September 2017
Welcome to our e-newsletter
Minds in Motion   
Writing guru Anne Lamott described books this way: "What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds... worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you." 
Our new students are already deep into the worlds their books unfold. This month we welcome our bright group of students, as well as a new faculty member. Plus, student Gwendolyn Drake shares a poem about her origins in The Final Word.
Class of '18 Begins Nine Month Journey

Last month, the M Station classroom neared capacity as our Class of 2018 filled the room. Twenty-seven students and their kiddos joined together for the first class, among them an aspiring librarian, a army veteran and stay-at-home dad of five, an ex-alligator wrestler and several Game of Thrones enthusiasts, each joining together in the name of the humanities.

In our opening Creative Writing classes, the group was invited to describe their ideal future lives. Students shared dreams of opening writing schools and Mexican restaurants, of claw foot tubs and Jimmy Choos, of working on set with Tyler Perry. Several wrote of dreams for their kids' happiness.

For many, Free Minds represents a fresh start in education. One student, Elaine, made this promise to herself: "I will focus and place all my dedication and hard work in furthering my education, so that I can actually say the word college does exist in my vocabulary."

Another student, Shilda, hopes to set an example for her children. "Since I will be the first in my family completing college, they deserve to see what never giving up looks like," she said. Down the hall from their parents, the children of Free Minds students participate in Creative Action, a youth arts program that allows them to create their own learning community.

Through the lens of this year's theme of "Citizenship and Community: Conversations in the Humanities," students will voyage through Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Plato's Republic, Cisneros' House on Mango Street, and more. You can see our full fall syllabus here.

Welcome, Class of 2018! We look forward to journeying with you.
Expand Your Mind with 2nd Saturdays

In our world, the second Saturday of each month is sacred, filled with lively discussions on various topics led by guest experts. These 2nd Saturday events are open to all; Free Minds students and graduates, as well as friends and supporters are welcome. Events are held from 10 am to noon in our M Station classroom.

October 14      
Writing Public Tragies with Amanda Johnston, poet & co-founder of Black Poets Speak Out
November 11     
Tracing the Roots of Terrorism with Dr. David Lauderback, Professor of History, Austin Community College
December 9      
Reading Dis/Ability with Dr. Julie Minich, Professor of English and Mexican American studies, UT Austin
Child care is available onsite; a detailed calendar is available here. Bagels and coffee will be served. We hope you can join us!
Welcome New Faculty Member, Shirley Thompson
This year Dr. Shirley Thompson takes the reins as U.S. History Professor in Free Minds. For Shirley, historians are detectives, constructing stories from the past with the clues they dig up. But not all stories are told equally, and growing up as a black woman, Shirley found that most of the history she encountered in school didn't reflect the experiences of her family and community.
Working to correct that gaping blind spot, Shirley began her career as a historian. After earning her PhD from Harvard University in 2001, Shirley moved to Austin, where she has taught American and African-American Studies at UT ever since. Her first book, Exiles at Home, examines the cultural history of Creole New Orleans in the 1800s, and she currently has two book projects afoot: one will cover the black experience in Texas, and the other will examine African-American understandings of property and ownership.
At first introduction, Shirley has found the Free Minds community "vibrant, inclusive, and--energized by Helen Keller's account of learning the meaning of words and concepts--open to the power of discovery." 
Outside of the classroom, you can find her in the basketball gym watching her 12-year-old son chase his dreams.
Did you know that there are classes like Free Minds going on all around the country? Free Minds is part of a unique educational organization known as the Clemente Course in the Humanities, which provides free college courses in the Humanities to adults who have faced barriers to higher education.

Sign up here to receive quarterly updates from the Clemente Course and to read about the wonderful work happening in Clemente classrooms far and wide.
Issue 67       
In This Issue
Class of '18 Begins Nine Month Journey
Expand Your Mind with 2nd Saturdays
Welcome Shirley Thompson
The Final Word

Special Thanks
Sharing a meal before class, knowing that your kids are in a supportive learning environment--these things make focus possible. Big gratitude to those who support our students along the way:  

Nicole Cantu,
Foundation Communities

Freddy Carnes,
Creative Action

Stephanie Chavez Noell, Creative Action

Danielle Clayton,
Open Door Preschool

Alison Grabe,
Central Market

Alberto Mejia,
Creative Action

Anaelys Prieto,
Open Door Preschool

Erikka Williams,
Open Door Preschool

If you are interested in volunteering with or supporting Free Minds, you can find more information on our website

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Minds in Motion

Free Minds celebrates alum achieving Bachelor's.

The Class of 2017 shines at graduation. 

The College Hub offers Free Minds staff and students a new kind of support. 
Looking for earlier newsletters?

Visit our 
The Final Wordfinalword
Where I'm From: Current student Gwendolyn Drake shares a poem about her origins.  

I am from fading moments and Christine's smiles down as I walk by. Greatgrandma Nanny's biscuits on the table, apples warm and sweet.

I am from grassy meadows, tea parties, cherry trees full and ripe. Chicken running, feeling feed with fingers full.

I am from gardens, clothes tubs, washing, ironing, sweeping dust out on a ground where grass doesn't grow.

Peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches, clunky shoes, hair in braids, windows open second floor.

Melting crayons on hot registers.

I am from quiet moments, sweet songs made hundreds of years before I was born. Cold winters day. Sweetly, softly, head held high, knowing I can touch the stars.  
Gwendolyn is a food service manager for the Austin Independent School District, an ex-Special Olympics coach, and a mother of two.  

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: Zoƫ Fay-Stindt
Classroom Assistant: Irene Salas

Ph: 512-610-7961