Tasha McMillion spoke on behalf of her class at graduation on May 20. Below are excerpts from her speech.


Tasha McMillion (left) assists fellow graduate Cynthia Mays with her cap.


Nine months ago each one of us set out on a new journey in pursuit of education through the University of Texas Free Minds program. When we began this program we had no idea if the two nights a week from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. would work with our family and work schedule or what the course workload would be like. It didn’t matter. Whatever sacrifice we had to make in order to be in the program, we were willing to do. At this time in our lives we yearned for something more. In faith we took a step towards Free Minds with the belief that this program would provide an opportunity for education.

On August 20, 2012, we entered into a classroom setting as strangers but each coming to together for a common goal: to further our education. We came in with open minds and hearts ready to receive. After the passing of days, weeks, and months, we have not only received knowledge but life enrichment.

On this educational journey we have had the privilege to be understudies of the very best professors and instructors from the University of Texas and Austin Community College. They have imparted their gifts of knowledge, opened up our minds, and made us use and further develop our critical thinking skills. In this forum we were able to exercise the right to vocalize our opinions, share our beliefs, and ask the question Why. How often do you really get to ask that question? Through this opportunity we found power and freedom in our voice.

Being back in school has not been easy for any one of us. Several of our fellow classmates who began the program unfortunately did not make it to this point. We stand here today and say we are glad we hung in there and stayed for the long haul even at the toughest times, in school and in our personal lives. We entered the classroom on August 20, 2012, as students, and now we are a community and family.


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