Sydney Collins
Sydney Collins
Lowell Lebermann Scholarship
Marilyn Marshall White Enrichment Award
Forty Acres Scholars Class of 2024
Austin, TX
High School
Vandegrift High School

My childhood could best be described as frenetic. I was an obsessive kid, constantly ricocheting between strange hobbies. I grew a deep love for the sciences, especially astronomy; my second grade teacher commented that I always seemed to be lost in my head. My dreamy world was rocked however, with a previously unforeseen move to Austin, Texas. For nearly the entire summer I stayed in our new home, practicing and working to solve Rubik’s cubes faster and faster. In this womb-like state, I gained an interest in politics, and with it a newfound interest in people. Where once I had found meaning in the natural world, I now found even greater meaning in the people around me. I was lost in a new world: a high school twelve times the size I’d known. And with the bravado that comes only with naivety, I ran for Freshman Student Council President, winning not through the mechanisms of democracy, but because I had interviewed the best among the candidates.

As I progressed through high school, my interest in politics expanded to history, philosophy, and psychology. And yet, my love of science remained. This led me to join robotics as a junior, and the next year start a new team of my own within our organization. I built robots not for the electronics or the programming or the machining (I’ve repaired enough split wires to know it’s not for me), but for the people in the program and the kids on my team. The challenge was not to construct a working machine, but to bring together a group of teenagers and ensure they completed the right tasks in the right time frame, while keeping the atmosphere fun and friendly. It was an enormously stressful, but rewarding, experience, and by the year’s end we had a robot and a team, 16311 Recoil, that has continued and will continue long after my graduation.

Going into college, I faced a dilemma: what would I major in? When asked to name a specific area of interest, all I could come up with was “all of it.” This is how I knew Plan II was right for me. As I (and most people) live in quarantine, I feel that my life has come full circle. I exist in a similar womb-like state as before my freshman year of high school, with equal amounts of cubing and politics, but this time I’m entering UT with the support and love of the FASP community, armed with the knowledge I’ve gained through high school and ready to take on any challenge thrown at me. I am thrilled and honored to join my classmates on the Forty Acres. Hook ‘em!

Economics; Plan II Honors

Honors Program
Plan II Honors

Other Academic Interests
Political Science and Classics

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program?
The biggest complaint I hear about UT is how large the school is, how you can seemingly get lost in the mix. When considering colleges, it was very important to me that I learn with a community of other individuals who are genuinely interested in learning as well, and FASP provides just that, injecting a wonderful sense of community and belonging that is hard to find elsewhere at UT. This feeling was confirmed for me at Finalist Weekend, where I met the kindest and most interesting group of fifty-odd teenagers I had ever had the pleasure of being a part of. It's safe to say that I didn't hesitate for even a second in accepting my invitation, and I am ecstatic to build knowledge and grow along with the rest of my cohort.