Latin American Studies Graduate Student Kristen Petros

Filemón Aldama, my IE Pre-Grad intern and I arranged regular weekly meetings throughout the fall 2006 semester. During these visits he updated me on his progress in the Pre-Grad Internship class, and we planned a variety of "shadowing" activities. For example, early on in the semester, Filemón was a visitor in my Spanish language discussion section with undergraduate students in Dr. Charles Hale's "Introduction to Anthropology of Latin America" course. Here he had an opportunity to observe firsthand some of the duties required of LLILAS graduate Teaching Assistants.

Filemón also attended one of my graduate seminars, "Borderlands History," with Dr. John McKiernan-González. Having read the assigned texts beforehand, Filemón was an active participant in our class discussion and had a very positive experience. He fit in amazingly well with the other graduate students in the class. In addition to these in-class activities, Filemón and I also communicated regularly via e-mail. He would occasionally send me lists of questions that he had about the graduate school experience, and I would send him my answers. Some of these topics included how to go about requesting letters of recommendation for grad school applications; the requirements and expectations of TA's; how to request a thesis advisor; etc. Whenever an on-campus event caught my attention, such as a Graduate School Fair or a special lecture that spoke to Filemón's personal or academic interests, I did my best to share this information with him and encouraged him to attend.

Perhaps one of the highlights of the semester was the Q&A Session in which all of the interns and graduate student mentors were present. Filemón and I both thoroughly enjoyed hearing from a variety of students and learned that many of us shared the same experiences, challenges, doubts, questions and goals as other graduate and undergraduate students at UT-Austin. I am thrilled that I had an opportunity to participate in the Pre-Grad Internship as a mentor, and only wish that such an enriching program were available to undergraduates nation-wide who were contemplating embarking on a graduate school career. Filemón and I will undoubtedly keep in touch as he begins applying to schools, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.