Alumni Highlight

Austin Community College produces some of the hardest-working, talented alumni in the world. ACCENT met with ACC alumni, Antonio Cueto, to learn more about their experience with the college.

By: Pete Ramirez

Meet Antonio Cueto

Cueto graduated with their degree in Psychology and Journalism in May 2020. They now work as a freelance journalist for NPR affiliates. Cueto has melded what they learned at ACC, such as photojournalism, into multidisciplinary art for galleries in Texas and in a new Austin-based streetwear brand named Civil Unrest

Watch our Q&A segment with Cueto

The ACC Experience From An Alumni Perspective


Q: What is your experience with ACC?

A: I went to ACC a semester after graduating high school. I had started to go to UTSA but it wasn’t working out.

I went to ACC because it was the best vehicle to explore different career paths and it was a good school to feel comfortable in a smaller classroom setting.” 

“At the same time, it’s a really good vehicle to explore different interests and get support from professors and all the resources ACC provides.

My experience with ACC was fruitful. I started out as a psychology major but during my last semester I took a journalism class with Professor Paul Brown and it honestly changed me.

I took News Reporting I and the first assignment was to go to an event and write an article about it. Being in the field, interviewing different people, and structuring a story by what you get, felt like a rush and a calling.

I fell in love with it.

Q: Did ACC meet your expectations?

A: Yeah, definitely. I went to ACC because I knew it was the best option to learn about myself and in the end, I really found out what “my purpose” was.

Q: What was the best part about your time at ACC?

A: I think making all those connections led me to bigger things. Especially working with Professor Paul Brown in general. He changed my life.

He’s a very passionate professor and he has so much experience. The way that he teaches about his profession is so contagious. It really makes you fall in love with journalism.

I started the ACC Star with him, which is the newspaper for the journalism department. I was the founding editor and that was super cool.

I think those are the best parts of ACC because it put me on a path toward the career that I wanted,.

Q: Were you involved with any other student organizations during your time at ACC?

A: Yeah, I was the Hispanic student senator for a year in student government. I was also the campus vice president for Riverside in Phi Theta Kappa for a semester and a member throughout my time at ACC.

Both organizations are pretty influential at ACC. Especially student government. Student government exists at ACC but not a lot of students know about it so it was interesting to be in an organization that has some power. I think it’s the most power that students can hold at ACC to change things and make policy.

Phi Theta Kappa was great too. They also helped me a lot with becoming a more responsible, motivated student.

They emphasize leadership a lot and that really gave me a lot of experience in leadership roles and the confidence that I need in journalism.

Q: What would you say to someone who might be unsure about attending ACC?

A: If they have a clear path toward what they want to do, then go for it. ACC is great for students that aren’t sure of what they want to do.

It really opens up so many opportunities and helps you find whatever you’re missing to make that leap forward in your life or career.

Q: How has ACC changed your life?

A: It made me realize that life isn’t so linear. There is no structure or handbook that tells you, “this is what you’re supposed to do”. 

ACC taught me that life isn’t like that at all. Sometimes you’re in classes with people who are way into their careers and want to switch things up.

You don’t have to commit to one interest only, you can intertwine interests. You make up your own handbook.

Empowering Black Communities Beyond One Month

ACC will be celebrating Black History Month and the importance of what it means to the College and Austin.

By: Kimberly Dalbert

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.”

Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History

African American or Black, do you worry which one is correct? Do you speak up or stay silent when talking about racial injustice and inequality with another race? If so, you’re not alone. With so much racial injustice and inequality, it can feel like a very uncomfortable subject.
Austin Community College will be celebrating Black History Month and the importance of what it means to the ACC and Austin community.

ACCENT met with Dr. Khayree Williams, Director at Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center (TRHT), and Jason Brown, Manager at Black Representation of Achievement Through Student Support (BRASS), to discuss Black History Month, events, places to reach out for help or questions, and what Black History Month means to them.

View Our Segment on What Black History Month means to the ACC Community


Q. When thinking of Black History Month what is the first thing that comes to mind? 

“Pride, proud to be a black man every day, proud of ancestors’ accomplishments,” Brown said.

Q. Do you feel we need to change the narrative of Black History Month this year focusing more on people like Carter G. Woodson and his creation of Negro History week in 1926, and its origin to help understand inequality today instead of commonly known figures like Dr. Martin Luther King jr., Rosa parks and Harriet Tubman?

“We shouldn’t change the narrative or downplay sacrifices of our civil rights heroes. Black History should be more year-round not just the shortest month of the year,” Brown said. 

Williams shared a mutual feeling with Brown’s statement that Black History should be discussed all the time and not just during Black History Month. 


Q. How do you feel about discussions of psychological distress and mental health being addressed during Black History Month?

“I love that we as people discuss mental health openly. Growing up mental health seemed tabooer, especially in my family, along with a lot of other black households. Acknowledging and discussing mental health helps us heal as a whole,” Brown said. 

Williams admits that it is something that has for far too long not wanted to be addressed in the black community. 

“Speak up and be honest when we are struggling, this is something that should be discussed all the time not just during Black History Month,” Williams said.

Q. What would you say to ACC students experiencing uncertainty about how they feel regarding recent events of racial injustice and inequality, and also might be afraid to talk about it.

“You should have support in safe places, allies, and clinical counselors,” Brown stresses. 

“All of us are afraid because it is not an easy conversation to have. We do not want to say the wrong thing or come off as awkward, or offend someone, so it is easy to shy away. That is what TRHT is there for, ACC campuses and the community,” Williams said.


Q. Black History Month was created to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans. Do you think too much time is spent on the struggle and not the accomplishments?

“It has to be a balanced conversation, if you do not understand the progress you have made, then you will make some of those same mistakes again,” Williams said. 


Q. What does it mean to have a diverse environment, and do you think Austin Community College has this?

“Diverse people have their own characteristics and they are unique from each other. Austin Community College is a champion at diversity and makes sure everyone has a seat at the table,” Brown said. 

“Diversity is not just on paper and in numbers, it goes beyond that regardless of make-up everyone has an equal say, and wants everyone to feel cared for and loved in the Austin Community College community,” Williams said. 

To learn more about BRASS or TRHT visit the sources below: 

BRASS 

Black Representation of Achievement Through Student Support (BRASS) is a community dedicated to support interests and needs of Black students through higher education. BRASS strives to “produce a pipeline of successful future professionals who are Black representations of achievement prepared to be the next generation of corporate and community leaders.”

TRHT

The Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center (TRHT) at ACC is a partnership with our community to build cross-racial relationships that lead to racial healing and an exploration of ways to transform the college and community for greater inclusion and equity.

Dr.Khayree Williams "Diversity is not just on paper and in numbers, it goes beyond that regardless of make-up everyone has an equal say, and wants everyone to feel cared for and loved in the Austin Community College community."

Leadership Conference Aims to Build Students’ Confidence

Austin Community College Student Life is kicking off 2021 with the first annual Student Leadership Conference! This web-based convention allows ACC students to attend panels, meet with guest speakers, and network with their fellow peers. ACCENT met with organizers of this event, students, and guest speakers to get the scoop.

By: Adam Cherian

Austin Community College is kicking off 2021 with the first annual Student Leadership Conference! This web-based convention allows ACC students to attend panels, meet with guest speakers, and network with their fellow peers. 

Starting on Feb 4, this virtual two-day event will encompass central themes of confidence, resilience, and civic engagement. Students will have the opportunity to build such skills by listening to guest speakers such as local Austin icon, Evenlyn from the Internets.

Each day is divided into different time slots, where panels and networking will take place. The organizers realize that building networks of people during the Covid-19 pandemic is not easy, so the conference organizers have dedicated a whole hour each day for the sole purpose of meeting with other students. 

ACCENT had the opportunity to speak with ACC students, Ashley Pesina and Todd Snow, about why they were attending this conference, as well as what they are expecting to gain from attending.

“I want to strengthen my leadership skills. I am the new president of the new student organization LatinX Student Union. It will definitely help me in this new opportunity to be a better leader,” Pesina said. 

Snow, who is now the current president of the Student Veterans Association of ACC, is attending for similar reasons.

 “Even if a person will never be in a leadership role, the skills a good leader needs are skills everyone should have.” Snow said. 

Many students, like Ashely and Todd, are looking for better ways to increase their leadership skills, especially while we are in a pandemic and are unable to meet in person. 

“…we have been virtual for a year almost so I am used to participating in events online,” Pesina said. 

Snow disclosed with us that he would not  have been able to go if it were an in person event, which raises the question of accessibility. Having virtual events for the past ten months have created a space where everyone can safely participate in large events.

For instance, there are over 130+ students planning to attend this conference. 

“I would recommend an ACC student to attend this conference because it will help them gain leadership skills and network with different people,” Pesina said. 

Janelle Greene and Darrell Merriweather, guest speakers for the Resilience: Reaching In, Reaching Out, Reaching Around panel set to occur at 10 a.m. on Feb 5 will discuss how people can remain resilient in these times, while also maintaining civic participation in our communities. 

With the panel’s intention to educate the attendees of the panel on the ways to remain resilient in the face of hardship, they also strive to connect with students in different ways, especially during the pandemic.

“We wanted to bring about different strategies…finding support groups…being able to bounce back and persevere through these times,” Merriweather said. 

Kelsey Sisler and Jamal Nelson, organizers for the event, stated that though the theme of this year’s conference is confidence building, Nelson explained that this conference is more than just that but that civic engagement and acquiring leadership skills are also the focus. As well as trying to build leadership qualities after traumatic experiences. 

When we asked Sisler about what she was specifically doing to plan for the event, she emphasized that diversity was extremely important. Both planners made diversity a huge priority, which is seen in the panelists they are having.

 Both organizers exclaimed to us how much easier it is to plan this event online. Though they both experienced “Zoom fatigue” while planning, the accessibility of having it online is worth the fatigue.

 “The take away from the conference should be the information gathered, and the larger network built,” Nelson said. 

The Student Leadership conference of 2021 is one of the largest virtual conferences held by ACC Student Life that allows students to get connected with your peers, as well as get informative talks from highly experienced individuals. 

Visit the Student Life website to learn more about the schedule of events and registration.