May 2018
Welcome to our e-newsletter
Minds in Motion  
Come celebrate with us! In this issue, we honor graduates of the Class of 2018 and student Angela Herron takes us into graduation in the final word. Also, applications for the next year's class are open, and we invite our alums to brunch. Read on!
Congratulations, Class of 2018! 

On May 22, ACC Eastview's auditorium overflowed--seats filled up, a standing room formed in the back, and people overtook the balcony. All were there to cheer a transformed group: the Free Minds Class of 2018.

We were a crew of parents, partners, co-workers, children and grandchildren, supporters, program alumni, and faculty. Surrounding us in spirit were the thinkers we spent the past year with: Sandra Cisneros , urging perseverance, Plato, guiding us in dialogue, Gwendolyn Brooks with her jazzy leadership.

Several community leaders graced our stage including ACC Provost Dr. Charles Cook, Foundation Communities' Executive Director Walter Moreau, College Hub Manager Natasha Brockington, Free Minds literature professor Dr. Pat García, and our Creative Action partners, Freddy Carnes and Stephanie Chavez-Noell, among others. Students Sandra Fernandez-Orduna and Amanda Hickey shared their original writings, which you can read here. Student and gospel singer Shilda Fresch offered an inspiring rendition of Yolanda Adams's "Never Give Up."  

With 20 graduates, this year's class was one of the largest in Free Minds history. As they step out of the classroom, many have big plans for furthering their education, working towards career goals, and supporting their children's education. Regardless of what those goals are, they're running towards them with open arms.

As Irene Salas, Free Minds graduate, classroom assistant, and this year's congratulatory speaker put it, "Be relentless in your pursuit of goals and dreams, for it is not the situations that change your belief, but belief in yourself that will change the situation."

For each graduate who has faced barriers on their path to higher education, know that you have now shattered those walls. Go barreling into your next adventure with clear eyes, an extended Free Minds family, and an army of your favorite writers, your toolbelt fuller than ever.
Apply NOW for the  
Free Minds Class of 2019!
Don't put your education on hold any longer. If you or someone you know is looking for a way back into the classroom, apply for the 2018-19 academic year or share the application with a friend.

To apply online or learn more, visit our website or call 512-610-7961.

Applications are due July 6, 2018.
Clemente Directors Gather at Bard 
This month, Free Minds Academic Director Amelia Pace-Borah travelled to Bard College to participate in a three day meeting of Clemente-affiliated directors and faculty from around the country. Situated along the lush Hudson Valley, Bard is home to the Clemente Course in Humanities, a network of college-level humanities classes for people living in economic distress. Austin-grown Free Minds is an affiliate of the Clemente Course, built on the model that its founder Earl Shorris created in the mid-90s.
While at Bard, program directors and faculty, as well as Clemente staff and board members, explored a range of topics: curricular goals, new initiatives and partnerships, how to measure the impact of these courses on students and their families. "Each program has its own unique set-up and culture. This gathering is a wonderful chance to connect and see how we can borrow best practices from one another," remarked Amelia. Another function of the annual meeting is to share knowledge with burgeoning courses. Alongside attendees from well-established programs in places like LA, Charleston, Dorchester, and Chicago, were participants seeking to build new Clemente courses in their cities. (Look out, Atlanta!)
Want to keep up with the Clemente Course? Sign up here to receive a quarterly update filled with student stories, faculty profiles, and the latest news.
Free Minds Reunion Brunch

Is there anything better than sharing brunch with good people?
Free Minds graduates, faculty, family members, and program supporters are invited to join us Saturday, June 23 from 10 am-12 pm for our annual Alumni Reunion. We'll eat, share books, and hang out. This year's reunion will be held at Lifework's Multipurpose Room (835 N Pleasant Valley Road).  
Please bring brunch items to share and any books you'd like to contribute to our book exchange.To RSVP, email  
Issue 71             
In This Issue
Congratulations Class of 2018
Free Minds Applications Open
Clemente Directors Gather at Bard
Reunion Brunch
The Final Word

Special Thanks

At the close of another academic year, we  celebrate our tireless faculty, who bring joy, rigor, and accessibility to the Free Minds classroom: 

Dr. Janis Bergman-Carton
Art History, 
Southern Methodist University

Dr. Matthew Daude Laurents
Austin Community College
Dr. Patricia García
UT Austin

Vivé Griffith, MFA 
Faculty Lead, Creative Writing, 
Austin Community College
Amelia Pace-Borah, MA 
Analytic Writing

Dr. Shirley Thompson
History, UT Austin

If you are interested in volunteering with or supporting Free Minds, you can find out more

Join Our Mailing List

Minds in Motion

A peek inside our spring writing workshop and the Creative Action classroom.

Spring semester kicks off!
Class of 2018 Lidia Simmons shares her tips for success.

Welcome to the Class of 2018!

Looking for earlier newsletters?

Visit our
The Final Word
Selected by her classmates to speak at graduation, Angela Herron had a message for her fellow graduates: Don't stop.

If I were to rewind back nine months, each student here had a thought that brought them to this program, to this very moment. For some of us it was proving to our families that you can go back to school at any age. For others, it was completing a lifelong personal goal we had set years ago.  
For me acceptance into the program caused excitement. More than anything I was proud and overjoyed for the opportunity to participate in Free Minds. As quick as the wind changes directions, my thoughts of pride and joy were blown away. They were exchanged with negative contrary thoughts, and I questioned if I belonged in the Free Minds program.  
I had never had the "college experience" and the idea frightened me, like a kindergartener's first day of school. My prayer was, "Lord, bring people into my life that will cause me to have new experiences; to help me grow and discover new things, new ideas, a new me. Allow me to be open-minded to the challenges ahead. Remove the doubts and fears as I embark on this new adventure."  
The completion of this program is the culmination of all that we have worked towards. I firmly believe that my journey with Free Minds has made me a stronger person. I realize that anything worth having will challenge you. With perseverance, dedication, and resiliency I have made my Free Minds experience one of a kind. My Free Minds community serves as a foundation for my inspiration to continue in my education regardless of the barriers.  
There's a quote that says, "It does not matter how slow you go just as long as you don't stop". That is what the Free Minds experience has showed me. Sounds like something Irene has told all of us a time or two.
Angela Herron describes herself as a "volunteer, mentor, volleyball coach, presenter, mother, yaya, sister, daughter, aunt, and caregiver to many." Starting this summer, she plans to pursue a degree in management at ACC.  

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