Welcome to our e-newsletter
 Minds in Motion
May 2020
Issue 79
This issue is all about our 2020 graduates. We share this tenacious group's journey through online learning and marvel at students' powerful self-portraits. Also, please encourage someone you know to apply for our upcoming Free Minds class. Happy reading and congratulations, Class of 2020!
We Did It! Class of 2020 Triumphs Online
The Class of 2020 has braved an experience like no other Free Minds cohort before them. On March 12, this close-knit group of thinkers met in person for the last time. Following Austin Community College's decision to move classes online in response to COVID-19, the group transitioned to Zoom, hurtling technology challenges while continuing the rigor of weekly readings and writing assignments.
 
The Class of 2020 handled these changes with resilience, adaptability, and humor. Missing in-person meetings, student Ebonie Trice told her classmates one night, “This is too much. I’d rather worry about parking.” Like many Free Minds students, Ebonie is a parent who also works full time. “Before COVID-19, while [my daughter] was at volleyball practice, I would go to the library and do my homework. The challenge is finding alone time,” she expressed.
 
In the midst of a turbulent semester, students, faculty, and staff worked to stay connected. Each class night ended with messages of love coming through the ether. Students signed off saying, “You guys are awesome,” “I wish I could hug everyone,” “Call me if you need anything,” and “I love you.”
 
On May 21, Free Minds students gathered over Zoom with friends and family members, program faculty, staff, and supporters for a culmination ceremony. Against backdrops of balloons and crepe paper, graduates shared quotes from the year. Cheers erupted as Academic Director Amelia Pace-Borah recognized each graduate. In a speech to fellow students, class speaker Alaa Abdulsamad remarked, “We learned together, we laughed, we ate. We cried, we sang happy birthday, we prayed for those who left us in the middle of our journey. We cried for their cries, and we wiped each other's tears.”

In an open letter to the class, Free Minds Creative Writing Professor Vivé Griffith wrote, “The thing about being unprecedented is that you set a precedent. The precedent you set, Class of 2020, is one of courage, commitment, and community. Future Free Minds classes will look to your example.” We will continue to look to your example, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for this bright and determined group.
2nd Saturday Updates
We are thrilled to share that Free Minds will continue offering virtual 2nd Saturdays throughout the summer.

Mark your calendar to join us at 10:30 am on Saturday, June 13. These sessions are discussion based and open to all. Check out our events page of our website where you can find more detailed information, including meeting information.
Photographing Our Pandemic Life
During our spring art history unit, Professor Janis Bergman-Carton focused on photography. In addition to studying the portraits of Frederick Douglass and Lorna Simpson, students had the chance to compose a self-portrait to capture their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, engaging with self-portraiture through a lens of activism and social change. Below are some of their images and accompanying descriptions.

You can view more of the students' portraits here .
Erika Olivo
Coronavirus will be remembered by our nation. It will change the way people live from now on. Will you feel comfortable shaking other people’s hands? What about giving that hug all of us desire right now? Not everyone will want to. COVID-19 has shown us what technology can do. My husband says, “You spend too much time on social media.” Yet social media is used to communicate around the globe. Churches are holding mass through Facebook Live! COVID-19 has also impacted people's education, including mine. This virus has challenged many, but our Free Minds class will rise!! 
Consuelo Lerma Amezquita Prades
The kitchen is the most important place in my home especially during this food crisis when the entire world is suffering. The television screen in the background shows hundreds of Austin cars in line receiving food from the Central Texas Food Bank. I believe God has a purpose for why he allows trials in life. He gives us the task to understand the purpose. I used a traditional front mid-shot view to capture myself and what I’m doing with my hands. This angle allowed for me to have all items displayed on the table. I added a vintage filter to enhance the look I desired. 
Applications Open for Upcoming Free Minds Class
Are you picturing yourself walking across that graduation stage next year? Or do you have someone in mind who might fit the bill? Free Minds offers a supportive year-long college course in humanities for adults with tuition, books, and support services covered at no cost to students. In these uncertain times, it's more important than ever to plan for the future. We'd love for you to apply for the Free Minds Class of 2021!

Visit our website  to apply or find out about eligibility guidelines.
Call 512-610-7961 or email freeminds@foundcom.org with any questions.

The application deadline is July 6, 2020.
The Final Word
Words from the Class: Students from the Class of 2020 reflect on their year in Free Minds
“Initially, I was terrified. I didn’t know how I would be able to juggle work, school and an active middle school kid. I had been out of school for almost a decade, and I didn’t want to fail. I am doing this for myself but also for my daughter, family, friends, and those who look like me.”

“I felt as if a huge adrenaline was running through my body the first night I sat in class for Free Minds: not knowing anyone but willing to sit there and take it all in. I was brave. I made it through. Free Minds will always be an experience I will never forget.”

  “The first thing I noticed beginning Free Minds was the discussion based nature of the classes. No question I asked was too off the wall. The professors really listened to me and seemed to value what I had to say. I remembered that I did have something to say.”

“I couldn’t feel more blessed than I have throughout the days of Free Minds. I continuously had a sense of purpose during these immensely chaotic times, and like one of our professors said, we have this unique advantage of being enrolled in courses in the humanities. It is a priceless gift to be able to think, write, and read critically at such a crucial time in our world history.”

  “Writing poetry helps me to tell my own story. Before I joined the Free Minds Class, I really thought I did not have a creative bone in my body. Now, I am happy. I might have a few.”

  “I was not sure I would make it to the summit. I am proud to say that I kept climbing and pushed myself outside my comfort zone. I have grown, as branching out often does. I feel more prepared for my walk through academia.”
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
Community Liaison: D allas Klein

Ph: 512-610-7961  F: 512-447-0288