Leah Kegerreis
Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Nancy and Mark Reichek
Forty Acres Scholars Class of 2025
Addison, TX
High School
Trinity Christian Academy

When I was a young girl, I absolutely loved nature. I decorated my cardboard “nature house” (recyclable, of course) with trees and flowers, collected rocks, and even gave a presentation on parks and conservation at my school. But as I grew up, my interests shifted to math, physics, and astronomy. When I started considering majors and potential careers, everyone recommended engineering, but that just didn’t seem like the right fit for me. I took plenty of career tests and spent hours poring over college websites, but nothing ever clicked.

During my junior year of high school, I had an accidental breakthrough. Recovering from a sports injury, I fell behind in AP Physics. To help me catch up, my teacher spent many hours with me after school on Zoom calls, teaching me about rotational kinematics and dynamic friction. During our time together, I learned that he was very concerned about the environment and conservation. He reinvigorated my interest in nature, and I fell in love with it all over again. The girl who had her own monogrammed lab coat as a kid realized she had never truly forgotten about the rock collections, tree identifications, and glacier models of her youth.

Over the next year I had opportunities to learn about the science behind climate change, attend awareness rallies, and research local and national environmental policies. As I continued to research these topics, I realized that I definitely wanted to study the environment in college. When it was time to choose a school and a major, the EVS program at UT’s Jackson School of Geosciences impressed me, and I was excited to be accepted into the program. While at UT, I hope to continue learning about environmental challenges and help promote practical solutions in our shared struggle against climate change.

Environmental Science

Honors Program
Liberal Arts Honors

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program?
When I first learned about the Forty Acres Scholars Program, I was interested, of course, but in my heart I was already planning to go to school out of state. I wanted to experience a different environment, where different opportunities awaited, and I figured the Forty Acres Scholars Program would be a long shot anyway. But the few short days of Finalist Weekend changed my mind entirely. I met a group of new friends who were passionate, dedicated, and lots of fun. I took a mock class from a professor who engaged us in discussions, and we continued those discussions long after the class was over. I learned about the incredible alumni network of the Texas Exes and the various opportunities that would be available to the selected scholars. So by the time the weekend was over, I had a completely different perspective. Not only did I really want to be a part of this program, I couldn’t imagine not coming to UT, especially not going to college with my fellow finalists, who have been such an inspiration to me. Once I was fortunate enough to be named a Scholar, I could not imagine myself anywhere else. I am so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to continue my education surrounded by such incredible people, and I look forward to changing the world alongside them.