Humanities (Educational Inequality) and Sociology
Minor in government
South Louisiana, Middle School Mathematics
Ian McEntee’s story starts out in Louisiana, in a very small town in the south of the state. When he was 9, Hurricane Katrina hit, and his family came to Austin. While he wasn’t born here, his parents have always said that Ian “found his home” here.
Growing up, Ian was called to the stage. After graduating from Bowie High School, where he’d been one of the top thespians, he got a scholarship to attend NYU. A few months later, he was facing the reality that maybe acting wasn’t his real calling.
“I want people to be aware that their dreams are not always their dreams,” McEntee said. “You should strive for something but it might not be everything you thought it was.”
After his realization, McEntee headed home, realizing he needed to be somewhere that would let him explore the topics he was passionate about.
“I always wanted to be at UT,” McEntee said. “I love
UT. I love Austin. When I joined liberal arts I had no idea what I wanted to do.”
So, he started working down the list about what he did know.
“I knew I cared about people,” he said. “I knew that I cared about systemic issues.”
Ian became a Humanities major. He’ll graduate with a degree focused on Education and Equality.
As he approached his last few years, Ian focused on his work with Liberal Arts Council and Student Government. Teach For America was not on his radar as a possible choice for the future. Even when he did start to consider the possibility of joining the corps, he said it was a hard decision.
“I opened my application 8 times,” he said. “Opened the window and closed it, opened the window and closed it.”
Ian’s hesitation came from a lot of the chatter he’d heard about Teach For America in some of the student circles he was in.
For Ian, the real question came down to whether he thought that through Teach For America he could begin to accomplish his own mission.
“I had to ask myself, ‘Why do I want to do Teach For America?’”
Ian’s “why” boils down to some very specific stats that come from the 2015 National School Climate Survey.
Here are a few of them:
32% of queer students will never graduate high school.
42.5% of LGBT students who said they do not plan on finishing high school, said they were considering dropping out because of the harassment they face at school.
10% reported they would not pursue any post secondary education versus 2% of straight students.
LGB students were 62% more likely to miss school than straight students.
One of the most salient points to Ian is that 29% of LGB youths have attempted suicide in the past year, most of them citing self esteem and feeling lower levels of belonging as the reason.
“That starts in the classroom,” Ian said. “Something as simple as making a student feel valid means so much. I want to be the queer role model I never had. I grew up very comfortable with accepting parents and in Austin, but, still, I didn’t see anyone who was open and living as their true and authentic selves. There’s beauty and love behind that. I want to be that for a student who is figuring out their own identity.”
Next year, Ian is going back to Southern Louisiana. There, he said he will lead a classroom that strives to make every single student feel cared about and accepted.