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!