Welcome to our e-newsletter
 Minds in Motion
Happy New Year, friends of Free Minds! We're barreling into 2019 with lots of good news: students are earning a bonus college credit this year, beloved alum Yvonne Flores just graduated ACC, and a College Fair is on the books for February. Plus, one current student shares their perspective on immigrating to the US in the Final Word. Read on for more!
Welcome back, Class of 2019!
Yvonne Flores, Class of '14, Celebrates Graduation
When Free Minds Graduate Yvonne Cortez Flores walked into her ACC graduation in December, something caught her eye. She did a double take, spotting a huge cutout of her own face, an image taken from her Free Minds graduation five and a half years earlier. “My best friend works at a printing company,” said Yvonne. “So I actually see my face bobbing up and down in the crowd. The energy in the room was awesome.”

Raised in Austin, Yvonne loved theatre in high school. While she had the ambition to pursue acting in college, she didn’t see that as feasible. “When we graduated from high school back then, we just had to go to work,” said Yvonne. She is proudly setting a different expectation for her sons, ages 11 and 12. She tells them they’re going to college, no ifs, ands, or buts. And she sees the parallel between her love for the arts and theirs. “They’re so into guitar and trombone and choir. I love to hear them practice when they’re at home.”

With her associate degree in hand, Yvonne is moving forward. This month she will begin her BA in Organizational Leadership at Colorado State University-Global Campus, a nonprofit online school that caters to working students. So far, Yvonne appreciates the hands-on approach that her enrollment counselor has taken. “She tells me if there’s ever a time when you don’t know what you’re doing or you feel overwhelmed you need to call me, because we have so many resources, and we don’t want any of our students falling behind.”

Amidst the hubbub, Yvonne has also just been elected the new president of her local union, AFSCME 1624, where she has been active since she began working with Travis County nearly 20 years ago. “It’s overwhelming,” Yvonne shared, “but the members are like, you got this. You can handle it.” And she says that the work that she did in Free Minds prepared her for the responsibility, especially when it comes to public speaking. “The humanities help you get that human involvement into what you’re saying.” After all that she has accomplished, the year ahead offers plenty of learning opportunities, in the virtual classroom, in her family, and in her community.
All are welcome at the
Free Minds College Fair
 Monday, February 25
6:45 pm - 8:45 pm
M Station Community Room
(2906 E MLK Blvd.)

Meet representatives from local colleges
•  Get tips for college success
Complete financial aid application
with the College Hub team
Register for the Spring 2019 Writing Workshop!
Looking for a generative space and a supportive writing community? Or just want to test out the waters?

Join our upcoming workshop!
Tuesdays, Feb. 12 - Apr. 2, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
at Capital Studios, 309 East 11th St.
F acilitated by Zoë Fay-Stindt
Participation is free, but space is limited. Email zoe.fay-stindt@foundcom.org or call (512) 610-7961 for more information or to register.
Students Earn Bonus ACC Credit
A few years ago , Austin Community College introduced a new requirement for students with fewer than 12 credit hours to ensure they have the necessary tools to tackle their classes. Effective Learning 1300 covers goal-setting, time management, note-taking, as well as critical, creative, and practical thinking--all tools that Free Minds students garner through our preclass workshops, guest speakers, and other built-in curriculum.

In an attempt to give Free Minds students an extra boost, the program is working with ACC to establish that our course meets those same college readiness requirements. Dr. Matthew Daude Laurents, Free Minds philosophy professor and ACC Dean of Liberal Arts, has spearheaded this project.

"Counting our course as satisfying ACC's college-readiness requirement recognizes that Free Minds integrates deep study of the great questions in the humanities while equipping students with skills for success in college," says Laurents.

As a pilot, ACC will grant the current class exemption for this requirement in addition to the six credit hours students already earn through Free Minds. As a result, current students won't have to take on the extra course (or the extra bill) if they continue at ACC after Free Minds. This spring, ACC will review our curriculum to explore granting this additional credit to future cohorts.
Spring 2019 2nd Saturdays
We have a handful of incredible guests lined up for our spring 2nd Saturdays. As always, child care is free on-site and the bagels are plentiful. We'll meet from 10 am - noon at M Station (2906 e MLK Blvd.) in the community room above the leasing office. Join us!
The Journey to Reclaim
Saturday, February 9

with Stephanie L. Lang, program administrator for the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies at UT Austin
Abolition Means Building New Futures
Saturday, March 9

with Dr. Marisol LeBrón , assistant professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at UT Austin
Explore Your Story: Write with Michener Fellows
Saturday, April 13

with Vivé Griffith, Free Minds creative writing instructor and fellows from UT Austin's Michener Center for Writers
For details and session descriptions, see our full 2nd Saturday calendar here .
The Final Word
At our end of semester gathering in December, current students shared reflections on their Free Minds journey so far. Here is what one student read that night about immigrating to the United States and embarking on the program.
We have all had to leave something once in our life, small or large, and this is part of the growth process, although it may be painful. I have left my country, my parents and sisters, my friends and the world I knew behind.

And I have come to a new place for myself, to a new world, facing the challenges of starting anew and of creating and being part of a new community, of choosing my values and the people I want to surround myself with.

Why did I come here? I came here especially for the ideals of those who live here. I came here because a man 200 years ago fought a civil war to free the slaves, I came here because a Baptist preacher said he had a dream, I came here because I was impressed that this country had chosen an African-American president, and I dreamed to some day be here.

And although the path of immigration is not easy, and we are somehow persecuted by the current administration, I am sustained by remembering where I am, in this great and generous land.

I am sustained by the beauty of most Americans who are kind, educated, understanding, generous, human and free. I'm glad to be in a place where small dreams and big dreams can be sown and can grow... to be in the place where you can make a difference in the world, where you can help change someone else's life in another country. The moral ideals of this country have nourished my spirit and my mind in my youth and continue to do so.

Finally, Free Minds has represented for me an answer to something I was looking for when I came here. I feel privileged every Monday and Thursday to be able to sit next to such special and valuable people, with a vital and spiritual wealth that I assimilate as best I can despite my limitations with the language.

On this path I have sought the details of my spirit and have navigated the depth of my values and convictions. It has made me grow and be someone better.
A program of Foundation Communities, in partnership with The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College, Free Minds offers a two-semester college course in the humanities for Central Texas adults who want to fulfill their intellectual potential and begin a new chapter in their lives.

Free Minds Project
Foundation Communities
5900 Airport Blvd.
Austin TX, 78752

Academic Director: Amelia Pace-Borah
Program Specialist: Zoë Fay-Stindt
Classroom Assistant: Irene Salas

Ph: 512-610-7961  F: 512-447-0288