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 I have spent my time at UT constantly pursuing this sense of curiosity. I am drawn to exploring unexpected connections between disciplines, which led me to the Humanities Honors program, where I build my own major exploring the intersections of government, sociology, communication studies, and psychology. One of the things I have cherished the most about UT is how many opportunities I have had to get involved with research, allowing me to explore a variety of interests from the influence of oil wealth on immigration policy to the crafting of a "communist threat" narrative in the 1965 U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic. I have also worked as a research affiliate for the Innovations for Peace and Development Lab, and as an undergraduate research assistant at the Center for Media Engagement. Using the Forty Acres Scholars Program enrichment funding, I had the opportunity to finish up my English minor while studying abroad at the historic University of Oxford. I also spent a semester living and working full time in Washington, D.C. as an Archer Fellow, and as a research intern for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Humanities Honors; Government

Honors Program 
Liberal Arts Honors; Humanities Honors

Other Academic Interests 
Minor in English; Creative Writing Certificate; political psychology; international development; behavioral economics; creative writing; education policy reform

Extracurricular Activities 
-Spring 2020 Bill Archer Fellow
-Junior Fellows Program
-Center for Strategic and International Studies, research intern for the Project on Prosperity and Development
-Center for Media Engagement, undergraduate research assistant
-Innovations for Peace and Development Lab, research affiliate
-Humanities Honors Student Council, Director of Engagement
-Forty Acres Scholars Program Service Committee

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program (FASP)?
Whether it be Zoom happy hours with my cohort during the COVID-19 pandemic, workshopping short stories with fellow scholars in creative writing classes, or calling up scholar alums to get advice on future career goals, the Forty Acres Scholars program has consistently been one of the most supportive, encouraging, and loving organizations I have been a part of in college. 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. What I love the most about FASP is the shared sense of fierce belief in each other and desire to see each other succeed and grow.

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 and surviving on a steady diet of tater tots, 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.