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Message from Dr. Vincent
August 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s well-known “I Have a Dream” speech. Both were commemorated on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Several DDCE staff members and faculty fellows provided reflections on MLK’s speech which were posted to the university’s home page. The reflections remind us of the complexity of Dr. King’s speech and his foresight; of how we far we have come and of the injustice that remains.
Within the DDCE we are enthusiastically starting the academic year with renewed commitment to our work in the community and education system helping to address social justice and equity issues. We hope you will join us this year as we continue to strengthen programming throughout the educational pipeline—starting with UT Elementary School and ending here at the University of Texas at Austin—and as we collaborate with even more community partners to address community needs.
MEC Students to Ride Texas 4000 for Cancer
By Sherry Reddick, Multicultural Engagement Center
Multicultural Engagement Center students Andy Escobar and Martiza Ruiz Rodriguez will start the world’s longest charity bike ride in May. The Livestrong Texas 4000 will take Andy and Maritza from Austin to Alaska, a total of 4,500 miles, in 70 days.
They will join about 90 other UT-Austin students for this adventure, camp in alumni backyards and at designated stops, and eat lots of peanut butter sandwiches in order to raise money for cancer research.
“I’m feeling confident and nervous,” said Andy, who is a Radio-Television-Film and Latin American Studies double major. “Confident in that I have a lot of support and I know I can do great things, but also nervous. I think about the two big F’s: Fitness and Fundraising. I’ve never been physically active, and so doing this is going to be a life changing experience. I’m going to have to step up my game and get into fitness. I’ve exercised more than I have any time in my life.” Read more.
SPURS Gives Students Boost in Confidence, College Readiness
The DDCE’s Students Partnering for Undergraduate Rhetoric Success—or SPURS—does more than just provide high school students with three-hours college credit for RHE 306, the mandatory introductory rhetoric and writing course at the University of Texas at Austin. It is life-changing for many students, giving them the confidence boost they need to go on to college.
RHE 306 is designed using a “public controversy” model, where all students research, converse, and write on a single issue of public debate for an extended period of time. The students access the UT Austin curriculum online and chat with an assistant instructor assigned to their class. High school teachers deliver lesson plans as provided by DDCE staff member Eric Dieter who is the SPURS program coordinator. The assistant instructors grade the high school student assignments and provide feedback on their papers. Read more.
LCCE, GivePulse Innovate Social Network for Volunteers
Want to volunteer but don’t quite know where or how to volunteer? The Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement (LCCE) in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement can help. LCCE is partnering with GivePulse to provide an innovative social media platform that allows students, faculty, staff and community members to learn about volunteer efforts, connect with other volunteers and keep track of your time spent volunteering. By visiting https://www.givepulse.com/group/179, you can learn about the latest volunteer opportunities and sign up to volunteer.
GivePulse co-founder George Luc has been working with nonprofits for the past year to better understand the volunteer experience. He says the GivePulse platform is best explained by thinking about it as “Facebook for volunteering.” Students can friend and social network with others who are volunteering. “At the core, we want to make volunteering an even better experience,” said Luc. “As you register and volunteer for experiences, that information is tied to your volunteer profile. So if you volunteer with multiple organizations and have to complete the same information every time—here it is in one place.” Read more.
UTES Celebrates 10th Anniversary
The 10th anniversary celebration of the University of Texas Elementary School was commemorated on Aug. 21 with cake, streamers and the poignant essays of UTES contest winners. YNN Austin even came out to document the joyous occasion.
Two of the alumni essay contest winners, Fabiola Falcon and Erik Torres, spoke to the audience at the event about how attending UTES changed their lives.
“UT has encouraged me to be part of the activities at school and in my community,” Falcon said (pictured left). “No matter from where I was born or my family economic situation. They also made me think and still keep me thinking about what I want to do in life, as well as how I want to change my community into a better community, one that not just accepts certain people with high education levels or a social group. A community that will accept you because they care and appreciate your hard work that you put into that community.”
“Because of the help that I received at UTES, my life changed,” Erik Torres said (pictured right). ”I became, and still am, a successful, hard-working student. I like school and I am now learning. As a matter of fact, all of my classes are AP courses. I would like to thank Mrs. Ledbetter, Ms. Raffones, and all of the other teachers that have helped me in school and changed the way I view school. I want to thank them for being there to help me and support me. To this day all of those teachers still support me. That’s how UTES changed my life.”
Three Students Build on Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program Experience
Three students with the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program spent this summer in uncommon ways: studying abroad to conduct research on a startup community in Italy, obtaining a grant to pilot language learning lesson plans and attending a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship Program that helps students from diverse social and economic backgrounds succeed in higher education. Their stories from the summer are below.
Madeline Keulen, who worked with a mentor in the MBA program, went to Rome this summer to conduct research on entrepreneurship and the startup community in Italy with the Rome Study Program (RSP). “My goals for the program were to improve my Italian and learn more about the entrepreneurial environment in Italy. Austin has been a fantastic city to grow my interests in startups, but being here surrounded by so much support left me wondering about the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in other parts of the world,” she said.
IE/Middle Eastern Studies Pre-Grad intern Danilo Aquilo’s story is another powerful example of how IE facilitates student research (a key objective at the University of Texas at Austin) and how IE student projects often lead to additional work that will involve future IE interns and mentors. Aquilo piloted several Arabic lesson plans as part of the IE Internship with his faculty supervisor Laila Familiar. They received a $25,000 grant from Qatar Foundations International to continue their Arabic language learning project started during the IE program, and will hire several Pre Grad interns and mentors this fall to assist with the project.
IE/Public Policy Pre Grad intern and McNair Scholar Ana Laura Rivera (Government and Humanities Honors) is the first in her family to attend college. She was one of twenty students nationwide who were accepted into this summer’s Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program at Carnegie Mellon and the only student selected from the University of Texas at Austin. She credits IE with helping her learn about different policy graduate school programs.
UT Austin Launches Texas Consortium to Improve Outcomes for Male Minority Students
The Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color, a new statewide network of school districts, community colleges and public universities, officially launched this summer. Based within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin, the consortium plans to leverage the collective expertise and align existing male-focused programs among member institutions to advance research on best practices to improve educational outcomes for male students of color. The consortium will be led by Victor Sáenz, associate professor of educational administration and executive director of Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success). Read more.
PVILCA Honors Freddie Dixon
Congratulations to Rev. Freddie B. Dixon (pictured left), director of the DDCE Community Engagement Center, who was honored by the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association (PVILCA) at its 2013 Hall of Honor and Hall of Fame Banquet on July 27.
Dixon received the Lifetime Achievement Award. He was honored with seven others, including the late Dr. James L. Hill and Dr. Choquette Hamilton who is associate director for development in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department.
PVILCA preserves the history of the Prairie View Interscholastic League and all of its coaches and players.