As we wrap up another successful semester, The Moody College Honors Program would like to recognize some of our outstanding graduating seniors. We invite you to learn more about our Fall 2022 graduates, from their honors experience and plans for the future, to which TV characters best embody their time at Moody. Congratulations to all!
Brenna Van Skiver
Favorite part of the honors program: I loved the introductory classes of Life of the Mind and Life of the Community the most. They were an excellent introduction to the program, and I made memories that I will cherish for life and friends that I am close with to this day.
Capstone takeaways: I wrote a piece for UT Center for Community Engagement about UT student perceptions of East Austin and the importance of engaging with all parts of the Austin community, incorporating student interviews and survey data.
Advice for current honors students: Take advantage of speaker events. They are a great source of inspiration. Talk to the people in your classes.
Post-grad plans: I'll be working full time in Austin as a Public Involvement Specialist at Atkins.
Favorite honors speaker: Ada Limón (guest of the New Writers Project and Joynes Reading Room)
TV show character who embodies my Moody experience: Lorelai Gilmore
Zachary Krakauer Ganz
Favorite part of the honors program: Service and Community Engagement course, which provided opportunities to conduct an individual advocacy project of our own choosing.
Capstone takeaways: Reflection essay, combined with three COM 370H courses. Among various takeaways, I learned that becoming a better communicator, leader and advocate often entails more listening than speaking or planning. Compassion, contribution, and connection build trust in the long term. Finally, forging diverse alliances comes from recognizing that people have more in common than what divides us.
Advice for current honors students: Explore volunteer or work opportunities that complement the honors curriculum and your individual interests. My internships directly led to post-grad job placement.
Post-grad plans: Working in Washington, D.C. as Deputy Communications Director for Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett (TX-30)
Favorite honors speaker: Mira Jacob, in a Zoom session for Life of the Mind course.
TV show character who embodies my Moody experience: Amy Brookheimer on Veep, for her characterization of an overextended political staffer.
Capstone takeaways: Thesis: "Legal Case Disparities and Intellectual Property Rights in Contemporary Ghanaian Textile Design." Being re-structured following my IP research in the United Arab Emirates. Presenting to Plan II this spring.
Advice for current honors students: 1.) Be persistent in your passions! Some of my most beneficial undergrad lessons came from experiences that pushed me beyond my immediate comfort and required me to advocate for myself in ways I had never done before. 2.) While it's difficult at a PWI, strive to bring your racial identity to any environment you occupy.
Post-grad plans: Joining the Brookings Institution full-time as an ethics, rule of law, and accountability research intern to Ambassador Norman Eisen.
TV show character who embodies my Moody experience: Aang, Avatar in the Last Airbender
Favorite part of the honors program: There's too many to choose from! Either watching Eighth Grade with my Life of the Mind class, my first Friends of the College dinner, or the Black TV series I helped host with the DEI committee.
Capstone takeaways: I chose to do the honors Reflection Essay and incorporate excerpts from my journal entries over the past four years to really reflect on my journey throughout college. It was really cool to have the opportunity to look back and see how much I've grown since freshman year and how Moody Honors played a big role in that.
Advice for current honors students: Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the space to change and grow. College will change you in ways you may not expect, but it'll always work out for the best.
Post-grad plans: Still figuring it out day by day, but I hope to continue copywriting at an ad agency!
Favorite honors speaker: Either David Ikard or Patrick Radden Keefe
TV show character who embodies my Moody experience: Luz from The Owl House. I feel like going to UT is the closest I'll get to falling into a different realm, and like Luz, I've grown to love it here.
Favorite part of the honors program: Life of the Mind and Life of the Community were tied for my favorites. It was nice to have the whole cohort together to talk about interesting ideas and concepts. I also love Issues in Black American Adv/PR. It was an interesting class that talked about a history that I hadn't even thought to explore.
Capstone takeaways: My capstone project was a series of articles dissecting themes of substance abuse, relationships, and mental health in media aimed at teens and young adults. It was interesting looking at movies that I used to really enjoy and seeing all of the harmful ideas that I hadn't registered on my first watch. It was sad to see that newer media often falls into the same traps. I'm hoping that with the perspective I have now, I can work to improve the lessons being taught to that audience in their media.
Advice for current honors students: Have fun and really get to know the people in your program. You were chosen to participate in this because of the same reasons everyone else was: your mind and your perspectives. Share ideas with each other and take the time to listen. You'll be surprised by how much you can learn from each other.
Post-grad plans: After graduating, I plan to come back out to LA and continue working on my career as a screenwriter. I'm also considering getting my master's in screenwriting and becoming a professor.
Favorite Honors Speaker: It's very hard to choose, but I'd say either David Ikard or Patrick Radden Keefe. They both had very interesting perspectives and insights to share.
TV show character who embodies my Moody experience: I would say that I started college off as Molly and ended it as Issa (Insecure). I started off very sure that I knew exactly what I wanted and how to get there, but once I started, I realized that there are way more paths and opportunities than I thought. Once I started to really explore them, I discovered that I have more than one passion and that I could explore more than one at a time. It's been a very fulfilling realization.
Favorite part of the honors program: The bright, talented people in this program. Getting to learn and grow alongside my friends in Moody Honors has been such a privilege -- I only wish we could've had a Life of the Mind/Life of the Community every semester!
Capstone takeaways: My capstone is a research paper titled "The Legal Lives of Mexican Americans: How the Law Communicates Otherness Through the Lenses of Landmark Legislation" (it's a long title but I had to throw in some alliteration). It's been so rewarding to work with my advisor Dr. Shiv Ganesh and take a deep dive into the landmark court cases that have influenced Mexican American belonging and marginalization in the United States. Our community's history isn't taught as broadly as it should be, especially in Texas, so it's really fulfilling to get to learn more and then share with my peers.
Advice for current honors students: I think every Moody Honors student has an incredible pool of resources at our disposal to learn what we're good at and what we're passionate about, so I advise all Moody Honors students -- all students really -- to leap at new opportunities to challenge themselves and learn something new in the process. The most rewarding things I did in college were projects I found out about through the honors program.
Post-grad plans: I just got my first law school acceptance! I plan to attend law school (location TBD), earn my JD, and pursue a career as an attorney. I can't wait to learn about the law and how we can use it to empower people who have been historically underserved by it and our justice system.
Favorite Honors Speaker: I loved hearing from Patrick Radden Keefe, he was so interesting and his career as a journalist has been so consequential.
TV show character who embodies my Moody experience: I very much resonate with Lisa Simpson! Fun little fact: we both play jazz instruments.
Favorite part of the honors program: The honors program helped make the university just a little bit smaller. I loved knowing I had a built-in home and community on campus. The conversations we had in class were always lively and it was incredible to hear so many diverse perspectives routinely.
Capstone takeaways: I’m [currently writing] the [Reflection] essay.
Advice for current honors students: It goes by really fast! Freshmen need to take advantage of the time they have together in Life of the Mind and Life of the Community. Your classmates will end up being some of your best friends.
Post-grad plans: I’m going to be staying in Austin working as a marketing coordinator for a tech company.
Favorite honors speaker: Patrick Radden Keefe! I love reading his work.