Higher Education Pre Grad Intern Nathan Bunch

Nathan Bunch Sense of Self

When I was 13 years old my mom bought me a 4" x 6" sign that said "Always stand for what you believe in, even if you stand alone." I hung it on the back of my bedroom door of our apartment, and I've hung it on the back of every bedroom door I've had since. It has been the first thing I see when I wake up, and one of the last things I see when I go to bed for about 9 years now, and it has served as my life's mantra. My life's experiences have shown me that one of the key factors to standing up for what you believe in, and making a change, is the level of education or personal understanding you have for the world around you. Education is a word that means a lot of different things for very diverse groups of people. It can be seen as a privilege, a right, a necessity, an indicator of class, and so many more things. I was born in El Paso, Texas to separated parents. My father's traditional Mexican family all lived in El Paso, and my mom's all lived in Tennessee. I spent the majority of my youth moving back and forth between major cities in Texas; from El Paso and to now finally Austin. My experiences across Texas have shown me that a person's perception of education is not completely defined by their geographic location, gender, race, sexual orientation, or any sort of identity. While they undoubtedly play a large role in their thoughts on education, I am a firm believer that the way a person views education depends on their innermost drive to better themselves, a personal dedication to serving themselves and their community.

I came into the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program with the expectation that I would gain a significant amount of knowledge about the process of applying to graduate schools as well as more specifically. In formally setting up a relationship with my mentor, Rian Carkhum, I learned a lot about how exactly I needed to structure my resume, express myself in my personal statement, and so much more. Throughout this process I have been able to look back and reflect on what exactly has brought me here to applying to graduate school.

Throughout my time at the University of Texas at Austin, I have always found the need to involve myself in extracurricular activities. Whether it be in Student Government, my fraternity Sigma Lambda Beta, the Latino community, or larger administrative structures like the University Unions Board of Directors. Now in my final years of college, I've come to realize that there was a single variable that existed along the way. Helping people express themselves, regardless of who they are, and helping people educate themselves has been my deepest passionate. While it took 19 years to finally realize that, I've spent these last few years doing as much as I could to focus on that passion. In my recent years at The University of Texas at Austin, I've seen myself accomplish so many things that the little boy in El Paso never could have seen himself doing. I never saw myself pulling the veil off of the Cesar Chavez Statue, and never saw myself joining a Latino-based fraternity that has now helped me fully connect to my Mexican roots. I never imagined that I would teach a class on gender and sexism, and I never imaged that I would help remove the name of a former Ku Klux Klan member from an on campus dorm. While I find myself now, trying to not sound like I'm bragging, I'm inspired by the fact that I never thought I'd have much to brag about.

The Intellectual Entrepreneurship program has allowed me to really deeply connect with my personal mission statement. I'm applying to graduate school in Higher Education Administration, because becoming involved on campus was the single most impactful thing I have ever done. It changed my life. In serving as a campus administrator, or an advisor to students, I want to give them all the necessary tools that they need to change the world as well. Before the beginning of this program, I understood that I wanted to become a part of Student Affairs because I wanted to work with students. But the statement ended there. I've now come to realize that students have an incalculable amount of capitol that they can use to help change the world.

As I've researched programs with my mentor, I've found myself more attracted to institutions that are more practicum based and are concentrated on working directly with the students. For a while, I had stereotypes and preconceived notions about graduate school that involved me assuming that there would be an insurmountable amount of research going on at every second from which I couldn't escape. However, after speaking with a lot of students who are actually enrolled in different programs throughout the nation, I've been able to realize that a lot of the students in the graduate program still have to do a significant amount of research but are able to interact with students on a level that allows them to immediately see results from the work they are doing. It has been through the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program that I am now able to understand why it is that education is so important to me, and why I am actually applying to schools that are focused on student interaction. I hope that with all that I have learned, not only about applying, but also about myself, will allow me to be an optimal candidate for graduate schools and in effect help affect hundreds of students lives.

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