Welcome to our e-newsletter
 Minds in Motion
Before we head into holiday mania, we're looking back at this semester. Dive in to meet the fall writing workshop crew, learn about how our student Demetra spreads light in her every day, and get a peek at our upcoming get-togethers. Plus, Alondra Sanchez, Class of 2019, takes the Final Word. Enjoy!
Fall Writing Workshop Brings New Beginnings
“Sometimes when fate has flattened me with its one hard fist, only the black-and-white composition notebooks of childhood will do,” writes poet Allison Joseph. “Only those wide-ruled lines will do, those patient beginnings.”

Like Joseph, our Tuesday writers diligently filled their fresh composition notebooks each night in the M Station classroom, each week its own patient beginning. They wrote about nannying and electric vehicles, about their first cigars, tangerines, the color red. They even wrote a group op-ed, urging young voters to the polls.

Inspired by prompts that their facilitator, former Free Minds Director and current Writing Professor Vivé Griffith, brought into the room, participants explored new worlds. As Viv é put it, “From the time of our first meeting, Tuesday nights were my favorite of the week. I knew that no matter what else was going on, I’d leave the M Station classroom feeling energized and nourished and hopeful about our ability to connect, to honor, to be in community with each other.”

The feeling was mutual. On the night of the celebratory reading, workshop participants lingered after the event, reluctant to end their two-month companionship. They huddled together throughout the bookstore, snapping selfies and congratulating each other as Malvern staff put away event chairs.

One participant, Brandy Sadler, felt the workshop helped her turn a corner. Reflecting on the experience, she wrote, “I wanted to attend the workshop because I’ve always had a passion for expressing my thoughts, yet since I dropped out of school at a very early age, my lack of education left me feeling inadequate. This workshop has given me the ability to find that voice within myself again that wants and needs to be heard.”

Thank you to all of our workshop participants for sharing that voice within.

We were featured in UT's Life and Letters magazine! Read the article here .

Demetra, Class of '19, Pays It Forward
Demetra Tennison was repping Free Minds before she set foot in the program. As a health and human services counselor, Demetra referred clients to community resources. This past year, she took a closer look at Free Minds and realized she could take advantage too.
Now Demetra is almost through her first semester. On top of class, she has spent the fall adjusting to a career pivot. After working with AIDS Services of Austin for sixteen years, Demetra started a job combating maternal mortality, where she guides high risk women, often young and of color, through their pregnancies. “We work to make sure the moms are getting care right away, following what the doctor says, not missing appointments, etc., because that can make all the difference in a healthy delivery,” says Demetra.
Having been a young mom herself, Demetra felt drawn to this work. She sees herself reflected in Esperanza, the main character in The House on Mango Street which students read during the literature unit. “Esperanza couldn’t wait to get off of Mango Street. But the fortune teller reminds her to come back. Don’t forget where you come from. That was a great segue for me into thinking about paying it forward.”
Amidst so much transition, Demetra’s days are longer than ever, often pushing 13 hours. But her peers keep her coming back. When another student was having a hard time earlier this year, Demetra told her, “Don’t sweat this. The main thing is to show up. If you already had what you need, you wouldn’t be in Free Minds.”
This kind of pep talk is Demetra’s specialty. Ask anyone in the room, and they’ll tell you about her warmth and positivity. But there are limits, she assures us. To recoup, Demetra cashes in on alone time or looks to one of the motivational quotes hanging on her walls. “When I can’t take another step, I look up and think, you’ve got this, Demetra.
To make sure of it, Demetra visualizes her achievements before they happen. She can already see herself walking across the graduation stage. After that she’ll work on her book, which she says Free Minds has given her the tools to bring to life, and take at least one more class. “If it’s one class at a time, that’s okay,” she says. “I’m not on anybody’s time frame but mine. It’s all about me now.”
Upcoming Events
We have several events on the docket for December and into the new year. Join us!
2nd Saturday
Saturday, December 8
10 am - noon
M Station classroom, above the leasing office

"Live Your Virtue: Aristotle on Pursuing Excellence"
with Dr. Matthew Daude Laurents Bagels and child care provided!
End of Semester Celebration
Thurs, December 13
6:30 - 8:45 pm
M Station Learning Center,
2nd floor

Potluck celebration of our Class of 2019 as they reach the halfway mark! Bring a dish to share, and hear our students read work from the first semester.
Scholarship Workshop
with the College Hub
Saturday, January 5
10 am - noon
N. Community Financial Ctr,
5900 Airport Blvd., 2nd floor

Join our college experts to learn what scholarships are the best fit for you and how to craft powerful applications. RSVP here.
The Final Word
Alondra Sanchez, Class of 2019, reflects on what drives her toward higher education
My willpower to graduate college is supported by a powerful force: my daughter Laila. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of her face and just like that, she lights up my world. I get a sense of something bright inside of me, all around me, busting in brilliance and in symphony with the stars from a familiar galaxy. Kind of like the speed of light bouncing around inside, ricocheting throughout my soul. It can only be contained by a big, tight hug, released with a sigh filled with ear-to-ear happiness. I tell her she means the world to me, that she makes me the luckiest because I get to be her mom. I tell her she’s the reason I want all that is good and lovely in life. She gives me the strength to push forward on my goals, and whenever doubts visit me, I tell them they are nothing but guests; my love for Laila conquers them all. In silence, I feel energized to do the hard work of making my goals a reality.

When I first learned about Free Minds, I felt a million doors open up. My only wish this summer was to be granted the opportunity to go back to school, bringing me one step closer to my goal, one step closer to leaving a legacy of higher education for my daughter to follow. I was thrilled to be accepted and overwhelmed with joy to begin. I did not value my free education in high school, and my goal now is to dedicate myself to my s tudies, to take advantage of all the knowledge my professors have to offer.

I can already feel the changes. Writing essays has never been a breeze for me, and getting started is always the hardest part. But when I get the writing juices flowing, it’s therapeutic, and the finished product is rewarding. In the past few months I’ve realized I am a writer. I have my own unique ways of telling stories. I have a voice. It’s my daughter who inspires me to use it.

Alondra Sanchez describes herself as ambitious. She works two jobs, loves to explore the outdoors, and is currently learning how to make bread. She plans to earn a degree in Human Politics. Her daughter Laila already has five careers in mind--clearly, ambition runs in the family.
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