ULN Newsletter | Spring 2023

Director’s Letter

Greetings, ULN Scholars!

Congratulations on successfully completing another remarkable year on the Forty Acres! Your unwavering enthusiasm from the first day of class to the final moments of your exams has been truly invigorating and inspiring. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to our TX ’23 graduates as they embark on the next exciting phase of their professional journeys. May the invaluable lessons learned as ULN Scholars continue to illuminate your path, and we eagerly anticipate the remarkable achievements that lie ahead!

In the past, our ULN newsletter primarily highlighted the latest initiatives and goals from a staff perspective. However, as a student-centered scholarship program, we have decided to align our actions with our principles. With great excitement, I present to you this student edition of the ULN Newsletter, which is distinct from its predecessors. It has been meticulously crafted and designed entirely by our talented students, shedding light on what it truly means to be a ULN Scholar.

I am continuously astounded by the unwavering ambition and resolute determination exhibited by ULN students, and this year has been no exception. I invite you to immerse yourself in this new approach and wholeheartedly appreciate the remarkable creation that our students have bestowed upon us as we bid farewell to this academic year.

Hook ’em,

April Barnes' signature

April Barnes
ULN Director

Initial thoughts

This year our Peer Ambassadors (PAs) collected reflections from first-year students (TX ’26) about their experiences with ULN and The University of Texas at Austin throughout their first year here. Many students mentioned putting themselves out there to connect with others during ULN events and joining organizations on campus. These connections helped them break out of their shells and have fun.

Students mainly referenced family members or student organizations when asked whom they would thank for support in getting to where they are today. One student specifically wanted to thank TX ’26 ULN Coordinator Jamil Frech. “I thank him for his hard work and dedication to making sure that we are successful,” they said.

First-year students also built community during their one-on-one connections with PAs. They appreciated the advice received and the community they made within their peer groups.

A biology student mentioned that going to graduate school has always been a big dream for them, but they were hesitant because of financial concerns. Thanks to the advice received during peer group meetings and from their PA, they are now surer than ever that they will pursue their graduate degree after they complete their bachelor’s.

PA leadership

We also welcomed some new PAs to our team. Here’s what they said about their work experiences this year:

“I think the most memorable moments I have from being a PA this year are chatting with my mentees and hearing about all the cool stuff happening in their lives. They are so driven and want to succeed; that it is really inspiring.”

“I just remember seeing how easy it was for my mentees to interact when they were well prompted to do so. Through the use of [icebreakers], I felt like I got to know my students so much better. I saw their personalities, I saw their sense of humor, and I saw them. This also helped create a space where they were able to interact with me authentically, and I so appreciated that.”

When asked to describe in one word or phrase the work that PAs do for ULN, the new PAs said:
“A phrase I would use is ‘encouraging mentees.’ From my personal experience freshman year, my Peer Ambassador was very encouraging and shared tough experiences that he had in college that he was able to learn from. I think a lot of people have high expectations of themselves when they enter college, so it is nice to see someone that has experienced realistic struggles and not give up.”

“If I had to describe the job in one word, I would describe it as versatile. You have to be a multi-faceted person to relate to your students and to help them explore their own interests. Every mentee provides something different and wants different things out of the relationship, so you have to be ready for that.”

Congratulations, Class of ’23!

Words from graduates
O, Happy day! Graduation is here, and our scholars have made it through their journey here at UT. Many gave thanks to their family members for all the support they received from them throughout the past four years. They similarly thanked ULN for providing valuable resources and leading them in the right direction.

Graduates recalled the various ways ULN supported their future endeavors. Whether through organized workshops about different topics or their time spent with their mentors during peer group and one-on-one meetings, they described those supports as helpful and abundant.

Some words of advice graduates would like to leave behind is to “be confident in taking advantage of the opportunities and resources UT offers.”

“It is such a big campus that provides different perspectives and various opportunities to grow. Join clubs, meet new people, and make connections with professors and mentors along the way,” they said.

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ELEVATE Program Celebrates a Successful Inaugural Year

Greetings, ULN scholars! This April, we wrapped up the first year of the ELEVATE leadership program and wanted to reflect on the remarkable achievements we’ve witnessed throughout
this journey. From ULN’s first Leadership Symposium to workshops and inspiring panel discussions, students in ELEVATE demonstrated their commitment to personal growth and leadership development. Your hard work has paid off, with 111 participants attending events
and a remarkable 384 collective leadership hours completed. We honored the 15 outstanding scholars who earned Gold, Platinum, and Diamond level ELEVATE badges with well-deserved pins during the End of Year Banquet. These same students were able to attend SXSW EDU as a
token of their hard work and dedication. Students ran into Hank Green during the conference and spoke with Kendra Scott.

We look forward to continued growth and success in the years to come. Keep up the great work, ULN scholars!


Rajaram ULN Science Scholars Program: Expanding Horizons in the Bay Area!

The ten Rajaram ULN Science Scholars are heading to the Bay Area on June 3 for immersive experiential learning opportunities in biotech, MedTech, hospitals, non-profits, and more. With a focus on hands-on experiences, these scholars will engage with industry professionals and thought leaders, expanding their horizons and strengthening their skills. Stay tuned for updates on their remarkable journeys as they shape the future of scientific innovation.

Community Involvement

Once again, our students had the opportunity to interact with the Austin community through various tag-along events. In February, students viewed and discussed a video exhibition (Old Wounds, Dark Dreams) at The Christian-Green Gallery showcasing the work of contemporary artists Charles Gaines, Rodney McMillian, Cauleen Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems.

Also, the Austin community came to our students in February for our Meet the Pros: Etiquette Lunch. Students could be guided through an etiquette lunch presentation while developing networking skills with local Austin professionals.

In March, students volunteered at Sanchez Elementary’s Spring Fling. They helped give out free books, engaged students in fun activities such as cakewalks, and much more.

In April, our students and students from the College of Fine Arts Student Success Program attended a tour-de-force celebratory concert of Latinx music and opera (Bella Noche de Música) at Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park presented by Opera ATX.

Additionally, students were able to come together as a community for UTSP’s Inaugural Battle of College Success Programs. Students competed, decompressed, and took a mental health break from studying. It was a joyous day!

To end our community engagement for the year, we took a field trip. For two days, we explored other universities’ graduate school programs. We visited Baylor University, Texas State University, and Texas A&M University. We ended our community engagement activities with graduate school field trips across Texas.

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Student Led Events

At the beginning of the semester, our students got to show us what they could do. Fellow ULN scholars (Riya Patel, Luke Crawford, Lacoda Davis, and Aralyn Vasquez) spoke about leadership programs, organizations, and opportunities. These leadership programs included AISEC, an international youth leadership organization; Management Leadership for Tomorrow; and a potential ULN Study Abroad group.

At the end of the semester, one ULN student (Brianna Mattis) gathered UT Caribbean students and those interested in the Caribbean for a Caribbean Student “Sea & Study”‘ Social. To revive a UT Caribbean student group, Brianna created an opportunity for students to study, learn about Caribbean countries, eat good food, and have fun. The students recalled it as “an interactive and clever way to work in some Caribbean knowledge along with social interaction.” Many said they enjoyed the food, the study space, and the chance to try new things. Many requested more opportunities like this in the fall.


The University of Texas at Austin’s University Leadership Network (ULN) celebrates scholars’ successes for the 2023 Spring Term.