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Prize Recipients Share Winnings with the University

Giving News

By Jamey Smith

Anyone seeking confirmation that The University of Texas transforms lives need look no further than two recent donations. Each represents a big thank you for a positive UT experience.

You may have seen Zach Anner on television as host of the Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Rollin’ with Zach.” After besting the competition in last year’s “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star,” Anner’s travel series aired and he received $100,000 to donate as he wished. He gave $33,000 to Texas Student Television (TSTV), where he honed his comedic chops while studying film at the university. The student-run station is using his donation to upgrade equipment.

UT takes the prize: Zach Anner is one of two individuals to recently say thanks to the university by donating award funds.

Anner, a native of New York, has cerebral palsy — “the sexiest of the palsies,” he likes to say — and the show followed him and his wheelchair from coast to coast, providing a showcase for his intelligent, disarming brand of humor. He’s now at work on a different show, and hopes to eventually complete his degree.

“TSTV was truly a place that helped me find my voice and the people I work with today,” he says. “It’s an invaluable resource that doesn’t get a lot of press or recognition, but it gives students hands-on experience unlike anything else at UT or any other film school.”

As for Joe Pallini of Tomball, he didn’t attend UT but has two children who loved being Longhorns, even while maintaining perfect 4.0 GPAs. Kelly Pallini, BBA ’10, is now a nurse. Michael Pallini, BS ’12, after starting out in chemical engineering, realized he wanted to be a physician and changed his major to biochemistry. The recent graduate will begin his studies at Baylor College of Medicine in July.

An engineer at General Electric, Joe received GE’s prestigious Edison Award, which came with $25,000. He chose to spread the prize among the three UT areas that served as the foundation of Kelly and Michael’s studies: the Cockrell School of Engineering, McCombs School of Business, and College of Natural Sciences.

“I wanted to thank them for the wonderful education my children received and the way the university has treated my family,” he says. “We’ve been very happy with UT. We enjoyed it tremendously and would do it all over again.”

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