It was a flyer on Kyle Fuqua’s door at Capital Studios that piqued his interest in our Free Minds program. The 31-year-old personal trainer started but never finished college due to serious missteps that landed him in legal trouble and a struggle with substance abuse. Free Minds, a free two semester college humanities course run in partnership with UT and ACC, presented just the right opportunity for Kyle to return to school. Almost 100 people applied and Kyle was accepted into the class of 20 students. His life has already changed as a result.
“There’s a magic in that class,” Kyle said about Free Minds. “We have the best professors and a glue-like bond between the classmates. We all want to see each other succeed.”
Kyle is part of Free Minds’ 10th graduating class and will join his classmates as they walk across the stage in their cap and gown this month. Each of the graduates will earn six college credits at ACC. For many students, the road to Free Minds isn’t an easy one. Free Minds is intended for adults living on low to moderate incomes who have faced barriers to education.
Kyle’s challenges began when he was 18. He committed a burglary and a robbery and was sent to prison for three years. Shortly after being released, he started using drugs. Kyle felt his life spiraling out of control and turned to
a supportive group of family and friends to help him get sober. That was almost seven years ago. Now, Kyle is living
a stable, healthy life as a resident at Capital Studios in downtown Austin and spends his days motivating others to achieve their fitness and nutrition goals.
He works at two different gyms in the Austin area. The can-do attitude Kyle employs at his job is also evident in the Free Minds classroom.
“Kyle takes his work seriously and has high standards for himself,” Vive Griffith, the director of Free Minds, said. “In many ways, he’s lifted the standards for the entire class.”
Reading Frederick Douglass’ autobiography and Plato’s The Republic ultimately helped open Kyle’s mind to new ways of thinking. Building on the enthusiasm and support from Free Minds, Kyle said he plans to enroll at ACC in the fall and is considering different degree options. He has set big goals for himself and is determined to successfully finish college so he can pursue a career he loves.
“I’m not content with just earning a paycheck,” Kyle said. “I want to do something that I’m passionate about, something that is challenging.”
For more information about Free Minds, please visit www.FreeMindsAustin.org.