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Benjamin Ammon: Academia and Beyond

Giving News

Students at The University of Texas at Austin have been changing the world for more than 125 years. One factor that helps attract the best undergraduate and graduate students — regardless of financial circumstances — is endowed scholarships.

What sets endowed scholarships apart from other types of financial assistance? Gifts given as endowments are invested and never spent, so the dividends become scholarship awards year after year. Scholarships from these endowments allow students to concentrate on world-changing research and academics.

In fact, in 2011-2012 alone UT awarded 7,938 separate endowed scholarships and fellowships to students, 1,672 of which were held by graduating students who earned their degrees.

This is the second in a five-part series profiling some of UT’s inspiring endowed scholarship recipients

Benjamin Ammon

BA Plan II ’12

Benjamin AmmonsBenjamin Ammon’s faith and his desire to change the world led him from a small Christian school outside Dallas to one of the largest universities in the United States. The transition to UT was a big change for Ammon, but it’s also why he chose to major in Plan II.

There were 21 graduates in Ammon’s high school class at the Covenant School, so he liked that Plan II was small, with 200 students in each class, yet it offered him the opportunity to study across many disciplines.

Study he did, taking philosophy, religion, the philosophy of science, and several biology classes that fulfilled his med school requirements.

Ammon has long been engaged in changing the world beyond academia, too.

Starting his sophomore year he volunteered at Mission Possible, an Austin organization that runs prayer meetings, art shows, and after-school programs for low-income families, and Church Under the Bridge.

It was at Church Under the Bridge where Ammon met Wayne, 28, who grew up in the child welfare system and is trying to lift himself out of homelessness. Close friends now, Ammon and Wayne would see each other once a week and Wayne would sometimes crash at Ammon’s place when he needed somewhere to stay.

“Wayne has always been supportive of me as a student. He’s excited for what I’ll be doing in the future,” Ammon says. “He wants to buy me my stethoscope when I start med school.”

The experience with Wayne taught Ammon there are resources out there that people can use if they want to improve their lives.

Ammon spent his senior year at UT interning in the office of Texas Sen. José Rodríguez, who sits on the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. As part of his internship, Ammon researched childhood obesity, its causes, and possible solutions.

“They gave me freedom to research something I was interested in so I picked childhood obesity,” Ammon says. Studying obesity causes, statistics, and different approaches that public health researchers had used in the past, he wanted to figure out what Texas could do to solve the problem.

“A lot of people in Texas would say that it’s not the government’s job to interfere and tell people how to live their lives, but in public schools that is already the state’s job,” Ammon says. “I think health education and physical education are very important in teaching kids how to eat right and how to stay active.”

After medical and graduate school, Ammon plans to work as a medical missionary, creating a community health clinic while advocating for large-scale health reforms through public policy.

The Endowed Presidential Scholarship Ammon received his senior year allowed him to work on his thesis and graduate debt free. “I was able to work on my thesis and have an internship where I wasn’t paid,” he says. “I cannot thank [UT] enough for your investment in my education and in my life.”

If you have a story about inspiring UT students, please share it with us by emailing
share@austin.utexas.edu.

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