Students and Alumni Rally to Support UT during Forty Hours for the Forty Acres
On April 8-9, 2015, Longhorns all over the world came together during a forty-hour giving campaign appropriately named “Forty Hours for the Forty Acres.” The purpose of the campaign was to bring together current students and alumni through philanthropy. Participants were encouraged to give to wherever their passion at UT Austin lied, whether it was a student organization, a department or major, or a research area.
The university set out with a goal of $140,000 and before the end of the first twelve hours of the campaign, that goal had already been met. At the end of the forty hours, The University of Texas at Austin had more than doubled that goal and raised a total of $391,009.
The International Office also participated in the campaign, launching a targeted social media campaign and series of videos to highlight the value of international education and exchange. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the International Office raised almost $16,000 with support from 97 donors. These gifts will fund scholarships for international students, study abroad participants, and students in the English as a Second Language program.
The champion of our campaign was the Quintanilla family, longtime friends and supporters of the International Office. Carlos and Clara Quintanilla pledged $10,000 before the campaign even launched and were counted among sixty donors who gave $1,000 or more to the university and earned the honor of being a Longhorn Leader. Their generous gift will support scholarships for students from Mexico studying engineering at UT.
A second Longhorn Leader, Gabriel Castello, also gave in support of scholarships for international students. Castello’s son, Miguel, was recently admitted to UT Austin and will start in the Fall. “I am so proud to honor Miguel and become a member of UT Austin community,” he said.
Study abroad also benefited from the generosity of current students and alumni. One of the donors whose gift was in support of study abroad scholarships is currently studying abroad. Eduardo Belalcazar, a senior in international relations and global studies, knows well the value and impact of philanthropy. He is at UT Austin on a full academic scholarship as a Truman Scholar. He spent the Fall semester in Nicaragua thanks to two separate scholarships, is currently in Brazil on another scholarship, and recently learned he was the David L. Boren Scholarship under the 2015 National Security Education Program to continue his studies in Brazil.
Not only is Eduardo a beneficiary of philanthropy, he is also a strong advocate of paying it forward. Last semester, he launched an online fundraising campaign to help his host-sister in Nicaragua raise funds to support her dream of becoming the first girl in her family to attend university.
His support during Forty for Forty echoed his driving philosophy. “It’s my responsibility to pay it forward,” he said. “It’s what everyone that has ever helped me as been doing. That’s the way the cycle works: everyone paying it forward.”
Another donor to study abroad was 1990 alumna Gloria Gonzalez who spent a semester in both Mexico and Germany. “I feel very strongly about study abroad,” she said. “For me it was the most formative experience while at The University of Texas. There is a world beyond Austin. As wonderful and large as UT is, it is crucial for students to experience what there is beyond the city, state and country.”
Pascal Keronga, an ESL student studying at UT Austin, knows first hand the impact of a receiving a scholarship. He was awarded a funding to support his second semester in the Academic English Program to help him prepare for an advanced degree in the United States. “Instead of having to spend time looking for funding, I can spend it on researching and working on my graduate school application, “ Pascal said. “I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders.” Pascal plans to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo after completing his graduate degree to run a social enterprise that will benefit impoverished children.
The International Office is grateful to everyone who gave and spread the word in support of the students we serve and programs we run that make UT not only a global university but a global force for good.
By Fiona Mazurenko
Photos courtesy of Geoffrey King, Sara Combs, Eduardo Belalcazar, and Pascal Keronga