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  • Linnea Iannazzone

Spotlight: Pat Garcia, Literature Professor at Free Minds Austin

Executive Director Lela Hilton
Pat Garcia

Professor Pat Garcia brings to her teaching in Free Minds, a Clemente course in Austin, TX, her dual expertise in English Renaissance Literature (Shakespeare!) and Latino/a Literature. In her class students might practice performing scenes from Measure for Measure or consider the ways that Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street echoes Virginia Woolf's edict that a woman needs "a room of one's own."

Pat began teaching in Free Minds in 2013 after discovering it through the enthusiasm of other passionate educators, including her husband, who had previously taught with the program. She is part of a team of professors from UT Austin and Austin Community College who serve as the program's faculty. Once involved, Pat says she was "impressed with the community of students, scholars, and activists involved."

Now, Pat teaches literature and helps plan curriculum for Free Minds. Get to know Pat with our quick Q&A!

What makes Clemente and the study of the humanities special to you? This program feeds my soul. I love teaching, and these students remind me why. They bring a wealth of experiences to the classroom that enhance our learning, and for many, it’s the first time these experiences have been recognized as part of our learning. The humanities are about humans and how we interact with the world.

Please share a favorite Clemente memory, or a favorite "fact" about the program that makes you proud to share your time and support!

My favorite Clemente/Free Minds memory is a tradition I started of having students sign my copy of the book we read together, Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. It’s become my yearbook for that year and an inspiration to read their messages.

What do you do outside of the Clemente universe? I am a senior lecturer of English at UT Austin. For fun, I read, hike, travel, and shop for shoes!

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