photo of Garfield McConico and Petrenella Johnson

The ways in which we shape our future can be strongly influenced by how the past has shaped us. Byron Anderson (B.A. ’88) credits his maternal grandparents for their impact on his life and for helping him find a pathway to creating positive futures for others.

“My grandparents showed me what is possible through their actions and values,” says Byron. “They helped me understand the benefits of building good character, pursuing higher education and being of service to others and how rewarding those experiences could be.”

Byron has honored his grandparents with the creation of The Garfield and Petrenella McConico Endowed Scholarship through the College of Education. His endowment will be further funded with a future gift through his estate, ensuring his family’s extraordinary legacy endures.

Planting Deep Roots

In 1937, Garfield McConico married Petrenella Johnson and the couple settled in Round Rock, Texas, which then had a population of just 1,200. Both college-educated, Garfield and Petrenella were eager to change the world as Petrenella began a teaching career while raising five children, and Garfield became a businessman, a real estate investor and a politician who had big dreams about what Round Rock could become.

In 1969, Garfield became Round Rock’s first Black city council member (1969-77) and went on to serve as the city’s first Black mayor pro tem (1971-77). During his time in office, he was instrumental in hiring Round Rock’s first city manager, connecting the city to a 911 emergency services and waste management system, and recruiting Westinghouse to establish its headquarters in Round Rock. He also helped create jobs for Black veterans returning from service abroad through his contract painting business. Recognized as a local legend in Round Rock, Garfield made a lasting impact on the city’s development and bridged the gap between all cultures.

Petrenella, a lifelong resident of Round Rock, graduated from Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University) in 1934. She was a devoted educator who touched the lives of countless students during her more than 35-year teaching career in the Round Rock Independent School District, which included a lengthy tenure at Hopewell School, the district’s segregated school for African American students. She and Garfield lived the basic principles of family, education and service to the community and passed them down to the next generations of their family. In 2003, the city honored the couple by naming Round Rock’s municipal building, which sits on the site of the family’s former homestead, the McConico Building.

A World of Impact

As the descendant of teachers, including his mother, Patsy McConico Anderson, who taught in the Austin Independent School District for 30 years, Byron knew early on the important role education would play in his future. He attended Austin public schools and developed a strong connection to UT during his youth, spending countless hours on the UT campus attending educational programs, sporting events, playing basketball on the Clark Field outdoor courts and hanging out with friends. As a teen, he worked as an usher at the Frank Erwin Center. He graduated from UT with a B.A. in government and a minor in business administration. “My whole experience at UT was the most enjoyable and memorable time in my life,” he says. “I met people from all over the world and made lifelong friends.”

Byron went on to earn an MBA in finance from the University of Houston Bauer College of Business. He has more than 30 years of combined work experience in the energy and insurance industries, where he specializes in the areas of commodities trading risk control, ethics and compliance, and corporate insurance risk management. His tremendous commitment to creating an inclusive atmosphere at UT is evident through his longtime interest in connecting the University’s intellectual resources to communities across Texas and offering support to those who may face challenges accessing educational opportunities. Byron has served on the Texas Exes Advisory Council and the Texas Exes Board of Directors – Houston Chapter. He is a Life Member of Texas Exes and is currently a member of the UT Austin Development Board.

photo of Byron Anderson

“My whole experience at UT was the most enjoyable and memorable time in my life.”
Byron Anderson

“Fostering an environment where global education, innovation, entrepreneurship and community outreach are celebrated is so important. I am most proud to be a part of a group of people that truly represents the University’s core values,” he says. “In today’s society, we focus so much on giving our youth the things we didn’t have. Sometimes we forget to give them what we did have. My scholarship pays homage to my grandparents and the impact they are still having today.”

Texas Leader Magazine

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