To hear Dallas ISD alum Lorena Watson tell her story during a TEDx talk, you’d never know that she overcame incredible odds as a high school student who, in addition to being homeless her senior year, was searching for her voice and place in the world.
During her TEDx talk, she commands the stage with great poise and confidence and engages you right away. It’s easy to see she’s a real person of interest and clearly destined for success.
Today, this David W. Carter High School alum (2010) is working her way through grad school. AlumNow, a Hub feature that checks in with district alumni to see where they are now, connected with Watson to find out how things are shaping up for her.
What are you doing now?
I’m working as a real estate agent while in graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin. I’m pursuing an MA in educational psychology. As a student, I’m learning to be a counselor, focusing on academic settings and multicultural competencies. This year I will be counseling at three different settings to grow in my skills and comfort level in working with young people through social and emotional development to enhance learning outcomes.
Please list a few of your career and/or personal highlights.
In 2013, I delivered a TEDx talk with some of my favorite mentors and friends about the power of spoken word in the development of young people. During graduation season, I had the opportunity to speak at the university-wide commencement with tens of thousands of attendees.
In 2011, I studied abroad in Santander, Spain. That was a life-changing trip that taught me so much about myself because of a fantastic host family and a rich culture.
What was your favorite subject or activity/involvement in high school?
My favorite thing in high school was my involvement with the Literary Society. I was able to fully be an artist, fully a student, and fully a human being. Through the amazing mentorship of Darius Frasure, I grew as a writer, performer, and human being. I met some of my best friends through that group, who I still am close to now.
What lesson did you learn in high school or beyond that has served you well through the years?
Treat people well. Although that is supposed to be a standard, when networking with people, it’s important to realize that networks are formed even without trying; the people you meet on a daily basis or even the friends you have now. I remember, as an undergraduate, I needed a specific letter of recommendation from a member in an organization, but no one I was really close to was able to do that for me. One of my former high school teachers referred me to another faculty member who I had only interacted with a few times but who had a good impression of me. From then on, it was even more important to me to always make a good impression and treat people well, because they could be the key to opening a door! You definitely don’t want a bad first impression to be a lasting one.
College/University and degree earned:
The University of Texas at Austin, B.S. applied learning and development (youth and community studies) 2014