American Studies (Mexican American Studies) Graduate Student
Irene Garza

Irene Garza, Eduardo Gonzalez and Dr. John McKiernan-Gonzalez

Irene Garza, her intern (Eduardo Gonzalez), and Dr. John McKiernan-Gonzalez at the American Studies Association Conference (pictured at left).

Serving as a mentor to a first-generation college student and fellow Mexican-American through the IE program has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences I've had in the last few years. I first met Eduardo while serving as a TA in an undergraduate survey course on the History of Mexican-Americans in the U.S., taught by Dr. John McKiernan-Gonzalez. We both realized how extraordinarily bright Eduardo from his consistent (and impressive) participation in class and his outstanding performance on his final paper, for which he conducted extensive archival research.

Working with Eduardo over the past semester has been a true joy and has reminded me of why I chose to enter academia: it can genuinely make a difference in a young person's life. I was fortunate to have excellent mentors when I was in undergrad who helped inspire me to pursue graduate education, with all of its rigors and sometimes, seemingly "limited" benefits. In writing Eduardo's syllabus, assisting him with the completion of his final research paper, taking him to his first national scholarly conference, or even setting up meetings with UT faculty, I too have honed my skills as the type of educator I hope to be and the type of pedagogy I hope to practice. I am certain that Eduardo will continue to seriously consider graduate education as a result of his participation in the IE. As for myself, my commitment as a scholar of color and responsibility to other similarly situated students has grown tenfold.