ULN Newsletter | June 2021

ULN Director Introduction

Greetings, ULN Scholars!

My name is April Barnes and I am proud to serve as the new Director of ULN.  I met several of you already, and I am looking forward to meeting the rest of you in the near future.  As we complete an unconventional academic year that featured virtual workshops, remote experiential learning opportunities and even a snow storm in Texas, I am proud to say that you did it! The resiliency shown by all of you reflects the true Longhorn spirit. You proved that you are capable of overcoming adversity with creativity, flexibility and grit. The skills you learned over the past year will help you change the world.  As you forge your path, please know that ULN is right there with you.  Our coordinators and peer mentors are available to answer questions and offer sound advice to help ensure your success.

Spring and summer are more than just warm sunny days –– they represent a time of renewal. Some of you just completed your first year on campus, while others started the journey toward their professional career by participating in experiential learning.  Of course, I could not forget the 352 graduates honored during the ULN Spring Graduation Celebration and will enter the workforce or start professional school in a few short weeks. Whatever milestone you completed, reflect on what you accomplished and how you can apply lessons learned to your future. I encourage you to take the summer months to renew yourself and adjust your goals. Construct a personal definition of success and create a strategy to attain your objectives. Endurance appears to be the theme of 2020 and 2021, so I have no doubt that you will continue to thrive and achieve your goals.

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but turn it into glory.” – William Barclay

Hook ’em,

April Barnes, ULN Director

April Barnes' signature

April Barnes, ULN Director

Spring 2021 Events in Review

Senior Policy and Research Analyst for Excelencia in Education Janette Martinez (Texas ’12, B.A. in Government)

responds to a question during the Latinx in Leadership panel. “All the panelists were super inspiring and very passionate about their speech,” commented one student attendee.

Our ULN Scholars stayed busy virtually this spring! We offered 25 seminar courses on a variety of topics for Texas ’24 students. Participation alternated between Leadership Speaker Series and Peer Group Meetings, which focused on preparing first-year students for finding an experiential learning opportunity. In April, 150 ULN Scholars attended the Latinx in Leadership panel, which featured Texas Exes who have gone on to serve as chiefs of staffs to senators, senior policy and research analysts, lawyers and law firm owners. “I liked the extensive commentary and in-depth answers each of the successful graduates gave to the questions they were asked,” a student who attended the event shared. “Their responses really gave great insight!”

ULN Scholar Spotlights

On what she’s proudest of

I am really proud of landing my dream job. This June, I will be starting my career as a nurse resident in an oncology floor! Getting this position is everything I have wanted ever since I was a kid.

On her bright Longhorn future

I will be taking my nursing licensure exam 1 week after graduation, so I am very much looking forward to passing this exam! My goal this year is to learn and grow as a nurse and provide the best care that I can to my patients. When things are safer, I hope to travel as much as I can (with my own paycheck, finally!).

On one of his biggest recent accomplishments

I was fortunate enough to have been hired to a video game studio earlier this year. They reached out to me after seeing one of my final projects of last semester and were laid back about me still being in college for one more year. It’s been a fun few months since I joined the team and I can’t wait to see it released.

On what the future holds

I have three main goals for next year. Become a better animator, finish a cinematic miniseries, and maintain my fitness goals. After taking my first 3-D animation class this semester, I look forward to taking an advanced one. Of course, I also look forward to returning to some form of normalcy for my senior year.

On successes from the past year

For years now, I’ve been wanting to make YouTube videos where I talk to the camera, but I’ve always been too scared to put myself out there like that. Confidence is not something inherent for me –– from middle school to college, I’ve had to actively work on building my confidence up one small step at a time. Now, many steps from that shy middle school Uriel, I have built up enough courage to decide that this is the year to finally talk to the camera. While it may seem like a small feat, I am very proud that I have moved past my life-hindering fear of “what would other people think” and finally started producing the YouTube videos I want to make.

On his plans for Fall 2021

If everything goes to plan, I should be studying abroad next semester, and as someone who has barely traveled, this is extremely exciting for me! My goal is to adapt to next year’s challenges whatever those might entail, experience as much adventure as I can muster and make quality YouTube videos sharing those adventures.

On what she accomplished this past year

Something I’m really proud of is that I applied to and got accepted for an internship for a law firm in Austin this summer. This will be my first time having an internship and I am extremely proud that I was able to get one at a law firm. I also was able to get a 4.0 GPA this year.

On her plans for the future

My goal for next year is to have a successful academic year again. Go join student orgs that I am interested in. I also want to move forward with the research team I joined this year and finally get to go to the lab and learn more material. I’m looking forward to moving to Austin since I stayed home this year.

Alumni Spotlight

On her path has looked like since graduation

I primarily write music for film and commercials, and I also own a home bakery called Sweets by Jocelyn. I graduated from UT in May 2017 and moved to Los Angeles, CA in July 2018. My goal upon moving was to earn a Certificate in Film Scoring from UCLA and begin my industry career. Since moving, in addition to being a part-time student, I have held 2 jobs as a post-production assistant for Netflix shows Designated Survivor and Grand Army, transitioned to full-time film scoring, and scored multiple film projects as well as demoed for high-profile commercials. In July 2020, I relaunched Sweets by Jocelyn and have been baking gourmet cakes and pies.

On how ULN impacted her journey

ULN is one of the main reasons I was able to attend UT debt-free. It was one of two scholarships that I received — the other being the Presidential Scholarship — that together covered 80% of my education fees. I did not apply for either scholarship and was thus overjoyed when I learned I was a recipient of both. It gave me the peace to focus on my degree without the added pressure of figuring out how I would pay for it.

On what surprised her most about life after undergrad

Two things: Not being as prepared as I envisioned and making friends outside of school. I am a self-employed entrepreneur who has never entered the corporate workforce. When I graduated college, I found I had many more questions about film scoring than when I entered. While I understood classical composition, I didn’t know how I would enter/thrive in the film industry. That educational gap terrified me, and it wasn’t until I started taking courses at UCLA that the gap began to fill. I practiced my new skills immediately after learning them and, if I encountered a problem I didn’t have an answer to, I researched until the problem was resolved.

On making new friendships: I’m a born and raised Austinite so I was able to maintain many college friendships between graduation and my move to LA. However, once I moved, I found myself in the unique position of making brand new friends. I chose the unconventional — I made a profile on Bumble BFF (the friend-finder section of the dating app) and went on friend dates with many people. This decision proved immeasurably fruitful as I found two of my best friends through the app. I highly recommend Bumble BFF for anyone who is looking for friendships—everyone has the same goal in mind, and you never know when you’ll meet your best friend.

On advice for current ULN students

When you’re self-employed, you get to create and put together your own puzzle. After graduating college, I knew nothing about composing rates, business bank accounts or how to pay myself. Even after taking business courses at UCLA, many of my questions were still unanswered. A significant part of what I know now I have learned from the internet. I learned how to set up my LLC with LegalZoom. I learned how to create a business checking and savings account. I learned how to determine what percentage of money I would save for business growth, put towards regular expenses and determine my salary (Hawthorne Law on YouTube has great info on this). I learned how to set up ACH deposits so I could legally pay myself as an employee from my business account, and I even learned how to create my own paystubs so landlords would know that I am a trustworthy, earning individual they can rent to.

If there is something you don’t know or understand — self-employed or not — look it up! You have the greatest wealth of information known to humankind. Don’t stop if the answer isn’t an easy find — dig deep. Everything you experience after graduation is not for nothing. Your wins, losses, mistakes and poor decisions propel you towards the person you want to be. Not having it all figured out is a strength, not a weakness. It shows you that you are always capable of learning, regardless of if you graduated last year or 20 years ago.

Leadership Learning Moment: The Not-So-Lost Year

By Adrienne McClendon, Texas ’21 Coordinator

With the majority of our learning, professional and social interactions limited to screens, it is easy to feel like we spent the year sitting on the sidelines. And while opportunities to add to your resume such internships, job shadowing experiences, and volunteering were harder to secure, it would be hasty to write off the year as a total loss for professional development.

I believe we can find value in our experiences from this past year by approaching our reflection and meaning making from a different perspective. Instead of thinking about the year in terms of what we missed or did not do, let us reframe it terms of what we did to respond to changes to our academic, professional and social routines.

Consider the technology you have used your classes and work. Has the virtual setting required you to communicate differently? Have you solved a problem that has arisen? How do you work on a team when people are in different cities and space?

To guide this reflection, we will look at the NACE Career Readiness Competencies. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) identified eight Career Readiness Competencies to help employers and college graduates define the skills needed to successfully transition to the work place. The competencies include:

Career and Self Development
Critical Thinking
Equity and Inclusion

The following examples come from share my personal observations as well as what I learned from the Texas ’21 cohort in their reflections on remote learning.


Zoom, Webex, Skype, Teams and a whole slew of video conferencing platforms existed before March 2020 but they were not used to extent for work and school. In a matter of weeks, we became skilled in utilizing breakout rooms and sharing screens in order to adapt our regular school and work routines to a virtual environment. Audio, video and internet issues required trouble shooting solutions quickly to avoid missing lectures or meetings.

Some students reported that they increased their typing speeds as they adapted their notetaking routines from paper to computers or learned how to manipulate data in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Others utilized LinkedIn Learning to complete courses on coding languages and design applications to add to their marketable skills. Regardless of how technology changes, this experience in an online learning environment proved your ability to learn new technology incorporate technology to increase efficiency and achieve your goal.


With our interactions reduced to screens and emails, we were missing out on some non-verbal cues such facial expressions, gestures, posture and physical distance. Without the supportive context, our words, written or spoken, needed to be clear and direct. Students refined their email etiquette as most of their communication with professors, staff and supervisors was dependent on this format. It required them to demonstrate professionalism and clearly articulate their questions and needs.

As you continue your own reflection on your experience, what other NACE competencies can you identify?

There are certainly more ways to connect NACE competencies to your experience than what I shared here. I encourage you to try find other perspectives for how you make meaning of this year. Just as the pandemic required us to approach school, work and life differently, we need also need a different approach to evaluating our skills and experiences from the last 15 months.

National Association of Colleges and Employers. (n.d.) What is Career Readiness? https://www.naceweb.org/career-readiness/competencies/career-readiness-defined/