EMILY VAN DUYN:
I'd like to introduce you to two current students who began their experience of working together through one of the University's many mentoring opportunities, The Intellectual Entrepreneurship program.
Manuel Aviles Santiago is a graduate student from Puerto Rico in the Department of Radio, Television and Film, and Ashley Garcia is an undergraduate student with a double major in Latin American Studies and Radio, Television and Film.
Their stories may give you an idea or two about how you can get involved.
Please welcome Manu and Ashley.
MANUEL AVILES-SANTIAGO, ASHLEY GARCIA:
BOTH: Good evening.
Ten years ago, I was an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico trying to find a way to pay for graduate school. I almost gave up on my dream when a former professor pulled me out of line. He gave me an application for the doctoral program in Radio-TV-Film at The University of Texas at Austin. In minutes, he changed my life. To this day, he is a trusted advisor and mentor.
Ten years ago, in the small border town of Roma, Texas, I was in my sixth grade English class dreaming about a future as a fiction writer. My teacher promised I could achieve my goals if I worked hard. I was skeptical. I knew I would face challenges as a first generation Latina who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley. Still, inspirational educators and the unconditional support of my family brought me to where I'm standing today.
Ashley and I met when I was Teaching Assistant for the course, "U.S. Latinos and the Media." She had intellectual curiosity. I saw in her a promising scholar. I wanted to be her mentor and encourage her as my faculty mentor encouraged me.
As a senior majoring in Radio-Television-Film and Latin American Studies, I want to do more than be a screenwriter or film producer. With my mentor, Manu, I decided to find out about graduate school. By talking with him and watching him work on projects, I learned it takes an open mind and discipline to accomplish a goal.
Thanks to UT and the mentorship program we belong to, Ashley and I attended the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in New Orleans. My goal was for Ashley to experience a community of scholars - people with similar interests and passions. She did and she's ready to make a difference and share what UT has given her with the world.
For all of you, tonight marks the beginning of your journey. In these four years, you will learn valuable lessons in and out of the classroom. You will meet professors and mentors to help you evaluate your interests and transform them into ideas and concepts to make you better scholars and human beings.
Take advantage of every opportunity UT offers: study abroad, do research, take internships, apply to fellowships, keep office hours with your professors, join study groups. Do it all! Longhorns, we wish you the best at UT. Work hard and reach the stars.
Remember, what starts here changes the world. Hook 'em!