When I was younger…
I imagined college as a place where students read out of gigantic books jammed-packed with information.
I thought writing in cursive would never go out of style.
I figured that once you hit the age of 18, you’d suddenly morph into a “grown-up” looking person.
I thought you’d leave behind your intense laughter, grand imagination and joking ways. As child, I just knew that grown-ups knew everything. That once you graduated high school you were set.
No longer would you need cookies and cards from friends in homeroom to feel loved. No longer would you need leisurely walks, pointless thoughts or playdates. We still need all that stuff as “psuedo-adults” its just a bit different in how we go about obtaining those things.
It’s Valentine’s Day!
Remember when you bought candy and Valentines Day cards for your class? For me, Valentines Day came and went. Its not really my favorite holiday but in the spirit of reliving my childhood I made cards for several of my friends. The cards were very small but the thought was what mattered. The older I get the more I believe that. It’s the thought that counts.
A few of my friends gave me a Valentine. Including my friend Lisa, who walked all the way to my class to give me cookies! Sugar cookies, the kind with delicious pink icing caked on it. Another friend, Mercedes, gave me an awesome letter and some chocolate. Polly, wrote me an encouraging poem and read to me. See, you don’t need to be in a relationship to enjoy Valentine’s Day!
- Lisa and I hanging out on Valentines Day!
Marathon Kids in the a.m.
This Saturday a big group of my friends from various organizations volunteered at a Marathon Kids event. The event was basically a field day where children of all ages could run, jog, and get medals and rewards for being active. Being around this high energy atmosphere reminded me of the days when I didn’t need a laptop, cellphone or electronic device to have fun. The days when I would roller blade in my neighborhood with country music playing in my ears. The days I long for again.
Excitement filled the air as hundreds of children ran, jogged, jumped and skipped to the finish line. I along with my friends handed out stickers, frisbees, coloring books and other goodies for the children and sometimes even their parents. It was a great bonding experience for the friends I’ve met while being involved at the University of Texas in Austin. We even got the chance to hype up the crowd by dancing to the cupid shuffle!
My friend Jocelyn and I passing out prizes!
Afterwards, we all headed to Whole Foods and let me tell you…It was heavenly. I had been wanting some mashed potatoes for a while and I finally bought some. That was my first Whole Foods experience; I will be going back!
After watching my friend Ja’Micheal perform in the University of Texas New Theatre show, River City. I longed to use my child-like creative imagination to finish the play I’ve been working on since this time last year. River City was a magnificent show and I’m not just saying that because my friend was in it. It told the story of a biracial black and white woman searching for information about her African American father after he died. Although race is a heavy topic, its one I enjoy talking about through art. Many of the plays I have written focus on interracial relationships.
Lesson #__: Never lose your childhood.
Seeing those children today made me realize, that we grow up so fast. It seems like yesterday I was sitting in my room jamming to NSync and now I’m in college. This semester I’ve been extremely busy with school and just life in general that I sometimes fail to appreciate the little things in life. Of course, money, transportation and food are important but let’s not forget that the sound of laughter is contagious, a smile is your greatest accessory and a hug can take away any pain.
My apologies for being absent for the past two weeks; however, as the title suggest, this was my first round of exams and my social life outside of books and highlighters came to a complete stop.
Black Power Movement
Last semester, I took Black Power Movement from Dr. L. Moore. It was the absolute best class I’ve ever taken at the University of Texas. I was challenged in ways that I never been challenged before. What I enjoyed the most about this class was the passion that Dr. Moore had for the subject. He honestly believed in what he was teaching.
When I came into the classroom for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. I heard testimonials and read facebook statuses from friends who had taken the class. Most of them told me that it was a life changing experience that gave students, especially those of color pride in themselves and their history.
I was not well-versed in my history and I had not delved deep into the stories and culture of my ancestors. In grade school, the only figure I really remember learning about was Martin Luther King Jr. Even those lectures were limited to the “I have a dream” speech.
I have a dream now…
Being in a class with a professor of color, learning about people of color, had a major impact on my growth as a student. Academically, I experienced one of the best semester grade point averages in my college career. I became more involved in volunteer work, extracurricular activities and more informed in random discussions on “race” with friends. The most incredible benefit of taking Black Power Movement was a confirmation of career path. After undergrad, I want to go to Graduate school to study Latinos of African Descent. I am particularly interested in the artistic performances of Black communities in Latin America. I could totally see myself being a professor; a really engaging and enthusiastic one at that! Now, I’m minoring in African and African Diaspora Studies. Two of my classes African American Theatre History and Afro-Latinos: A history and culture are classes in that department.
Back on my volunteer grind…
One of my passions is service and this semester, I am proud to say I’ve been fairly consistent at doing it (which is hard!). One week I volunteered with my friends planting trees at the park, another week at the Blind Cafe with my friend Paulina and this week I volunteered at the 26th Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights 2012. It turns out two of my friends Jordan and Lebon were hosting the event.
My favorite volunteer pursuit is translating English documents into Spanish for the Theatre Action Project.
(Below) Volunteering at the Blind Cafe ticketing table with some cool people!
This week and part of next week will mark the beginning of “midterm” or as I like to call it “mini-Hell(o)” week. My independent Spanish study passion has been interrupted with Biology flash cards. I’m not a big fan of biology and the new UT Memes page does not help my urge to procrastinate. My favorite is the Meme is the one featuring Mr. Junior of the Wendy’s in the Union.
I ended it with a UT Service Scholars meeting where we learned about the financial ins and outs of running a Non-Profit. UT Service Scholars is still in its growing stages and its something special to see the members get to know each other. One of my friends Ana Laura (Fellow UT Service Scholar) left to Washington D.C. this semester to intern in Washington. Our organization is full of amazing bright leaders.
Lesson #__: Appreciate your culture; appreciate your dreams.
This post can be summed up with one main thought. Learn about yourself. Not just your likes, dislikes and grievances but your culture and identity. Once you learn about that you will be able to appreciate others. In that appreciation, you find the confidence to go after your dreams. Don’t worry, this doesn’t happen overnight. BUT WHEN IT DOES HAPPEN…YOU WILL KNOW IT.
Happy Black History Month!
There’s a certain unexplainable thrill in discovering something new and unexplored, no? Figuratively speaking, one discovers something new about ourselves quite frequently. In particular relation to the series of events that took place yesterday afternoon during my lunch outing with some friends, the discovery in question was the crestfallen location exhibited below. At first glance it might seem slightly dull (a mundane assortment of cars and pavement), but the gray-cast sky fit much too well with this abandoned crossway for me not to claw out my camera from my bag and record some subtle moments. As of late, I’ve found that Austin provides this hidden gems of locations in abundance, so it comes to reason that I feel lucky to be at UT.
You might assume from glancing over these photos that I’m appropriately dressed for winter (hence the gargantuan military jacket), but just in case you’re never made your way south of the American mainland, I’ll inform you of the fact that here, ‘winter’ is a vast misnomer. What’s supposed to be a straight season of freeze is in fact days and days of bipolar temperatures. One day blisteringly hot, one day enjoyably cold. The humid kind, on the other hand, is what I experienced yesterday when shooting these photos, so please excuse the indifferent facial expressions I’m making- it’s simply me attempting not to trek about in annoyance (though I did smile a bit in the first photo!). Austin’s climate is something I am indeed discovering…. to be a nuisance. Unfortunately, not all of the things we discover are going to be promising. But here’s hoping they are.
The Style Inquisitor
“How is it February already?” asked my friend on Wednesday. I was fairly incredulous also. In just three months, we will have completed our sophomore year at UT. From this fact, we learn two things – 1) time flies by very quickly, and 2) we must appreciate the time we do have in college. Though February is the shortest month, it also tends to be the most productive one (yes, the theme continues). We perform a full month’s work in 29 days. Does having one or two less days really make your output more efficient? Yes, yes it does. The small difference in numbers would indicate so. Therefore, I will look to maximize my time in this slightly truncated month and continue to strive for success in my classes, my extracurriculars, and my other activities. More on these and other aspects of my life below.
- Classes: My schedule is busy and challenging this semester. My classes are definitely more rigorous, but I have found them to be enjoyable and interesting. I am enrolled in many biology courses this semester, and I love to see how material I learn in one class is related to or connects to the information in another class. To have exposure to many different areas of biology is a dynamic way to learn about the field and its multiple career opportunities. It is especially interesting to observe how the macroscopic specializations of biology overlap with the microscopic and how both inform us with a better understanding of life as whole. Because my schedule is so dense with my favorite subject, this has probably been my most exciting semester and one I continue to feel excited about.
- Professors: Not only do I have interesting courses this semester, I also have excellent professors who are more than willing to help out and ensure that their students understand every fact, every concept of the lesson. Sometimes sitting through lecture may feel tedious, but when the professor is engaging and demonstrates his or her passion for the topic, I generally have a much more positive and beneficial experience in the course, something I have already noticed myself having in the first three weeks of the spring semester.
- Events on campus: We are only a few weeks into the spring, but campus has been nothing short of lively and spirited. From showings or events on Gregory Plaza to concerts at the Bass Concert Hall, there is plenty to see and do on the Forty Acres. There are also additional lectures to attend and exhibits to visit. A lecture series that I am particularly energized about is the new Science for Change speaker series hosted by the College of Natural Sciences. The lectures will bring top minds to UT to speak about how scientists can contribute to advancements in the public sector and the nation’s need for citizen scientists to step outside of research labs or doctors’ offices and into public policy or education, for example. As a student wanting to possibly pursue a career in science policy, I am looking forward to seeing these speakers and learning how they are changing the world.
- Volunteering opportunity: A huge volunteer event coming up in a couple of weeks is Project 2012. The Project is an annual event event that began in 1999 and has since become one of the largest single-day student-run service events in Texas. UT students and the community come together to assist an Austin neighborhood in need. This year the event will take place at the Dove Springs/Onion Creek communities.
- Student organizations: In addition to classes and volunteering, I have been occupied with my student organizations and extracurricular activities, mainly Senate of College Councils and undergraduate research. In Senate, the Undergraduate Research Committee, which I chair, has recently formed the Research Student Advisory Council (RSAC) to serve as the official student advisory group within the Office of Undergraduate Research, and we are administering the $1000 Undergraduate Research Grant, planning for April’s Research Week, finalizing our Research Reception, and following up on legislation calling for the creation of a research certificate program. Nominations for the three elected positions are also taking place this week, and leadership transitions are set to occur in less than a couple of months. Our committee’s motto for this fast and furious semester is “make it count.”
Not only will my committee try to live this out, but I aim to apply the motto to my personal undertakings. So, join me in making February count. Let’s make the shortest month the most memorable. As always, thank you for reading, and hook ‘em horns!
For those of you readers who have not stepped foot on the 40 Acres and for those of you who may have graduated “back in the day” I would first like to take a second to explain to you all where The West Mall is located. The West Mall is located on the western side of the tower between the Co-op (coop, CO-OP, I’m not sure on how they prefer) and the tower itself. It starts Guadalupe Street at the enormous crosswalk and splits into two branches at the empty fountain (by the way, for the older Exes that are reading this, was that EVER a working fountain?). The boundaries are the Texas Union, Flawn Academic Center, Architecture Building, and Battle Hall.
The West Mall is where everything happens, it seems. At varying points throughout the year it is so packed full of people, you would think somebody was giving out gold coins and diamonds. The sidewalks become completely packed with various organizations begging students to join, or people so passionate about a cause that they are prepared to rob you. It becomes an area, where in the spring, Student Government, has more people yelling than a sale barn (for those of you that do not know what a sale barn is… I will tell you nothing more than you should experience it at least once). Some days it appears to be The UN, where people from all over the world come together and want to share their opinions and ideas.
For the experienced UT student, there are numerous ways to avoid being heckled, stampeded, bombarded, and lightly attacked in The West Mall. The following tactics are as follows:
1) Walk through The West Mall collecting flyers from every table and organization. Staying polite and calm. Then once you have braved the waters and made it safely across to the other side, simply throw every flyer in a recycling container. Heaven forbid you throw them all into the trash… That could cause rioting in the streets and Marshall Law to be enforced.
2) You can also politely reject the organizations opportunities. Now mind you, this may draw some strange looks from the organization members but sometimes you are just late for class. Often time, people are successful at simply rejecting the flyers with no consequence. However, it has been in my experience that some people become too passionate and will yell things back at you… My personal favorite is: “You promote the spread of HIV/AIDS?” I mean… Seriously?
3) Some people, usually the upper class men, know what they are getting themselves into and before entering The West Mall will gear up like they are heading into battle… 21st Century style. People put their headphones in (thus to simply ignore the requests), put their hands in their pockets (to avoid the flyers) and zip straight through, running over any grandma in the way.
4) Then you have people like me… who simply avoid the area in general. I mean, I know it is important when you are shopping around for an organization but once you have your fit in the puzzle… Avoid the area at all cost.
This leads me into my brief soap box. You know those pollution maps? The ones that show read areas over congested, crowded, and dirty places? Those places where you have a coal mine or I-35 at 5:00 rush hour? Well I feel as though, if you were to make a map of where paper was wasted the most… They would have to invent a color for The West Mall. Seriously. I have walked through before and literally received paper cuts from all of the flyers that are thrown at me. It is completely ridiculous. If you force a flyer on me, then I am still not going to come. Further, you just wasted how ever much money it costs to make a flyer.
Okay, I am off my soap box. Not to totally down the area… I mean, sometimes it is a very artistic area. Some of those flyers look better than anything I have ever seen in a mall. I don’t know how some people do it. One time I saw one that opened into a pop-up, where a person was holding a flyer that popped-up again, into a little flyer. Okay, maybe I made that up. Or did I? You’ll just have to go through the West Mall and see for yourself. But I must give props to those people that make the flyers, you do a great job.
With that, I feel like if you cannot find an organization on campus, then you simply aren’t looking or don’t want to join anything. I mean, I am pretty sure we have an organization for everything. I don’t understand those people that say, “there’s just not anything for me?” Excuse me? I am pretty sure we have an organization called “The Matching Socks Society”
Okay, so I made that organization up… However, just to prove my point, it is really easy to start an organization. So if you are wanting to start “The Matching Socks Society” then just let me know and I will help you.
I am not sure what point I wanted to make with this blog. I feel as though it doesn’t really have a point. I guess I just wanted to inform people on the amazement that is… THE WEST MALL. Yeah, I will go with that. It is a truly amazing experience at certain points of the year. My personal recommendations on when to visit is at the beginning of the Fall Semester and whenever Student Government decides to have elections. Those are the prime times.
I feel like there is something missing… I’m not completely sure. I am sitting in the West Mall in the time I am writing this and feel as though I am very distracted. I apologize if this blog is strangely written… Then again, I feel accomplished to know that I was able to get anything accomplished in such an energetic area.
Well, I am fixing to go look at some flyer art…
Ciao and Hook’em!
This semester is, by far, the most difficult of my undergraduate career. I’m on campus from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. almost every day, taking classes and working at the writing center and consuming enough coffee to sustain the Brazilian economy. Yet somehow, I’m not just surviving–I’m having a great time.
On the staircase of life you have to take it one step at a time. It may seem difficult and overwhelming but you must remember there are always people there to help you along the way.
Last semester, I participated in The Intellectual Pre-Graduate Internship Program with my former Spanish professor Rene’ Carrasco. Rene’ is a grad student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and one of the best mentors I’ve ever had. Every week for an entire semester we met and discussed graduate school opprotunities, Spanish language and life philosophies. He was refreshingly honest about the gradaute school life. Rene’ told me about the awesome research projects he and other gradaute students were involved in, as well as the nights and days he spent in the library researching tirelessly. It was nice to have the real lowdown on what it was like to continue education after undergrad.
The best part about the experience was that it taught me that graduate school was an option for me. As a member of an underrepresented community on UT’s campus, hearing Rene’s confidence in my intellectual ability encouraged me to work even harder last semester. It also fueled my fire for study abroad and learning other languages. Rene’ speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. At the moment, I’m working hard to be fluent in Spanish and next I will tackle Italian.
In addition to learing about gradaute school, I was introduced to new spanish terms, books and music, like blues great Muddy Waters. We talked about social justice issues and passions for changing the world. Rene’ raised the question during our first meeting: Why do I want to study Spanish/Latin America? Before I didn’t have a clear answer but now I know why.
I want to study spanish and the history of spanish speaking people of African descent because I see the language as a tool. A tool that I can use to communicate ideas of hope, passion and inspiration through theatre and perfomance to communities of color. Knowing someone’s language creates a bond forms a friendship unlike any other. Through the study of the language and history of Blacks in Latin America, I can better understand my own history as a Black American in the United States.
The IE program provided me with the opportunity to grow and learn about my strengths and weaknesses. I am now considering attending gradaute school for Latin American Studies or African Diasporic Studies (with a focus on Afro-Latinos).
Lesson #__: Talk to your professors, faculty and staff on campus. They want to help you.
Today, I met with one of my favorite faculty members Smita Ruzicka, Associate Director of GLIE. She was my supervisor my sophomore year when I interned for the Change Insitute. I meet her my freshman year during my experience as a participant of the program and was captured by how down-to-earth and caring she was. I enjoy going to her for advice or just when I need to laugh.
- Smita Ruzicka at The Change Institute 2010.
As a first year, I never thought that I would be able to ask advice of a faculty member or professor. I never thought my advisors Mark-Anthony Zuniga (Theatre and Dance) and Christine Fisher (Spanish Department) would know me by first name and not my uteid. After all, they have many other students to attend to. I never thought my first acting professor Stephen Gerald would be come such a great mentor for me. Knowing that I can go to them for advice and letters of rec (Keep that in mind!), makes UT that much more amazing. I’ve even developed a fews relationship with staff. During my Freshman year, one of the custodians in Jester, Ms. Silvia, would help me practice my Spanish. Because of her help, I did well on my oral exams in Spanish class!
“Life is like a circle. Sometimes you are on the top of the circle and sometimes you are on the bottom. When you are on the bottom don’t give up, you will be at the top of the circle again.” (Paraphrased Rene’ Carrasco quote)
I’m climbing the staircase to my future one step at a time. I can’t predict the future. I can’t even control the future but I can control today and thats all that matters. Have a wonderful semester you all!
My plans for this past weekend:
-BIO 206L analysis (spent almost 6 hours on it)
-Short programming assignment
-Homework for that same class
-Study for biochemistry exam on Tuesday
-Study for math test on Thursday
-First week volunteering at St. David’s Hospital on the northeast corner of campus
This was the first week I was really inundated with a lot of assignments. Tests have been quietly creeping upon me, and I am just now getting used to the accelerated rhythm of school (after a month-long hiatus). I have not been taking school as seriously as I should have, and the pain is slowly beginning to overtake my mind.
I was all too naive when I thought I could trim and mold my schedule in any manner I wished. Well it just so happened that my schedule left me with pockets of time between classes (I have a 1.5 hour break between biochemistry and math on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example). But rather than spending that time wisely, I have been lofting around, avoiding homework and reading for more menial chores such as naps and YouTube. As a result, I am more stressed, and my nights are spent without sleep. And the quality of my past few blogs have deteriorated drastically.
To remedy the problem, I have allocated blocks of time during these pockets on a copy of my class schedule during which I will work on assignments of a particular subject. This is only a guide; the success of the effectiveness of this ambitious move of desperation and self-discipline will hopefully correlate negatively with my overall stress levels and favorably with my hours of sleep.
The only problem arises when I fail to complete the assignments within the allotted amount of time. It is difficult to gauge the amount of time some tasks, such as programming, take. But I will try to adapt accordingly.
To all my high school friends, the first semester may seem slightly easier. But after that grace period, the fun begins to set in. You will be inundated with so much work. Not necessarily all hard, just so much to handle. And trust me, seven classes back home is not the same as five classes over here.