Upon entering college I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer, but had no idea how to navigate that journey. Honestly, all I cared about was being accepted to UT. I wasn’t aware of what it meant to be an Undergraduate Studies student at the time, but I did believe that this school was more tailored to my success and development as an underclassman than any of the others I listed on my Apply Texas application.
I believed that being a government major was the best route to prepare me to pursue a career in law, so after my first two semesters in UGS, I declared government as a major. Having earned half of the core requirement hours for government prior to freshman year, I believed that I was prepared to dive right into the depths.
After a few government courses, I realized that this could not be my life for the next couple years, so I took an introductory ethnic studies course (AFR 301). This course allowed me to explore history from a more relative and inclusionary perspective. The African Diaspora—from an academic viewpoint—is one that is largely untapped by society, and especially absent in the overwhelmingly white, patriarchal structure of the U.S. education model. Therefore, my familiarity with black studies ideology was very limited.
The only road bump I encountered was deciding to defer the declaration of African & African Diaspora studies as my major for fear that I wouldn’t find a job after graduation. Over the past few years I have matured and become more comfortable with veering away from the common career paths traveled by many professionals. NaKeenya Haynes (alumna and former faculty member) helped to finalize my decision to declare AADS as my major.
Studying African & African Diaspora Studies
Not only do we critically analyze the ways in which societal structure, policies, laws, culture, etc. have influenced our lives historically, but we share the rich and abundant knowledge that we receive with others who may never encounter black studies and highlight the contributions of black people to the fabric of this nation and world.
The most fascinating aspect about my major is the diaspora. As a young AADS major, I enjoyed learning the terminology and ideologies used in our courses and how these translate to the ways in which I was socialized while growing up. What was even more surprising was that this was a shared experience by other classmates who grew up in completely different environments.
Most Rewarding Class
Black Power Movement (HIS 317L) with professor Leonard Moore was the most rewarding class I took. Although the class primarily focuses on a specific time in history, it empowered me as a black student on this predominately white campus in the heart of Texas to do and say what I actually felt and to pursue what genuinely interested me.
Favorite Study Spot: Malcolm X Lounge
Every club and student organization that I have been involved with over the past four years has allowed me to grow as a person and leader. These organizations are devoted to the celebration of diversity and liberation of all peoples from society’s oppression. I am the outgoing president of the Black Student Alliance, past director of Innervisions Gospel Choir, outgoing secretary for the Big XII Council on Black Student Government, and former College of Liberal Arts representative for UT Student Government.
I conducted research while studying abroad in Bluefields, Nicaragua and focused on the struggles faced by Afro-descended indigenous people in acquiring their land rights and titles.
I interned for the Creole Indigenous Government in Bluefields, Nicaragua and the African American Youth Harvest Foundation in Austin, Texas.
I will join the Teach for America Corps in Chicago to serve and change the lives of children and low-income communities. I will be working to eliminate injustice and education inequality with the hopes of entering law school after my tenure as a teacher in the Chicago and NW Indiana area.
UGS Experience and Advice for Undecided Students
The School of Undergraduate Studies allowed me to explore what it is that actually interested me. My advisor, Sarah McKay, encouraged me to pursue an area of study that I would love and not just tolerate. The decision to actually do so has enriched my life in so many different ways, and for that, I appreciate UGS. It’s a gateway to numerous possibilities.
Dream big and do not be confined by the box that society has set up for you to inhabit.