing on international business practices. Along with other new pursuits next semester, such as volunteering as a Literacy-Coalition registered ESL teacher with Casa Marianella, I’ll have my hands full once again in the best way possible. I feel blessed to be part of this program and to have had the support necessary to aim for new experiences. I’m immensely thankful for the Dedman Scholars Program, the opportunities I’ve so far received, and the wonderful people I’ve met along the way.
Mayra Sharma (Coronado High School, El Paso, Texas)
Major: Plan II and Neuroscience
Research: Molecular recognition of protein ligand interactions and the synthesis of bioactive compounds, Freshman Research Initiative; Adolescent Development, Laboratory of Professor David Yeager
National and International Awards: ELKS National Scholars Most Valuable Student Award
Leadership Activities: Member, Polymathic Sciences Student Leadership Panel; Participant, Leadership Education and Progress
Community Engagement: Volunteer, State Hopsital; Plan II Tutor, KIPP Austin Collegiate
Current Favorite Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Reflections, May 2015:
This past year at the University of Texas at Austin has been full of learning, both inside and outside of the classroom. I have learned so much from my engaging professors, from my extraordinary peers, and from my unique experiences in this multifaceted city.
In addition to taking classes this year, I have been working in an adolescent developmental psychology lab with Dr. David Yeager. We are examining the different ways that adolescents interpret social events, and whether that has a positive or negative impact on their future. This is particularly important, because it can provide insight into how to modify social cognitions during such an influential developmental transition period. I have also been researching the molecular recognition of protein-ligand interactions and safer methods for synthesizing bioactive compounds with Dr. Stephen Martin in my Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) stream. In addition to research, I am a student panel member on the Polymathic Student Leadership Board. The Polymathic Scholars Honors Program is a relatively new honors program in the College of Natural Sciences. I enjoy having a leadership role in a growing program. My experiences with the leadership board have also sparked my interest in education policy, so I am excited to see where that will take me. I have also been a part of the Leadership and Ethics Institute’s (LEI) leadership program to discover my own personal leadership style. I am looking forward to applying all that I’ve learned throughout the next three years at the University of Texas at Austin!
This summer, I will spend a month in Honduras with the Global Medical Brigades program. There I will study sustainability programs, how they support one another, and how they contribute to a more sustainable future. I am excited to explore how this culture operates at its most fundamental level. I will also visit Europe this summer for a family trip. My dad has dreamed of visiting Switzerland since he was seven years old, and I am thrilled to see his dream come true this summer! With all the travel and new experiences, I will also be interning at a local marketing agency in El Paso, Dynamic Promotions, to explore my interests in marketing and communications. I also plan to spend some time reading and writing poetry and painting this summer (probably abstract painting, since I don’t think I’d be able to actually paint any comprehendible figures or images). I am incredibly grateful to the Dedman family for providing me with the support and opportunity to truly explore my passions!
Barrett Smith (Duke Ellington School of Arts, Washington, D.C.)
Major: Rhetoric and Writing, French, and Liberal Arts Honors
Local Awards: D.C. God Key in Writing; Poet Laureate Foundation Prize
National and International Awards: Scholastic National Best in Grade; Creativity Foundation Legacy Award
Leadership Activities: Social Justice Coordinator at UUCR; Editor, DaisyJames Magazine
Community Engagement: Volunteer, Inside Books Project; Intern, Writopia Lab
Current Favorite Book: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Reflections, May 2015:
After this my first year I am thinking about adding and/or switching to Creative Writing, English, Humanities (focusing on education policy), African American Studies and/or Chemistry. I consider myself a writer, editor, designer, teacher, and fairy - so far. I have been published in, edited, and designed many small publications and often worked with children to allow them the same experience. My goals for the future include publishing a novel, opening a school, starting a magazine, becoming secretary of education, opening a pharmaceutical company/nonprofit, and joining the circus. For now, I have become involved with several LGBTQ+ support and activism groups as well as black advocacy and civil rights groups, and am working on my static trapeze and acrobatics. Currently, I’m working on creating a cohesive, well-curated poetry chapbook, and this summer I hope to get an internship either with a small press or an educational consulting firm.
Jessica Bathea (Economics and Liberal Arts Honors Frisco High School Frisco, Texas)
Major: Economics and Liberal Arts Honors
Local Awards: High Academic Achieving Student, invited to 2015 Honors Day
Leadership Activities: President, Thinkers of Color; Mentor Shadow, Economics Peer Mentor Program
Community Engagement: Adult Basic Education at Lifeworks, Inc.
Current Favorite Books: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin and Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Reflections, May 2015:
This year, I took control of my own thinking and truly questioned the institutions in my education system and in society at large. I spent my year achieving my goals through this lens. I continued my involvement with Economics Peer Mentor Program. This has been the first year I’ve begun taking upper-division Economics, and I truly enjoy the subject. Economics has taught me that we’ll never learn everything. This has caused me to lessen the stress I have on myself, for indeed, nobody’s perfect, no matter what award, job title, or other credentials one has.
I have grown to understand just what my presence in an Economics or Liberal Arts Honors classroom means. Being a minority in gender and race, I am in a unique position to dissolve many stereotypes placed upon minorities, by doing well in my classes. I am proud to take on that responsibility.
I also made huge improvements in my musical proficiency. I wrote a song and performed at least once a week the entire Spring Semester (and would not mind showcasing my keyboard improvements one of these days!). Music is the place where I can tell the truth, and I can comfortably say that I am a better musician now than I ever have been.
The thing I’m most proud of is mobilizing my organization, Thinkers of Color. By color, I mean all the colors, of course. Every week, 8-10 students came together, and discussed issues pertaining to issues as simple as food and as complex as metaphysics. I felt like I made a difference in 8-10 lives per week, and I felt proud of that. While trying to find volunteer opportunities for the organization, I stumbled across an Adult Basic Education program at LifeWorks in Austin. I’ve been assisting literacy classes for adults, and I certainly learn more from them than they do from me.
Annie Biondi (Emery Weiner School, Houston, Texas)
Major: Plan II and Social Work
Local Awards: Camp CAMP Scholarship Recipient
Community Engagement: Best Buddies volunteer; KIPP Austin College Prep mentor; Camp CAMP counselor
Current Favorite Book: Everything Is Illuminated by Stephen Foer
Reflections, May 2015:
I have had a nice second year at U. T.! Although I unfortunately have spent this year healing from a traumatic brain injury from last summer, I have still made the most of my time. One of the highlights of my year has been participating in the Plan II/KIPP Partnership. I took a yearlong class on education reform taught by the founder of KIPP Austin Public Schools (high- performing charter schools that prepare kids from underserved communities for college), and I made weekly trips to KIPP Austin College Prep to hang out with Elizabeth, my spunky 11-year-old mentee. I am also taking harp lessons through the Butler School of Music, and I started learning Spanish. Since August, I have worked at the U.T. Climbing Wall, setting bouldering routes, supervising climbers, and teaching climbing skills classes, and I earned my official Climbing Wall Instructor certification through PCIA.
Additionally, I took children from the Helping Hands Home and the Settlement Home for Girls climbing and canoeing on various occasions throughout the year. I am a college buddy in the Best Buddies program, and I have loved spending Sundays running around with Abby, my 30-year-old buddy with special needs (always accompanied by her host of imaginary friends which include Michael Jackson, Robinson Crusoe, and Prince Eric). I also spent one weekend a month as a counselor at Camp CAMP’s respite weekends, hanging out with children and adults who have special needs while their parents took a much needed weekend break.
This past fall, I joined Texas 4000 for Cancer. So far, I have spent over 30 hours volunteering at various biking and charity events, and over the course of the next year, I will raise $4,500 to donate to cancer fighting organizations as I prepare to bike from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska, in the summer of 2016. I am so very appreciative of the Dedman family and all the opportunities their scholarship has given me.
Logan Crossley (Plano Senior High School Plano, Texas)
Major: Plan II, Government, and Radio, Television, and Film
Leadership Activities: Student Government (Bike Committee, Libraries Committee), University Filmmakers’ Alliance (Officer, 2014-15)
Community Engagement: participated in ‘Relay for Life’ walk and fundraiser benefitting the American Cancer Society
Current Favorite Book: One More Thing by B.J. Novak
Reflections, May 2015:
I find myself at the end of year two with a lot to say and a little space in which to say it. Here it goes. The word “sophomore” comes from two Greek root words, one meaning “wise” and the other “foolish.” This seems like a contradiction (wisdom and foolishness are opposites, right?), but the term was used in the classical world to describe a student who knows enough to recognize how much he does not know. In that case, I have spent the last year as the quintessential sophomore.
There have been unforgettable experiences: I slept on a cot in the West Point barracks at the Student Conference on United States Affairs, road-tripped across the American South, and got a short story published. I built a model of a national monument out of pennies, had the lion’s share of the lines in a theatrical production, and finally won an intramural soccer game. I found new movies to love, new songs to belt out in the shower, new books to read at the beach this summer, and, I daresay, I got closer to finding myself. Now I’m poised to move forward.
Good things lie ahead. This summer, I will work at FLOW Nonfiction, a production company in Austin that creates short documentaries with a focus on social issues. In August I fly to Madrid, where I will study and gallivant and soak it all in for a semester that promises to be the most remarkable one yet. When I return, completed Spanish major in tow, I plan to throw myself headfirst into film and not look back.
I’m at a pivot point in my undergraduate career, two years behind me and two years before me. I realize that it’s a game of two halves, and I’m eager to tackle the challenges to come and keep moving in the right direction. I want to thank the Dedman family, my family, my fellow scholars, and my ridiculously cool friends for supporting the journey and coming along for the ride. You guys rock.
Nicolas Gatz (Lake Travis High School, Austin, Texas)
Major: Psychology, and Spanish and Liberal Arts Honors
Research: The Johnson Center for Child Health and Development, developing treatments and therapies for individual with autism
Leadership Activities: Chair, Liberal Arts Honors Mentoring Program; LAH Mentor; Team Captain, Colleges Against Cancer’s Relay for Life
Community Engagement: U.T. Best Buddies; volunteer, Johnson Center for Child Health and Development; fundraiser, American Cancer Society
Current Favorite Book: The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran
Reflections, May 2015:
My second year at UT has proved to me that the sequel can, in fact, be better than the first. It’s been a year filled with changes. I’ve blazed a new academic trail and definitely stepped out of my comfort zone to try out some new things. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I’ve also learned that the stress of change can be taxing, but I’ve had some amazing friends to help me through it all and be there for me through sound advice, much-needed laughs, and genuine understanding.
My career aspirations veered in a different direction this year. I previously wanted to work as a doctor for people with special needs, but, after shadowing a doctor and talking to some professors, I realized that my interests more closely align with research and policy. Working as an intern and talking to people in my field of interest at the Johnson Center for Child Health and Development, a clinical research facility that focuses on autism research, has helped me to figure this out. I can’t wait to continue my coursework in psychology, and I’m excited for the abnormal psychology class I will be taking this summer.
And I’ve learned about the importance of keeping goals this past year, playing goalie in three seasons of intramural soccer. I had never played soccer before, but it has become my favorite sport. I also took a step into the world of theater, acting on-stage in Couples, a play put on by LAH’s Foot in the Door theater troupe. I played a pretty goofy role that was great for a beginner like me.
I’ll be studying abroad in Madrid this coming fall, and after the first session of summer classes is over I plan on leaving early to explore Europe on my own. Leaving the country to study abroad will be a new experience for this local-bred Austinite, but I can’t wait to be immersed in a totally new environment. None of this would be possible without the generosity of the Dedman family, and I’m incredibly thankful to them for helping to make my past two years here at Texas the best years of my life.
Michelle Guajardo (Veterans Memorial High School, Mission, Texas)
Major: Music Education & Plan II Honors
Local Awards: Dean’s Honor List, University College Scholar
Leadership Activities: Principal Clarinetist in the Hyde Park Baptist Exaltation Orchestra
Community Engagement: Clarinetist in the Williamson County Symphony Orchestra, Volunteer Instructor at Kids in a New Groove
Current Favorite Book: This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel J. Levitin
Reflections, May 2015:
Every day has been a new challenge and opportunity to grow at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m so thankful for all the people God has put in my path to contribute to my personal education! This year, I continued to pursue two degrees in four years while simultaneously getting my feet wet in reaching out to my community. This semester, I finished up my basic music courses and will move on to the upper division music courses next year. This is exciting because I will begin to teach music in primary and secondary schools around the community as part of my coursework. I auditioned and was accepted into the Williamson County Symphony Orchestra, which provides free concerts to the Williamson county community in order to cultivate a love for classical music. I also became a volunteer instructor at Kids in a New Groove, a nonprofit organization that provides free music lessons to children in foster care, where I am giving weekly half hour piano lessons to two students. In addition, I was invited to become principal clarinetist of the Hyde Park Baptist Exaltation Orchestra, where it has been an honor to help lead my church’s congregation in worship every Sunday morning.
As I continue my studies and activities in Austin, it has been confirmed to me over and over that my heart is in serving people with the talents and abilities God has given me. My future plans have been colored by this confirmation, as I hope to give the gift of music to underserved students struggling in school who otherwise would not have the opportunity to receive it in order to increase their academic achievement. That said, I was very excited when my faculty advisor in the department of Music & Human Learning, Dr. Robert Duke, offered me the opportunity to engage in research as well as visit the Los Angeles Philharmonic to observe and learn from their efforts in providing free, intensive music education to underserved students in Los Angeles.
Trevor Heise (Home Schooled, Weatherford, Texas)
Major: Plan II and Economics
National and International Awards: AP Scholar; Lockheed Martin National Merit Scholar
Leadership Activities: Head of Devlopment for UTeach Outreach; Prose editor, Analecta; Analyst, University Securities Investment Team; Vice President and Co-Founder, Honors Pre-Law Society
Community Engagement: Counselor, Camp Kesem; Volunteer, Micha 6 Food Pantry; Family Orientation Student Leader
Current Favorite Book: The Royal Game by Stefan Zweig
Reflections, May 2015:
This year has been one of challenge and opportunity. But looking back, I feel it has enlarged my interests and clarified my ambitions in a unique and powerful way. I am truly grateful for the support of the Dedman program during my time here at U.T. and am invigorated by what the future holds. I've been involved with a number of student organizations and jobs this past year. At UTeach Outreach, I oversee development and fundraising, writing the grant applications that fund summer camps and field trips for 400+ students. I've also been working with the director of Outreach to plan a more than tenfold scale-up in our course enrollment over the next 10 years. Saturday mornings I enjoy spending at Micah 6, a local food pantry. In helping to edit Analecta, a literary journal, I've continued to nurture my interest in letters. Next year I hope to expand these involvements and begin others, and to shift my focus towards research in particular. This summer I plan to teach and travel in Europe, spend quality time at home with the family, and serve as a counselor at Camp Kesem, a weeklong camp for children affected by cancer.
Shane Rowley (Lufkin High School, Lufkin, Texas)
Major: Plan II and Petroleum Engineering
Local Awards: Distinguished U.T. Scholar 2015; Dean’s Honor List, Magna Cum Laude 2014
Leadership Activities: Secretary and Treasurer, Society of Plan II Engineers
Community Engagement: KIPP Mentor, Austin Public Schools; Volunteer, Feed My People; Volunteer, St. Austin’s Church
Current Favorite Book: The Big Rich by Bryan Burrough
Reflections, May 2015:These first two years of college have been an enlightening experience on so many different levels. In addition to spending a great deal of time on my studies, I have continued to participate in numerous student organizations on campus. I am the Secretary and Treasurer for the Society of Plan II Engineers. I am also a member of the Plan II Student Association, Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the American Association of Drilling Engineers. During the fall, I was honored to be named Magna Cum Laude on the Dean’s Honor List. In the spring, I was recognized as a Distinguished College Scholar.
This school year I also had the privilege of being chosen to be a KIPP Mentor for the Austin Public School system. Plan II has a partnership with KIPP, a local system of public charter schools serving low-income students. I served as a mentor to high school juniors and advised them on the entire college application process. It was a rewarding experience. In my spare time, I was able to volunteer at Feed My People, a soup kitchen in downtown Austin sponsored by First United Methodist Church.
I am looking forward to the summer because I have been chosen by Devon Energy to be a Field Intern in Midland, Texas. This will be an exciting learning opportunity for me to work for one of the leading independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies.
I hope that my last two years at the university will be as amazing as my first two years. It has truly been an honor to be a Dedman Scholar at this prestigious university!
Jennifer Yang (Clear Springs High School, League City, Texas)
Major: English, French, Chinese, and Liberal Arts Honors,
Community Engagement: English language tutor, Lyon, France
Current Favorite Book: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Reflections, May 2015
This past year has been incredible. I've discovered Lyon, France, as a second home, and made lifelong friends from across the world. All the clichés about study abroad--that it changes you and your priorities, makes you more independent, challenges your paradigms--have all been true. I've learned enormously from living as a foreigner, both about the diversity and complexity of the world and about my own national and personal identity.
It's hard to sum up the main lesson I've learned this year, but I'll try my best: essentially, I am so young, and the world is so great and terrible and beautiful. There is so much to see, explore, and feel in our short lives. There are so many moments that remain strikingly in my memory: the pure, golden bliss I felt picnicking with my friends by the river Saône, the sudden clarity of comprehension after three frustrating months of incomprehensible lectures, and the deep shock and grief after hearing of the terrorist attack in January. I've never lived abroad before, and to have my heart slowly intertwined with this faraway place has been both an amazing and a bittersweet experience--painful in witnessing its suffering, and reluctant in my departure, but happiness for being able to be here for as long as I have.
The sum effect of this year insists that I continue my collegiate career with a deeper sense of necessary gratitude and humility. I've developed a deeper interest in post-colonialism, censorship, and the intersection between literature and social justice. This summer, I will be pursuing these interests at the PEN American Center in New York City, where I will be working full-time as an intern at the Free Expression Program. I will be helping the center with its advocacy work against government censorship of journalism and literature, by conducting research on free expression issues in the US and around the world--primarily China, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Iran, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey. I will also be responsible for communication with French and Mandarin-speaking PEN Centers, and help host foreign delegations. I greatly look forward to this summer, and hope that I will be able to learn more about the important and complex issue of modern free expression, and contribute to PEN's admirable cause.
This fall, I look forward to returning to a full schedule of courses in Austin. Some of the subjects I am particularly excited about include Modernist literature, literary and cultural theory, and Taiwanese post-colonialism. I am also fortunate enough to be taking an internship course for the Undergraduate Writing Center on campus, with Professor John Ruszkiewicz. I developed an interest in writing consultation this year while tutoring in Lyon, and hope to continue this interest at U.T.
Above all, I want to emphasize how grateful I am to the Dedman family, Liberal Arts Honors, and my friends and family for the support I've received since beginning my career at U.T. Year after year follows with opportunities, adventures, and friendships that I could never have dreamed of formerly, and that could never have occurred had I only myself to rely on. Thank you so much for everything you've so generously given me.
Jacob Barrios (Kempner High School; Sugar Land, Texas)
Major: Government, Mexican American Studies, and Liberal Arts Honors
Research: Research intern with Ben Barnes; research on state-level immigration policy with Dr. Michael Rivera
Local Awards: Led organization that received Agency of the Year from the 2015 Multicultural Student Leadership Awards
National and International Awards: U.T. delegate to Student Conference on U.S. Affairs at Westpoint, 2013
Leadership Activities: Co-director of Operations, NAIC
Community Engagement: SHARE Volunteer with UT Admissions office; volunteer at Workers' Defense Project's English-language partner night; admissions outreach through the Multicultural Engagement Center
Reflections, May 2015
I am continuing my studies as a Government and Mexican-American Studies major, with a focus on Mexican-American policy. I also enrolled in the Native American & Indigenous Studies certificate program, which complements both my MAS and government classes. This year, I started doing research under Dr. Michael Rivera, who is researching and eventually publishing a book on the influence of state-level immigration policy on immigrant communities, and will continue to assist him throughout the summer.
This past summer I held a research intern position with the Ben Barnes Group, an Austin government-affairs consultant group run by former Lt. Governor Ben Barnes. This summer, I will be studying abroad in Antigua, Guatemala, through a UT faculty-led program. In Guatemala I will be taking courses on cultural diversity in education, teaching English lessons at schools in Antigua, as well as learning Kaqchikel, a local Mayan language.
Throughout the school year, I kept myself busy by taking on a leadership role in the Native American & Indigenous Collective (NAIC), a student group that plans events and works on issues that affect native peoples in Texas, as well as native communities across the continent. Some of our organization’s highlights included hosting a fundraiser and screening a film for a travelling indigenous group from Mexico that is trying to prevent Canadian mining activity on sacred lands, creating a petition and passing a student government resolution in support of Indigenous People’s Day on campus, and hosting the 4th Annual NAIC Symposium, where we invited professors and artists/performers from across the country to share their work.
I became more involved in the Multicultural Engagement Center. Among other activities, I participated in several MEC admissions-outreach events throughout the year, where we spoke to groups of prospective freshmen and potential applicants who were mainly minority students or from low-income areas.
I also picked this year to get involved with both intramural sports and U.T. Creative Arts and Theatre. I joined an intramural soccer team with friends from Liberal Arts Honors and played guitar in Creative Arts and Theatre’s production of "Only True Millenials," a musical revue featuring the 90’s.
Macey Shay (Lovejoy High School; Lucas, Texas)
Major: English, History, and Liberal Arts Honors,
Research: I wrote my History Honors thesis this year after conducting archival research in France and Israel during the summer of 2014. My thesis is entitled: Jewish Educational Philanthropy in Comparison: The Schools of the Jewish Colonization Association and the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Argentina and Palestine, 1889-1914. I will be presenting my research in June 2015 in Poland at the Sixth Warsaw Conference for Young Jewish Studies Researchers. In addition, I have been writing a major research paper for an LAH class on the Decolonization of the British Empire. My research concerns the education policies enacted in Fiji by the British colonial government in the decade before British withdrawal from the archipelago.
Local Awards: Distinguished College Scholar (top 4 percent of students in College of Liberal Arts); Undergraduate Research Fellowship; Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies Grant (2014, 2015); Texas Hillel Student Development Fund Scholarship; Distinguished Student Award from the French Department
National & International Awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Killam-Fulbright Fellowship
Leadership Activities: Two year member of the Academic Affairs Committee on Liberal Arts Council
Community Engagement: Tutoring at local school
Current Favorite Book: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Reflections, May 2015:
Following a wonderful experience doing archival research in Israel and France last summer, I have spent this year writing my honors thesis on the schools of the Jewish Colonization Association and the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Argentina and Palestine, 1889 to 1914. It has been very fulfilling to combine my interests in the history of education, Jewish studies, and French language. I was thrilled to be invited to present my research at an international Jewish studies conference in Poland in late June. This summer, I was also selected to attend the Clements Center inaugural Maymester program at King’s College London. I look forward to learning about Britain’s historical influence on the United States’ foreign policy and geostrategy. In the fall of 2015, I will be studying at the Université de Montréal on a Killam-Fulbright Fellowship, an undergraduate award administered by Fulbright Canada. During my time in Montreal, I hope to achieve fluency in French, which I have studied for many years, most recently at the Sorbonne in Paris last summer. I also look forward to taking Canadian history and Jewish studies courses while being immersed in another culture. In the spring, I plan to continue my studies and research abroad in either France or Switzerland. I am very much looking forward to my final year as a U.T. undergraduate! I am also very grateful for the many wonderful opportunities that I have been able to pursue while at the University of Texas because of the Dedman Distinguished Scholars program.