Wayne Wagner’s graduation gift to his sister
It wasn’t his graduation.
It wasn’t even his alma mater. But something touched Wayne Wagner that night, and a scholarship was born.
It was December 2002, and Wagner was attending the UT School of Nursing commencement as the proud big brother of graduate Nicole Murry. Honored as an outstanding student, Murry was a featured speaker. Then it came time to hear from Dean Dolores Sands, who not only delivered standard graduation fare but also reminded the graduates that they had a responsibility to give back to the University. Wagner had never heard a college dean speak so directly, and he knew he had to act.
“It just came to me that night,” he said. “I went and hunted the dean down.”
Wagner also saw something special in the 40 members of his sister’s graduating class: an overwhelming desire to help others.
“I was just blown away,” he said. “It was so refreshing to have every one of those 40 get up there and talk about how they just wanted to change the world.”
A scholarship was born that night — a scholarship named for Murry that would help students follow in her footsteps in the School of Nursing. The Nicole Streuding Temprovich Murry Undergraduate Scholarship in Nursing became Wagner’s graduation present to his sister.
“What a great gift,” Murry said. “Better than your usual.”
Murry is now a nurse manager of Neonatal Intermediate Care at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in San Antonio. Before that she worked as a neonatal intensive care nurse and nurse educator at St. David’s Hospital in Austin. Wagner is Western division sales director for Principal Funds, a division of Principal Financial Group, also in San Antonio.
When it comes to giving, Wagner knows that not everyone can be a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffett. He isn’t. But as a financial executive he knows there are many ways to make a gift without writing a check today. At his age, 41, life insurance is still very affordable. After his lifetime, the University will receive the proceeds of his policy.
Estate donors, he said, “have the ability to see way down the road.”
Stephanie Wagner isn’t surprised at her husband’s decision to give.
“Wayne is such an amazing human being who is all about everyone around him and not about himself,” she said. “He’s about that in everything in his life.”
Wagner, whose family had little money for college, knew he would give back to higher education from the moment he registered at the University of Southern California. When it came time to pay his tuition he couldn’t understand why he didn’t owe the full amount. The cashier explained that people gave money to the university to help students like him. Wagner found the concept mind-boggling. He promised himself that he, too, would help college students someday.
“There’s some probably deserving but not financially capable person who’s going to go to this school because of Steph and me,” he said.
Wagner gives for another reason, too. He grew up in San Antonio, where he and Stephanie live with their three sons. He knows his family will be longtime Texans.
“We believe in Texas as a state,” he said. “You’ve got to have an educated population if you’re going to be competitive on a global basis.”
The Wagners lived in Austin during Murry’s years at UT. They helped her through school, offering both emotional and financial support. In that time Wagner began to see the nursing profession differently.
“I took on a new respect for nursing,” Wagner said. “I didn’t realize how much science and chemistry it took. It’s brutal.”
Murry loves working in neonatal care.
“It’s not just a job,” she said. “Realizing what an impact you can make on a life every day is really the important thing.”
Murry reveres her profession — and the school where she learned it. She marvels at the fact that future nurses will be able to study in her name.
“I believe in nursing,” she said. “I believe in the future of nursing, and giving someone the opportunity to attend this nursing school is an incredible feeling.”
Wagner says giving is both a responsibility and a privilege.
“You will get way more from the experience than you will ever imagine.”
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