Austin Future Global Leaders
DDCE Launches New Global Initiative for Middle School Students
In an effort to empower young scholars to develop a global mindset and prepare them for the global workforce, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) has launched the Austin Future Leaders Initiative for middle school students in Austin.
Starting in eighth grade, 100 participating students will receive free passports, participate in monthly workshops, and have the opportunity to study abroad during their freshman year of high school in 2020. The initiative is designed to help them develop skills in cultural proficiency, entrepreneurship, civic leadership, teambuilding and global citizenship.
A World of Discovery
Aligning with the DDCE’s focus on global leadership and social impact, the initiative aims to give underserved students access to life-altering study abroad experiences.
“Providing eighth-graders with passports allows them to see beyond their current situation, dream big and reimagine possibilities for themselves and their communities,” says Devin Walker, director of the Austin Future Leaders Initiative. “Passports are like the gift that keeps on giving.”
Students will be recruited from the local middle schools participating in the DDCE’s Neighborhood Longhorns Program, which provides educationally disadvantaged youth with the resources to build a strong academic future.
After completing the program over the course of the 8th and 9th grade, students will have the opportunity to study abroad in Beijing, China in the summer of 2020. Dovetailing with the DDCE’s undergraduate Maymester course, Social Entrepreneurship in the U.S. and China, the 10-day trip will provide a rich curriculum of experiential learning.
Since 2013, the DDCE’s Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE) has been leading biannual Maymester trips to China and South Africa, giving students the opportunity to study at world-class universities and intern at community-based organizations. In 2018, 81 students—many first-generation—went on a transformational trip to Cape Town, South Africa. More than 80 percent of the cohort were Black and Latinx undergraduates.
According to a 2017 report from the Institute of International Education, only 10 percent of U.S. college students study abroad and more than 70 percent identify as white. Leonard Moore, vice president for diversity and community engagement, has led each trip over the past six years with the goal of giving students of all racial and economic backgrounds access to study abroad opportunities.
Dr. Moore states, “Knowing how impactful these trips have been in the lives of students, many of whom are first-generation university students, I can’t wait to see the youth of Austin experience China and The Great Wall. This is exciting stuff.”
Applications for the Austin Future Global Leaders Initiative will open in fall 2018 and selected students will be awarded their passports in spring 2019. To learn more about the initiative and how you can support students going abroad, contact Devin Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making an Impact
This new initiative stems from the success of the LCAE’s signature Maymester program which gives students from diverse backgrounds a wealth of experience in academics, the working world and community service. Below are some testimonials from several students who greatly benefitted from their experiences abroad.
“I left the country and came back a completely different person. Many of my comfort zones were stretched and pushed as I experienced a new country. The knowledge I have from living in a new culture is something that I can put a price on, and I hope everyone gets a chance to experience a new country for themselves.” —Cheyenne Valdez, Marketing major
“I never imagined someone like myself, a Latino male, who comes from a town where minorities don’t travel much, would get to travel so far and be able to say I made a difference while I was abroad. After studying abroad and traveling, I feel more prepared to tackle problems that come my way!” —Antonio Banda, Arts and Entertainment Technology major