Deisiree De Jesus
Deisiree De Jesus
Mary John and Ralph Spence Forty Acres Scholarship
Forty Acres Scholars Class of 2026
Edinburg, Texas
High School
South Texas ISD World Scholars

At 6 years old, there wasn’t much I could say I knew for certain besides one thing: I wanted to be a superhero. While my friends were going to camp to learn how to play basketball or soccer, I was looking for a hero training camp. Spoiler alert: I never found one, so instead I spent my days fantasizing about battles against monsters using wooden sticks from my backyard. Meanwhile, my nights were filled with dreams about having supernatural abilities, like telekinesis or flight, that I used to save the world from mad scientists or intergalactic aliens.

It took several years for me to eventually realize that, unfortunately, maybe I wasn’t meant to be a superhero, and I just had an intense imagination.

However, the drive to make a change never died.

Growing up and learning about my Filipino heritage through my parents instilled in me the principle of uplifting those around me in order to uplift myself. That’s what always drew me the most to becoming a superhero—the fact that they stepped up to the plate in order to serve those in need. And if I couldn’t be a superhero, then I was going to do everything I could to find out how to do that, too.

Cut to me volunteering and leading in places I never would have expected. In high school, I joined the Technology Student Association where I worked to provide access to STEM-related resources so that members may have the chance to explore new opportunities through competition. I became active in Student Council and a broadcast show called Lion Talks through which I learned the power that can come from authentic communities focused on using outreach and communication to improve the world around them. This continued outside of school as well. From volunteering at a local home health and hospice center to speaking at leadership conferences in hopes of inspiring students to pursue their passions, I became more enveloped in learning what it truly means to be an active part of a diverse community.

These combined experiences pushed me to realize that I was wrong; I don’t need to have telekinesis, super strength, or an eye-catching suit to be a superhero. By pursuing my passion to give back, I discovered how to act with compassion, integrity, and courage, just like how a true superhero should. In fact, it has inspired me to become a teacher focused on providing equitable access to high-quality education for all students.

Coming to UT for the next step in my journey has me exhilarated. I cannot wait to experience the many communities, connections, and opportunities that my new second home has to offer so that I can continue to develop my purpose in serving others. The next four years may contain some adversity, but alongside my peers and FASP community, I look forward to these challenges and seeing how we pave our legacies to redefine what it truly means to be a superhero.

Youth and Community Studies

Other Academic Interests
Possible minor in English and a certificate through the Peace Corps Prep Program.

Extracurricular Activities
Possible campus organizations I plan on joining are Filipino Student Association, Students Expanding American Literacy, and Minorities in Education.

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program?
From the get-go I admired how the Forty Acres Scholars Program aimed to provide students the opportunity to further their education and personal goals. However, what resonated with me the most was the program’s emphasis on forming a supportive community within a cohort. Being from a small city and a small school, I was used to having a tight-knit community filled with people I had known since I was in elementary school. Thus, I knew coming to UT was going to be a considerable transition. Then came in Finalist Weekend where I experienced first hand the community the program fosters. Seeing how the current scholars and program staff uplifted and interacted with each other, as well as how welcoming they were to the finalists, opened my eyes to the beautiful notion that this was not just a community, but a true family. Changing the world may seem daunting, and it may come with its own set of struggles, but being surrounded by amazing individuals with great passion and ambition is more than enough encouragement to continue persevering.