University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

Jamilla’s Story

December 9, 2013

“I was lost in the crowd, and now I help others find their way.”

Jamilla and Dr. Brown Coming to The University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 2012, I had no idea what the DDCE Gateway Scholars Program was about. I was an undergraduate, without a specified major, going to a large university, with no one by my side until I signed up for the Gateway Scholars Program. Within the first month of my freshman year, I was introduced to the Gateway STEM Initiative and was instantly surrounded by peers who shared the same academic experiences that I had and by upperclassmen and professors who were genuinely interested in our academic success. I was also introduced to the STEM coordinator, Dr. James Brown, who to this day has been a huge contributor to my academic success.

I have learned so much from Dr. Brown—not just course subject matter but life lessons as well. He showed me that academic hardships are not a bad thing. Here at UT Austin, classes aren’t designed to be easy. He taught me that when you are not doing well in class, it does not make sense to give up. It makes sense to strive even harder—that there is a way for you to be successful. The journey to success includes utilizing the resources you have been given—and for many of us, those resources included the STEM Initiative.

Jamilla and Dr. BrownThrough the STEM initiative I was able to gain the tools needed to make my journey through calculus and economics courses a lot smoother. It was not easy, but the drop-in tutoring, math boot camps, and supplemental instruction sessions with Dr. Brown were very valuable and well worth my time.  I was able to see the goal I set for myself at the beginning of freshman year become a reality. By doing well in calculus and economics, I was able to transfer as a business major into the McCombs School of Business.

The STEM initiative also helped me realize the vision that I have for my life: to devote my life to helping others grow and develop. This is, in fact, is exactly what Dr. Brown has done.  Even though he had a PhD in physics and a prosperous career in the high-tech industry, he came to the realization that he wanted to have a meaningful and lasting impact on others.  This is why he joined the Gateway Scholars team at UT Austin, and his position was made possible thanks to the Vice President’s Fund for Excellence.

Although I do not know exactly what my future helping others will encompass, I am grateful that I have been given somewhere to start. I am now a tutor in the Gateway STEM Initiative and still growing through Gateway Scholars. I truly care for the success of the students who utilize Gateway services, much the same way I saw that Dr. Brown and other individuals cared for me and the students in my cohort. Working in Gateway Scholars constantly shows me how powerful these DDCE initiatives are, and I am glad that I have and will continue to be a part of them.

Jamilla

Jamilla Karemo

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