September 2020 | Issue 81
In this issue, we have some introductions to make! Meet our new writing co-teacher Dr. Lydia CdeBaca-Cruz, as well as our fall alumni class. Also, read on to learn more about the many ways to connect with Free Minds in the near future!
Lydia CdeBaca-Cruz Builds Bridges Through Teaching
This fall, the Free Minds faculty welcomed our newest member, Professor Lydia CdeBaca-Cruz, as the academic writing co-teacher for our alumni course.
Lydia’s love of humanities started when she was young. The daughter of a Chicana single mother who faced obstacles in her path to college, Lydia found a sense of safety in learning. “[Because] I saw how important it was to my mom that I become independent and successful, I loved school,” Lydia said. “When my home life was difficult, I sought refuge in schoolwork, books, and journals.”
Just as books provided a path to possibility, Lydia believes her role in the classroom is about building bridges “between students’ experiences and the course outcomes, between their prior knowledge of writing and the expectations of college writing, between their communities and those of the academy, and between them and the world.”
In 2012, Lydia earned her Ph.D. in English from UT Austin where she focused on multi-ethnic American Literature, Mexican American Studies, and Native American/Indigenous Studies. A scholar of many roles and talents, she now serves as a college associate for ACC’s Ascender Program, which combines English instruction with academic counseling and community support for students who aim to transfer to a four-year university. She is also program coordinator for Mexican American Studies at ACC and has taught courses in English, Integrated Reading and Writing, and Mexican American Studies for the past thirteen years.
Through her years of writing and teaching, Lydia continually seeks inspiration in the people and places that feed her hunger to create. As she puts it, “I’m trying to be intentional about surrounding myself with writers and leveraging the tools I teach.” Lydia's desire to build creative community translates through Zoom, where she begins each lesson by asking students how they are doing. Thank you for sharing your bright light with Free Minds, Lydia!
Fall 2nd Saturday Calendar
We hope you'll join us for our upcoming Saturday morning opportunities to learn and discuss. The following events will take place once a month over Zoom.

For additional information, visit

October 10, 10:30 am - noon
Creepy Tales and Poems Read Aloud: A Halloween Spooktacular
led by Free Minds Community Liaison Dallas Klein and Free Minds Director Amelia Pace-Borah

November 14, 10:30 am - noon
The Impact of Code-Switching on Bilingual Communities
led by Belem Lopez, Assistant Professor of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at UT Austin

December 12, 10:30 am - noon
Your Personal Alchemy: How to Write a Powerful Application Essay
led by poet, entrepreneur, and Free Minds Writing Instructor Laurie Filipelli

Join Our Fall Writing Workshop!
Do you love to write? Do you want to write, but don’t know how to get started? Do you have stories to tell, but feel intimidated by the writing process?

Join us for a free 8-week online creative writing workshop!
We'll meet Tuesday nights, October 13 through December 1.

Check out our flyer to learn more.

Email for more details about the workshop and how to register.

Alumni Class Explores Identity and Community
“My cup runneth over, truly,” exclaimed Aimee Luna, ’17, as she logged in to the Zoom classroom for the first session of the semester. Luna is one of 22 students participating in our alumni class. This semester, graduates from 2012 to 2020 have bravely become Free Minds students once again, this time taking on English 1301, the foundational college writing course also known as Comp 101. Students in the group have already pioneered getting registered at ACC, handing in assignments through google drive, and forging a supportive online community along the way.
Faculty members chose the theme The Self in Community as the focus of this semester’s readings, writing assignments, and discussions. Students began the semester with a deep dive into self-exploration, including writing about their names and their motivations for writing.
In the wake of protests for racial justice and just in time for this year’s election season, these thinkers will continue to explore their identity on the page and how it can serve to empower their communities. As Alumna Rachel Rojas put it, “We, as humans, all want and desire validation. Validation looks different for all of us because all our paths are very different from one another.” This class of alumni will reflect on these paths and use the writing process to help build a world where we can all receive that validation.
As they move into the coming weeks of the semester, students look forward to philosophical discussions about belief and arguments, op-ed writing, book reviewing, and crafting a community art proposal.
Big kudos to these students who have embarked on a semester like no other. We send them forward with their own words of encouragement, which they often share in the class chat. “Don't be afraid. Be bold and try it.” And as another put it, “Spread your wings and fly! When you trust yourself and let go, you will feel freer.”
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 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 with any questions.

The updated application deadline is November 16, 2020.

Financial Aid Applications Open October 1

Don't forget: Financial aid applications for the 2021-2022 academic year open October 1. Need help completing your FAFSA or TAFSA? Schedule an appointment with College Hub. Appointments are still being conducted virtually or by phone.
The Final Word
This month, students in the Free Minds alumni class wrote about their own motivations for writing, modeled after the famous "Why I Write" essays of George Orwell and Joan Didion. Here are some of the many reasons our alumni choose to write.
“If by the remotest chance a thousand years from now my progeny prevails, I want them to know and remember me by the stories I have told--stories of their past histories which are currently my present realities.” -DeAnna Guilbeau

“I write to create a world I want to live in or expose the world I do for the faults it has. I write as two letters from the LGBTQ+ rainbow. Ultimately, I write to see the stories that I need to see.” -Vincent Hill

“Creative writing for my classes was always fun but also hard because of the gap of time between having my son and getting back into school. It took a while to get the pieces done, but boy did it feel great to read the finished product. Always a proud moment for me.” -Crystal Houston Johnson
“I have chosen to build up my self-esteem by jotting down any thoughts that come to me…I want my words and ideas to be translucent. I want the reader to be able to feel my expressions and understand my work.” -Maribel Lira
“This is how we lose our voice and our individuality—choosing to remain silent when [we] should be speaking up. In a world where we are told to sit pretty and act nice, our voices are stripped away from us, and consequently, we are changed and stripped away from our own selves.” -Alondra Sanchez
“Free writing has changed my life. Whether I’m making a list of things that are cluttering my mind or writing an eternal run-on sentence about how I'm feeling, writing is an escape from my 99 problems. Just me and my pen and paper.” -Luzvy Lima
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: Dallas Klein
F: 512-447-0288
Ph: 512-610-7961