Mary Margaret Burniston
Hobby/Beckworth Forty Acres Scholarship
Forty Acres Scholars Class of 2021
Kerrville, TX
High School
Tivy High School

It has always been difficult for me to articulate what my interests are because the answer comes close to "everything." I am curious at heart and my Humanities Honors major allows me to explore that and carve my own path through creating a major centered around the intersections of government, psychology, and sociology. I also had the chance to deeply explore Shakespearian literature through working as a research assistant for Douglas Bruster in the Department of English, and I plan to continue my work in research at the Innovations for Peace and Development lab this year. Coming from a small, rural Texas town, I have also developed an interest in issues facing rural public education. This interest culminated in the creation of Aspire Scholarship Database, which aims to help Texas rural public school students access higher education through streamlining the local scholarship application process. This year I have also had the chance to pursue a life-long passion of mine through beginning classes towards my Creative Writing certificate.

Human Dimensions of Organizations; Humanities Honors

Honors Program 
Liberal Arts Honors

Other Academic Interests 
Political psychology, education reform, creative writing

Extracurricular Activities 
Founder at Aspire Scholarship Database; Undergraduate Research Assistant for Dr. Douglas Bruster; Innovations for Peace and Development Lab; Echo Literary Magazine; Forty Acres Service Committee; INSPIRE Women's Leadership Program

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program (FASP)?
What is unique about Forty Acres is that it’s not just a check written to you, but rather an invitation to join a community of some of the most driven, passionate, and kind people I have ever met. When I’m with my cohort, rather than feeling a sense of competition, I feel mutual respect, encouragement to pursue my interests, and motivation to develop my best self. The program grants an opportunity to make a big school feel small and interconnected as you have the chance to befriend scholars who are studying in all fields UT has to offer, participating in incredible research opportunities, interning with myriad organizations, and exploring all corners of the world through study abroad. Furthermore, the all inclusive nature of the scholarship alleviates many pressures college students feel, such as the expense of textbooks and housing, and allows you to focus on academic and extracurricular interests, as well as expanding your world horizons through study abroad.

Favorite FASP Memory  
My favorite FASP memory isn't one moment in particular but rather a collection of tiny moments that have made fellow scholars Ashley Deutser, Olivia Cardenas, and Joe Levin my best friends. From bonding over a mutual love of lazy rivers at the freshman Forty Acres retreat, living with Ashley my freshman year, bonding with Olivia over a mutual love for NPR, and lamenting Texas politics with Joe, these three have become my closest friends, most trusted advisors, and always first choice adventure partners. It's unlikely that I ever would have found them without Forty Acres, so I am grateful every day for Forty Acres for bringing us together.