Current Dedman Distinguished Scholars, 2012-2013
Below, the current Dedman Distinguished Scholars describe their experiences this academic year and their future plans.
John Russell Beaumont (Plan II and Architecture, Albuquerque High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico)
The last year has been an incredible experience, the perfect capstone to my time at the University of Texas at Austin. It is hard to believe my time here is coming to an end, but I am excited for the road ahead. I want to thank the Dedman Scholars Program for everything it has done. I can genuinely say that this program has defined college experience. My amazing peers inspire me to try harder and aim higher; Dr. Carver, Stacey Amorous, and Linda Mayhew are always supportive and encouraging; and the generous funding has enriched my experience with study abroad and research in Argentina and Chile.
I spent the fall semester working for a young and upcoming architecture firm in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the end of my trip I returned to Chile and traveled along the coast to continue research on my thesis, “The Social and Architectural Impact of Disaster Relief Housing in the 2010 Chilean Earthquake.” I interviewed victims and volunteers, saw the damage and reconstruction first hand, and learned far more than I would have without visiting. This spring I took a studio focused on homeless families led by Overland Architects of San Antonio. I was elected to lead our studio’s presentation to three members of city council outlining our findings and suggestions for Austin’s homelessness issues.
This semester I was honored with the Oglesby Traveling Fellowship through the School of Architecture. The funding will allow me to travel through Peru and Chile to do research on vernacular architecture, community initiated building practices, and their relevance to the reconstruction effort. Beyond that, I hope to remain involved in disaster relief and social justice architecture through professional architecture firms and non-profit organizations.
I want to thank the Dedman Scholar’s Program one last time; I will look back on my time at UT fondly, and I am honored to have been a part of this community. Best wishes, and I look forward to hearing about the amazing accomplishments of my fellow scholars.
Katherine J. Kling (Plan II and Anthropology, St. Agnes Academy, Houston, Texas)
My final year at UT has been a fantastic send-off. This summer I was a field assistant to UT's Dr. Rebecca Lewis in western Madagascar, an experience that proved to be the most formative and exciting one of my life. I fell in love with the country and with the Verreaux's sifaka we were studying, and was able to travel on my own and attend a conference on lemur classification and conservation before my return to the United States. After Madagascar, I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland for the fall. To echo my time in Madagascar, I was already in love with the country and its people from a former family trip, and so it was a wonderful experience to be able to live in Ireland and enjoy the "craic" as the Irish would say. During my semester I traveled extensively, exploring Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Italy and France.
With my return to UT for my final semester I have kept myself busy acting in the thriller, Deathtrap, singing in the musical, Songs for a New World, and working with the Plan II Student's Association as its Co-Vice President. I presented research on Dr. Lewis' field data from Madagascar at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists' Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee and am proud to be finishing my senior thesis, "An Analysis of Primate Conservation Education Programs: Can We Help Primates Make the Grade?" I have been selected as a College of Liberal Arts' Distinguished Graduate, one of twelve to be so honored.
Upon graduation, I will work at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando as a Conservation Education Presenter during which time I will be applying to graduate programs in primate conservation for Fall 2014. I am hoping to present my thesis research at an international conference about primate diversity and conservation in Vietnam next summer (2014) and have been offered a position to volunteer in Indonesia working with the slow loris and a conservation education program in the area. I am excited for what the future will bring, but as I can now begin to reflect back on my UT experience, I cannot repeat enough how much being a Dedman Scholar has enriched my time at the university. I have been able to explore so many opportunities while here due to the program's support. I cannot imagine going to a different school or having a better experience. Thank you.
Natalie San Luis (Plan II and Communications, John C. Hays High School, Buda, Texas)
This year I finished my course requirements in Plan II Honors, English, and Women's and Gender Studies, which included writing my honors thesis, "Livin' No Limits: Representations of Wealth and Methods of Transgression in Hip Hop Music." As part of my research, I travelled to Ithaca, New York, to visit Cornell's hip hop archives and to Seattle, Washington, to attend the EMP Pop Music Conference. I plan to continue adding to and revising my thesis after graduation in hopes of submitting it for publication and using it as a writing sample for graduate school applications.
I worked as a writing consultant at the Undergraduate Writing Center again this year. By the time I graduate, I will have consulted with over 400 undergraduate students on their assignments. I also took on the position of assistant editor of Praxis, our peer-reviewed writing center journal, for both the fall and spring editions.
My goal for the spring semester was to bolster my writing portfolio in preparation for graduation. I wrote a weekly opinion column for The Daily Texan and took a course on writing for non-profits, in which I wrote an application for a grant for Austin Clubhouse, a local mental health organization.
Michael Wham (Plan II and Computer Sciences; Home Schooled; The Woodlands, Texas)
Michael Wham is one year from graduating with degrees in Computer Science and Plan II honors. He's currently working part-time for a computer security start-up, and wants to pursue an Information Security certification in addition to his degrees. Lately, he has been helping organize on behalf of construction workers in Austin who are often denied pay and work in deadly conditions due to lax safety standards and being refused time for water-breaks. This summer, Michael plans to take classes, write on his Plan II thesis and continue working. Michael proposed to his girlfriend last November, and they plan to marry in the fall of 2014.
Elizabeth Barnes (Plan II and English; Episcopal School of Dallas; Dallas, Texas)
This year I worked as a consultant at the Undergraduate Writing Center and served as Managing Editor of UT's official Literary and Arts Journal, Analecta. In June I'll begin my internship at the Harry Ransom Center, where I'll help the Associate Direction of Exhibitions coordinate The World at War, 1914-1918. This fall I plan to add a minor in Women's and Gender Studies, resume work at the UWC, begin my thesis on race in twenty-first-century adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, and tackle the martial arts course that I've wanted since fourth grade.
Alexander Fischer (Plan II and, Rhetoric and Writing, and Philosophy; The Woodlands High School; The Woodlands, Texas)
On the cusp of completing my third year, I'm studying Plan II Honors, Rhetoric and Writing, and Philosophy, a set of majors that leaves me little time for much else. This semester I've (almost — it's not quite over yet) tackled the legendary Plan II Physics class and next fall will enter my fourth and penultimate year as a UT undergraduate.
Last fall, I directed and produced Tom Stoppard's pair of one-acts Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth with The Broccoli Project, a Plan II theatre group, and this spring I produced Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Edward Albee's The Zoo Story (a short, disturbing two-man play in which I played Peter).
Finally, I've nearly completed training for my Private Pilot's License. I started flying this January and have loved every minute. It's a special type of magic that has distracted me from my responsibilities more than once this semester! Within the next few weeks, I'll have fulfilled a lifelong dream. I have only to take my written and practical exams. I look forward to my remaining semesters at UT. From now until my graduation I plan to take as many classes as I can, whether I need them for my degree plans or not. Full steam (and full semesters) ahead!
Katherine Sinclair (Plan II and History; St. Pius X High School; Albuquerque, New Mexico)
After studying abroad in Turkey last summer in order to learn Turkish, Katie enrolled in an intermediate Turkish class along with her advanced French course. Last semester she also began working as a consultant for the Undergraduate Writing Center, where she works with writers to improve their writing skills. She has continued improving on her language skills and at has been employed by the UWC for both semesters this year. As part of the History Honors program, Katie is currently enrolled in a course to prepare writing her honors thesis next year, for which she will research a manuscript held in the HRC. This summer she plans to spend time in France to work on her French language skills.
Steven Dao (Philosophy and Liberal Arts Honors; L V Hightower High School; Missouri City, Texas)
A subspecies of Homo sapiens sapiens native to the environs of Houston, Texas. As with the elusive albino squirrel, this creature’s natural habitat can be found in certain niches on the University of Texas campus, such as the studio and control room of Texas Student Television. This creature usually can be spotted coming from computer science and philosophy courses, often with a befuddled look in trying to comprehend Kant or Descartes. (After all, it thinks, therefore it is.) On warm days, it can be encountered lounging on the South Mall with a book (or two), and on cold evenings, it is often seen playing the viola with other musically-inclined wildlife. It has also been spotted frequently at the venues of Texas Performing Arts, where it volunteers its time, most likely due to its appreciation of the arts. On an off chance, as was the case in the spring of 2013, one can observe it in the streets of Paris, where it is apparently lured by the scent of baguettes, Camembert cheese, and Chanel No 5. Current research suggests that is has an affinity for animated films, and it may migrate to the hills of Hollywood if conditions are favorable. Endangered animal; only one known to exist in the wild. For more information, please see the entry for Longhorn.
Sai Gourisankar (Plan II and Chemical Engineering; R. L. Paschal High School; Fort Worth, Texas)
In my second year at UT, I have enjoyed blurring the boundaries between the humanities and the sciences. In the fall, I took a German grammar course to complete my grasp of essential German. Then, I applied feedback control theory – from aerospace engineering – to study the U.S. economy in my Plan II Macroeconomics class. Later that winter, I stole the standard logical structure of a philosophical argument from Plan II Philosophy to write an engineering research proposal. My advisor approved the project, and now I am using X-ray scattering techniques to probe the atomic structure of gold nanoclusters for biomedical imaging applications. I aim to continue (and I hope complete) my research project this summer, when I’ll have enough time to iterate through the stages of experimentation. Between academic activities, I’ve planned social events for the Honors Dorms and gone to weekly community service projects for my Chemical Engineering honors society, ΩΧΕ.
Coleman Tharpe (Anthropology and Liberal Arts Honors; Fairhope High School; Fairhope, Alabama)
Coleman Tharpe is finishing his second year in the Liberal Arts Honors program steadily pursuing a degree in Anthropology. After spending a steamy summer in south Alabama, he touched down in Austin with a “Hollywood or bust” attitude. Volunteer roles with Texas Student Television and the Austin Film Festival strengthened his application to add a Radio-Television-Film degree in the College of Communications. His efforts were greenlit in December, and he has found his passion in moving image history and archives. After a semester helming a project to catalog and preserve two decades of festival materials at the Austin Film Festival, Coleman is primed to step into a supporting role in a year-long internship at the Harry Ransom Center starting in the fall.
Jacob Barrios (Government, Psychology, and Liberal Arts Honors; I H Kempner High School; Sugar Land, Texas)
My first year at the University of Texas has been a remarkable one. As a Government and Psychology major, I found my classes intellectually stimulating and thoroughly engaging. Outside of the classroom, I have found plenty to do. During my first semester, I became an active member of University Democrats, and participated in many of their events, from spending time encouraging and educating my fellow students about the importance of registering to vote, to rallying for causes at the capitol, to the occasional charge of phone-banking. I have also volunteered at the Micah 6 Food Pantry on Saturday mornings, distributing lunches and groceries to the homeless and less fortunate of Austin, and assisted with a fellow student’s project, called “Backpacks for Brazil,” in which we reached out to the student body for donations or gently-used backpacks to be given to elementary school children in Brazil. Over the winter break I assisted the Houston UT Admissions Center with their project that sent handwritten postcard messages to incoming students. This summer, I will be returning to Sugar Land, where I will resume a paid coaching position on a competitive recreational swim team.
I have enjoyed my first year at the University of Texas; it has been an incredible experience all-around, thanks in part to the amazing professors and other faculty I have worked with and the friends and fellow students I have had the good fortune to meet. Of course, this is made possible by the Dedman family’s generous endowment, to which I remain immensely thankful.
Macey Shay (English, History, and Liberal Arts Honors; Lovejoy High School; Lucas, Texas)
So far, my time at UT has been wonderful, and I have greatly enjoyed taking honors courses and being a student in Liberal Arts Honors. On campus, I volunteer at the Liberal Arts Honors office and am a member of the Academic Affairs Committee in the Liberal Arts Council. I also volunteer as a tutor at a local elementary school and intern at BookSpring, an early childhood literacy nonprofit. In addition, I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Dr. Carver on his research on the Earl of Rochester. This summer I will be interning at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I am so thankful for the Dedman Distinguished Scholarship and the impact it has had on my life, and I am excited for the rest of my time at the university.