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Longhorns Go Global to Improve Lives.

Public service by UT students takes many forms, but some of the most far-reaching efforts are those that promote economic development and fight poverty worldwide.

That is the case with the William H. Crook Program in International Affairs, which awards fellowships each year to support students working on concrete, practical solutions in the developing world.

Bill Crook was a pioneer in global development who established the Office of Economic Opportunity at the request of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and was national director of VISTA, now known as AmeriCorps. Honoring his impact in the fight on poverty, the Crook Program launched in 2008 at UT’s Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law with funding from his wife, Eleanor Crook, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation.

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Robbie Paras went to Mongolia to help low-income women become entrepreneurs.

Since then, more than 50 fellowship recipients have worked with innovative nonprofit organizations to improve economic, social, and educational conditions of communities in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

Robbie Paras is working toward an MA in global policy studies and plans to pursue a career in international development. As a Crook Fellow, Paras spent last summer working with the Asia Foundation in Mongolia, where she helped low-income women learn to become entrepreneurs through sustainable small-scale farming.

“Because Mongolian cuisine is based on a traditional, herding lifestyle, it consists mainly of meat and dairy products. So introducing fresh produce is one way to promote a more balanced diet,” Paras says. “Beyond that, growing and selling vegetables has encouraged these women to embrace entrepreneurship while providing for their families. For many, it has been a way to escape inequality and poverty. Over time, this brings about positive, long-term behavioral and social changes that will improve their lives and their communities.”

The Crook Program is one more example of something that starts on campus — with the help of a privately funded endowment, in this case — and goes on to change the world, as well as the lives of the students who participate.

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Crook Fellows blog about their experiences at

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