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A World of Opportunities to Change the World

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How significant was the Campaign for Texas to students? Ask the current and future recipients of 846 new student support endowments.

Just how significant was the Campaign for Texas to students? In addition to helping transform the undergraduate experience through a revamped core curriculum, first-year interest groups, and signature courses, alumni and friends established 846 new student support endowments for undergraduates and graduate students — more than 100 each year during the historic eight-year campaign. These gifts will provide current and future students more opportunities than ever to follow their dreams and change the world.

Meet three of the many young people who have already benefited from the new endowments: a junior, a freshman, and a recent master’s degree recipient who represent the fields of science, business, and health care.

Emma Heitmann

Emma Heitmann, Class of 2016

As a budding environmental scientist, Forty Acres Scholar Emma Heitmann traveled to Botswana in 2013 to learn about the earth. In the end she learned about the world.

“The program really changed my perspective on my degree,” she says. “It opened my eyes to a more holistic view. Looking at the human component is just as important as the scientific issues.”

The Forty Acres Scholars Program, administered by the Texas Exes, paid for her trip to the southern African nation. Aimed at bringing the best to Texas, the program offers full-ride scholarships that cover not only the basics but also summer enrichment activities such as study abroad.

“I most likely would have never had the opportunity to go were it not for the Forty Acres scholarship,” says the graduate of Houston’s Lamar High School.

Heitmann’s scholarship is named for the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, while others are named for their particular donors and honorees. The Forty Acres Scholars Program was born when Exes officials noticed UT was losing top-tier students to competing universities that made more generous offers. There are now four classes of Forty Acres Scholars comprising more than 50 of the nation’s most talented and motivated young leaders. The first class will graduate in 2015.

Heitmann, in her third year in the Jackson School of Geosciences, is considering a career in hydrology. “Water is such a basic element of life that we take for granted a lot and don’t realize how much we depend on it — not just for sustaining ourselves but sustaining our lifestyle as well.”

Brenden McDonough

Brenden McDonough, Class of 2018

There are no limits to what young people can achieve when they commit themselves to excellence. Recognizing this, community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley joined forces with the university and Texas Exes during the campaign to create the Rio Grande Valley Scholars Program.

The goal is simple: to help some of the region’s highest achievers fulfill their dreams at the state’s premier public university. Students like Rancho Viejo’s Brenden McDonough.

McDonough is a graduate of Los Fresnos High School, where he ranked among the top in his class. A National Hispanic Scholar and varsity track athlete, he led a program at the school that prepares students for careers in business. Now he is exploring that passion at UT, where he is double majoring in accounting and finance in the McCombs School’s dynamic Business Honors Program.

So far, more than 200 donors have contributed a collective sum of more than $500,000 — in gifts ranging from $20 to $125,000 — toward a total RGV Scholarship endowment goal of $600,000. When completely funded, the program will permanently support scholarships for three students each year.

“The RGV Scholarship has been an unbelievable source of financial support for me and for my family,” McDonough says. “I feel truly blessed, as this has helped make my dream of attending UT Austin a reality. This has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I am forever grateful.”

Delilah Dominguez

Delilah Dominguez, MSSW ’14

Delilah Dominguez believes that art makes life worth living. That is why her work at AGE (Austin Groups for the Elderly) of Central Texas uses creativity and arts to help those suffering with early memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Any artistic endeavor is an expression and affirmation of human existence and our lived experience,” she says.

As a graduate student in UT’s highly ranked School of Social Work, Dominguez received a GRACE fellowship. The GRACE Program, renewed and expanded during the campaign with annual contributions from the St. David’s Foundation, is a field-based learning program designed to increase social work students’ knowledge of and experience with older adults.

“Philanthropy made college an affordable reality for me,” says Dominguez, who was the first in her family to achieve more than a high-school education. Freed by the fellowship to pursue her calling, she now uses art with older people who have memory loss to help them create and define their sense of self in the moment.

“Memory loss often forces people to live more immediately in the present moment,” she says. “When the arts are used as interventions with this population, it is possible to achieve true person-centered care.”

Thank you.

What starts here changes the world. And it started with you. We hope you’ll help us build on the remarkable momentum of the Campaign for Texas and continue to advance UT’s vision to become America’s best public research university.

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