Finding My Voice
In addition to being an entrepreneur, Andrea recently accepted a position as the Senior Director of Client Relations at Risch Results because she is passionate about helping small businesses find great diverse talent to grow their originations.
Photo: Sloan Breeden
“I wanted to give a gift that would create opportunities for students, particularly Black students, so that they could discover and define excellence within themselves, for themselves—just as I was able to do.”
— Andrea Anderson
“I found my voice here,” Andrea Anderson, B.J. ’89 said when reflecting on her time at The University of Texas at Austin. A first-generation student from the Dallas suburbs, Andrea is now an entrepreneur helping UT students find their own voices through a planned gift.
Andrea’s mother was valedictorian of her high school class, but decided to stay home and raise her daughters instead of finishing college. Her mother’s love of education never abated, though.“She wanted us to have the opportunities that weren’t available to her,” Andrea said.“She wanted us to go places.”Andrea’s mother and father, who worked at Kraft Foods in Garland his entire professional life, instilled in her a belief that anything was possible with hard work. “They always encouraged us to do whatever we wanted,” Andrea said.
Knowing that she wanted to move away to attend college and study journalism, Andrea applied to a variety of schools in Texas. When her acceptance letter to UT arrived on the same day as a scholarship offer, “Boom!” she laughed.“I knew in that moment that UT was the school for me. After that it was like I had blinders on.UT was the only school that I was going to attend.”
The day Andrea interviewed for a position that would take her away from journalism, she drove to Austin to get advice from her favorite professor, Griff Singer.
Finding Her Voice
Despite some initial obstacles, like not having a permanent room assignment and her stepfather’s hesitation to leave her to live on a co-ed floor of her dorm, Andrea immersed herself in the UT and Austin communities. In fact, her parents teased her when the first time they saw her in months was on TV as part of a peaceful protest at the Capitol.
She joined the African American Culture Committee and UT’s Innervisions Gospel Choir and wrote articles for the Daily Texan. “I also worked on and led the first MLK program that we had on UT’s campus,” Andrea said. “We started a tradition that has expanded beyond campus and into the Austin community.”
In her sophomore year, Andrea started working in the Dean of Students’ office through a work-study program. “I was very active on campus, which made a huge difference in my experience. And working in the dean’s office gave me a variety of opportunities that I never would have otherwise had,” she said.
But none of her moments at UT could compare to meeting her role model, journalist Ed Bradley, while attending the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New York. “It takes a lot for me to geek out over a celebrity,” she said. “I have been blessed to meet some very interesting people throughout my career — I’ve had conversations with Oprah and worked for a past center of the San Antonio Spurs. But meeting Ed Bradley and taking a picture with him … that wouldn’t have been possible without UT.
“UT really prepared me for success, especially from the standpoint of being a Black student,” Andrea continued. “When I was a student and starting out in my career, it was not unusual to be the only Black person in the room. Being comfortable with that — and understanding that I deserved to be there, that I’m intelligent and I bring something unique to the table — I learned that at UT.”
“I am a person who wants to leave my mark, leave a legacy,” Andrea said. Even her business, a marketing consulting firm, is called A Signature Group.
Though Andrea built her Longhorn legacy as an active member of the Black Alumni Network and the Black Studies Advisory Committee, it didn’t occur to her to support the university through her estate plan. “I don’t have any children and I’ve already set up a trust for my nephew, so even though I am not a multimillionaire, I have to think about where my assets are going to go when my time comes,” she said.
When a UT staff member approached her about making a larger impact, the solution seemed obvious: She decided to make the university the beneficiary of her life insurance policy. Andrea established a new scholarship, the Andrea F. Anderson Endowment in Black Studies, to support students in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. In addition to the new scholarship, she also decided to support the Brenda Burt Scholarship, a Texas Exes scholarship that supports Black undergraduates with financial need.
“I wanted to give a gift that would create opportunities for students, particularly Black students, so that they could discover and define excellence within themselves, for themselves — just as I was able to do,” Andrea said.
As a student, Andrea discovered that UT doesn’t just demand that students memorize facts in books. It teaches them to think critically, to find their voice, and to realize their worth and the unique insight they can offer. Longhorns like Andrea can then enter the world with confidence, knowing that they deserve a place at whatever table they choose. Her gift will help a new generation of leaders discover this for themselves — and go on to change the world.
When you include UT in your estate plan, you create global leaders, drive discovery and change the world. You also protect assets, provide for those you love and receive tax-wise benefits.
Texas Leader Magazine
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