Featured Writer: Fern Viking

Fern Viking, a 2011 Free Minds graduate, joined our fall writing workshop to continue honing her creative writing skills and to meet other developing writers. “As with my Free Minds experience,” she says, “I have felt a sense of community with my classmates, a meeting of like-minded individuals who are very different from each other … Continue reading

Guest Blogger Emily Whitehurst ’11: “I Will Not Stop Learning”

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 … Continue reading

Congratulations, Free Minds graduates!

“I always wanted to go to college; I just thought that I wouldn’t be able to make the grade,” says Rachel Martinez, Free Minds ’11. But when she saw her youngest son wavering about attending college, 58-year-old Martinez decided to take the plunge herself. “My son graduated from high school on a Friday and I … Continue reading

Ending the year on a note of Hope

Hope Johnson, Free Minds ’11, spoke on behalf of her class at graduation on May 23. We published excerpts in our May newsletter. Below is the full text of Hope’s speech. Hello faculty, supporters, family and friends of this year’s graduating class of Free Minds. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you … Continue reading

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Visits Free Minds!

“I believe in the power of stories,” said author Lawrence Wright, sitting around a table with Free Minds students on March 28th. “People like me go out and collect stories, try to understand them, and frame them so others can understand.” This was his explanation for what drove him to write his Pulitzer Prize-winning history … Continue reading

Guest Blogger and Free Minds Student Rachel Martinez Discusses Lifelong Learning

I always wanted to go to college, I just thought that I wouldn’t be able to make the grade. I was absent from school a lot due to illness, and as life would have it, I stopped going to high school at the end of my junior year to establish my current occupation as a … Continue reading

Students Visit UT’s Blanton Museum of Art

On January 20, Annette Carlozzi, Deputy Director of Art & Programs at the Blanton Museum, treated Free Minds students and faculty to a tour of the American and Contemporary collections. We began with a long consideration of Teresita Fern├índez’s Stacked Waters, the 3,100 square feet of acrylic that cover the atrium walls in a striped … Continue reading

A Preview of the Spring Semester

After a month-long break, Free Minds students and faculty jumped into the new semester with a dynamic interdisciplinary class on Maxine Hong Kingston’s short story, “No Name Woman.” Each professor interpreted the story from his or her particular field of study, encouraging students to think like historians, literary scholars, rhetoricians, and creative writers. After that, … Continue reading

Meet Free Minds Student Lorena Elias

Lorena Elias is a Community Worker with the Austin Health and Human Services Department. She learned about Free Minds from a flyer her 9-year-old son, Miguel, brought home from UT Elementary School. Of all the texts she’s read in class so far, her favorite is A Midsummer Night’s Dream–not surprising, as she loves theater and … Continue reading

Free Minds at Five: Reflections from Sylvia Gale, Founding Director

Four years and one month ago, the first class of Free Minds Project students met in the community room of the Foundation Communities Vintage Creek apartment complex on Northeast Drive. For each of the 25 students, six faculty members, and two staff sitting packed in close around the seminar tables, sharing our thoughts and dreams … Continue reading