Emily Whitehurst, Class of 2011

When I applied to the Free Minds Project, I thought my learning days were over. Yet through the curriculum and direction of the faculty, I discovered that a person is never too old to learn. This past year we read a vast number of literature, plays, poems, and memoirs that got me out of my comfort zone and made me eager to read things I never thought to read before. The faculty played such an important role because they believed in us so we could believe in ourselves. All these things prepared me for my future of having — and most importantly, wanting — a higher education.

In August I will begin my education at St. Edward’s. I honestly can’t believe I am here. Not more than a year ago I had only dreams of getting a college degree. Now I see that dream in my focus and work towards it every day.

Dr. Vincent, Vice President of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT, led this year’s graduation ceremony with an awesome speech. The last thing he said as he looked over to the graduating students was, “Don’t stop.” Wow. Those two words have stayed in my mind. No matter what I do, I will not stop learning. I will continue to reach for my educational goals. That may mean taking classes at St. Edward’s or Austin Community College, attending the alumni master classes offered by Free Minds, or reading a book on a topic that interests me. No matter what I will daily strive to learn. Don’t stop!

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