Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

Posted June 18, 2019


Throughout their four years on campus, the 18 scholars in the Class of 2019 founded organizations, held key leadership positions, and interned and studied abroad around the world—all while supporting one another and completing a combined 32 undergraduate degrees.  

As these scholars begin their next phase, they are heading off to sought-after jobs, internships, and graduate programs around the country. Read more about their experiences with the program and their plans for the future below.  

Jeff Auster graduated with a BS in chemical engineering. He will be working for Strategy& in Boston. 

“Being surrounded by leaders from all areas of campus has exposed me to diverse perspectives and generated invaluable collaborations to make the university a better place. When I was just a freshman, I drew on my connections to other Forty Acres Scholars to become engaged on campus. I am incredibly grateful for fellow scholars like Katie Mark, who introduced me to the Student Engineering Council, and Katherine Allen, who co-founded Genesis with me. The unparalleled access to esteemed alumni also helped us implement our mission of democratizing entrepreneurship on campus. This program has catalyzed my personal and professional development while creating long-lasting relationships with future innovators, leaders, and visionaries.” 

Erin Backus graduated with a BA in African and African diaspora studies and a BS in athletic training. She will be attending the UT School of Public Health in Houston to pursue a master’s in health education/health promotion.  

"The Forty Acres Scholars Program has given me opportunities I’d only ever dreamed of, such as traveling internationally and being supported by a community of brilliant young minds. Growing up, I'd always been interested in traveling and learning about other cultures. I wanted to see how alike we all are and appreciate the differences that make us unique. Through FASP, I have visited three continents outside of North America, and it has been better than I could have ever imagined! I have lived with a Queen in Ghana and learned about Sankofa (getting back to my roots). I have stood on the steps of the Basilica in Quito, Ecuador. I have swum with sharks alongside 17 of my closest friends (my FASP cohort) in the Galapagos Islands. I have sat atop a petrified waterfall in Oaxaca, Mexico. And I have brunched across the pond in the shadow of the Tower of London. In every country I’ve visited, I brought a piece of my home and myself to exchange with whoever I can, and I feel more and more like a global citizen because of it. With friends and good memories across the globe, everywhere feels welcoming to me. I can’t wait to continue travelling more in the future! There’s just so much to experience!" 

Giancarlo Bernini graduated with a BA in religious studies. He will be working full-time as a professional magician, based out of Dallas. 

“The Forty Acres Scholars Program has had a tremendous influence on my college experience, especially through the community that it has built. The friendships I’ve made with other students in the program and the adventures we’ve gone on together have been the highlights of my time here—everything from a summer service trip to Argentina to our senior retreat in the Galapagos. One of my favorite memories was partnering with three other students to put together a magic show fundraiser that ended up being the biggest show I’ve ever done. Aspiring to become a professional magician when I graduate, this program has also provided me with the opportunities to travel to Blackpool for the world’s biggest magic convention, intern with a touring magic show, and perform on the steps of the Texas Capitol. This program has given me the experience, resources, and community that have allowed me to be successful so far and continue to dream big.” 

Henry Boehm graduated with a BA in Plan II honors and a BBA in business honors and finance. He will be working for J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Houston.  

“My time at UT has been shaped significantly by my involvement in the Forty Acres Scholars Program. The support of my cohort and the guidance of older scholars along the way has enhanced my college experience beyond anything I could have expected when I first set foot on campus. My fellow scholars have plans to drive technological innovation, bring beautiful art into the world, cure sickness, build companies, and solve tough problems in the world around us. But most importantly, the scholars in this program demonstrate strength of character, integrity, and passion for something larger than themselves. That, to me, is the essence of the Forty Acres Scholars Program, and of The University of Texas.” 

Janelle Chavez graduated with a BSA in biology honors. She will be attending Stanford University School of Medicine as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar.  

"The Forty Acres Scholars Program transformed my life in a matter of years. From funding my service and research experiences to introducing me to alumni in my field, FASP provided me with the resources and opportunities to turn my goals into realities. But most importantly, my life has been enhanced by the supportive FASP staff and my fellow scholars. There is something unique about being surrounded by individuals who are so diverse yet like-minded, and all motivated to improve the world. I am forever grateful and humbled to call myself a Forty Acres Scholar." 

Isabelle Donatelli will be interning for Gensler in New York City this summer before graduating with a BArch in May 2020. After graduation, she plans on taking a gap year to pursue her interest in language by enrolling in immersion programs in China and Italy. 

“Pursuing an architecture degree is a time-intensive and somewhat all-encompassing undertaking. Architecture classes take place is the same three, adjacent buildings over the course of five years. Because of this, it can feel as though one is in a bubble on campus; one feels they are a part of the UT community, but also feels a greater sense of allegiance to the School of Architecture. The Forty Acres Scholars Program has ensured that I have not lost sight of the greater university. By being involved in a university-wide program and cohort, I have been exposed to a variety of perspectives that have been informed by contrasting experiences, and I have had the opportunity to appreciate and participate in vastly differing endeavors in college.”  

Justin Dunlap, Life Member, graduated with a BM in orchestral instrument performance, with trombone as the major instrument. He will be working as a software developer for Capital One in Richmond, Virginia. 

“Since the Forty Acres Scholars Program has been such an integral part of my life over the past four years, it’s hard to even imagine what my college experience would have been like without it. Getting dinner with local business owners, philanthropists, and extraordinary alumni on a monthly basis is something that very, very few people outside of FASP have access to, and that’s only a fraction of what makes this scholarship so incredible. FASP is a scholarship, but it’s also a group of friends that you can have intelligent conversations with. It’s the opportunity to get your foot in the door in virtually any industry. It’s the extracurricular activity that you find yourself getting more and more involved with. I truly believe that I made the best decision in coming to UT, and I think you would be hard-pressed to find another scholar who does not share the same sentiment toward the program.” 

Michael Everett, Life Member, graduated with a BA in government and a BBA in business honors and finance. He will be working as an investment banking analyst for Moelis & Company in New York.  

“The Forty Acres Scholars Program has connected me with Texas Exes in cities around the world, enabled me to live and study in places like Washington, DC and London, and allowed me to explore the unforgettable Galapagos Islands. Most importantly, however, it has introduced me to a group of students who have inspired me to start a student organization on campus, mentored me on career selection, and, above all, provided me with unwavering friendship and support over the past four years. The relationships I have developed in the program will last a lifetime and have made this opportunity so much more than just a scholarship.” 

Ale Flores will intern for Exxon in Houston this summer before graduating with a BBA in business honors in December 2019 and master’s in public accounting in August 2020. After graduation, she is considering moving to the Bay Area to work for the technology industry or staying in Houston for the oil and gas industry. 

"As a Forty Acres Scholar, I’ve been gifted with the opportunity to make lifelong relationships with future leaders of our generation, travel the world to study and volunteer, and most importantly, have a support group of our scholarship’s staff, donors, and peers who believe in me. I'm a first-generation student and FASP helped me with the challenges that come with the college experience. The FASP staff were always an email or text away. The program allowed me to see the behind-the-scenes of the Texas Exes Scholarships Department as an intern and it was truly a humbling and unique experience." 

Jacqueline Gibson, Life Member, graduated with a BSA in computer science and a BA in African and African diaspora studies with departmental honors. She will be working as a software engineer for Microsoft in Seattle. 

“The Forty Acres Scholars Program is more than a program: it’s a community. I first realized this during one of my earliest experiences in the program, our freshman retreat. It was over these days that I realized that I would make friends for life, and this really set the tone for the next four years in the program. FASP emphasizes creating lasting bonds among scholars and giving us a home away from home. We forge friendships with scholars across cohort lines, and we find advisors and mentors in the program staff. The opportunities and programming are unparalleled, and I have been pushed to grow both academically and personally. I have laughed, cried, learned, celebrated and traveled with fellow scholars. I’m glad I had the chance to experience UT with such an amazing support system.” 

Chandler Groves graduated with a BA in Plan II honors and a BBA in business honors and finance. After riding his bike from Austin to Alaska as part of Texas 4000 this summer, he will work as a business analyst for McKinsey & Company in Dallas. 

“The Forty Acres Scholars Program connected me with a community of students who I consider to be lifelong friends. They are a diverse group of students intimately invested in one another’s success. Throughout my time at UT, the program provided me multiple opportunities to travel abroad with my fellow scholars and explore new cultures in South America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. These experiences that I shared with the Forty Acres community will continue to enrich my perspective long after graduation.” 

Mandy Jústiz will be working to publish her thesis and taking the MCAT this summer. Next year, she will apply to medical school and will graduate with BA in Plan II Honors and a BS in nutrition honors as part of the Dean’s Scholars Honors Program in May 2020. 

“It is impossible to put into words the tremendous impact FASP has had on my college career. But perhaps the most enriching aspect of FASP is the incredible community of scholars I am surrounded by every day. With these scholars, I have traveled to Cuba to learn more about Cuban history, government, and culture. I have worked on scholar-led committees to improve scholar recruitment and programming, and I have received scholar counsel on life-changing career choices. From the daily joy of living with scholars to thought-provoking discussions on global issues, I am constantly inspired by the passion, leadership, creativity, and loyalty they embody. My fellow Forty Acres Scholars push and inspire me to be a better person every day, and I am so grateful to have been shaped by their friendship.” 

Omar Mata graduated with a BS in architectural studies. He will pursue marketing contract opportunities in Austin before applying to a master’s program in computer science. 

“My time at UT has been impacted by my involvement in the Forty Acres Scholars Program. Entering college as a dual degree major, and a first-generation college student, was a daunting thing to look forward to. However, having the Forty Acres Scholars Program as a cornerstone of my college experience helped provide me a network of fellow scholars with whom I could rely on as I underwent my scholastic experience. To me, having this level of support in a top-tier institution is a major part of what embodies the Forty Acres Scholars Program.” 

Kelsey Mumford graduated with a BSN and BSA in biology. After interning for Lloyd Doggett in Washington, DC this summer, she will attend Dell Medical School in Austin. 

“In my very first semester, the Forty Acres Scholars Program connected me with alumni in my field and the dean of my college. These individuals have invested in my future and opened numerous opportunities that I would not have had during my time as an undergraduate were it not for this program. Over the years, the program has allowed me to explore new cultures in Europe, Africa, and South America, and each experience in a new country was a unique opportunity to expand my worldview. These experiences will continue to impact my life in many ways long after graduation.” 

Alex Rabinovich graduated with a BBA in business honors and finance. He will be working at Harrison Street Real Estate Capital in Chicago. 

“My time at The University of Texas has been defined by the Forty Acres Scholars Program. For me, the most beneficial part of being in this program are the enrichment opportunities it provides students to study, work, and travel abroad. The Forty Acres Scholars Program provided me with resources to study Spanish in Spain, backpack through Europe, volunteer in Argentina, and study finance in Hong Kong. In addition to the on-campus programming, these experiences provided me with a global perspective I will use in my personal and professional life.” 

Chessie Reece graduated with a BA in government and Plan II honors. She will be working at the Texas Department of Public Safety in the Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division in Austin. 

“The most beneficial aspect of being a Forty Acres Scholar is having a community. On such a huge campus, it’s transformative to have both your cohort—an amazing, talented, passionate group of friends—and a program with staff and alumni dedicated to helping you make the most of your time at UT and beyond. Thinking back, almost every organization or opportunity I was part of in college came to me through an FASP connection, such as traveling to Cuba. I am so grateful to the Forty Acres Scholars Program and to the Class of 2019 cohort for impacting my life so positively throughout these four years.” 

Celia Shaheen will be working at Nezinscot Farm in Turner, Maine this summer as an artist in residence/fiber arts intern. She will also be conducting research for her art history honors thesis in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She will graduate with a BFA in studio art, a BA art history, and a museum studies certificate in May 2020. After graduation, she plans on continuing her work with special collections libraries or museum curation before returning to graduate school for art history/visual and cultural studies and will continue to develop her practice as a fiber artist, papermaker, and printmaker. 

"By far, the greatest gift that the Forty Acres Scholars Program gave me was the opportunity to travel for studies and intensive workshops. In the fall of 2018, I studied bookbinding, textiles, and poetry at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, which gave me an amazing set of tools and room to grow in my practice as an artist and a researcher. Through FASP, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to live and work in beautiful places and among incredible artists in weaving, papermaking, printmaking, and book arts—from North Carolina, to Michigan, to Nova Scotia, Canada. These rich and varied experiences have undoubtedly changed the way I view the world and navigate my work as an archivist, a curator, an art historian, and a maker." 

Audrey Urbis, Life Member, graduated with a BA in Plan II honors and a BBA in finance. This summer, she will be interning for Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. She will also co-author a research paper with a professor at the School of Social Work and will be presenting her thesis research findings at the Education Reach for Texas Conference in Austin.  

“Four years later, I know the greatest contribution of the Forty Acres Scholars Program to my life will be the friendships formed within my cohort. These Scholar friendships have profoundly impacted my undergraduate experience as they will my professional path. Through them, I have learned that a truly transformative education transcends academic bounds. My Scholar friends and I have dreamed, discussed, studied, interned, traveled, led, and learned together. Whether adjusting to life as an exchange student, interning at a new organization, leading a student group, or planning for future endeavors, I have found these friendships to be a consistent source of support and inspiration. I am grateful!”