Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

Posted May 18, 2021


Throughout their four years on campus, the 13 scholars in the Class of 2021 founded businesses and organizations and held key leadership positions. They researched, interned, and studied abroad around the world—all while supporting one another and earning a combined 22 undergraduate degrees.  

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


Sabrina Benitez  Full bio

Sabrina graduated with a BSA in Biology. She will be attending medical school on a full tuition merit scholarship to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. 

“The Forty Acres Scholars Program has been my home for the past 4 years,” Sabrina says. “It has provided me with a sense of community and belonging on such a large campus. I always look forward to events where I can catch up with my fellow scholars and be inspired by their amazing accomplishments on the Forty Acres and beyond!” 

Sabrina was a recipient of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Forty Acres Scholarship. 

Mary Margaret Burniston  Full bio

Mary Margaret graduated with a BA in Government and Humanities Honors. She will be joining Facebook as a contract research assistant on the Central Integrity Team. 

"The Forty Acres Scholars Program has really impacted every aspect of my college experience. I have cherished being a part of a community of such incredible and interesting people, and I have learned so much from fellow scholars and scholar alumni. I am very grateful for every way the Forty Acres Scholars Program has impacted my college experience, from supporting my summer in Oxford, England and my semester in Washington, D.C., to every semester at UT in between.” 

Mary Margaret was a recipient of the Hobby/Beckworth Forty Acres Scholarship. 

Olivia Cardenas  Full bio

Olivia graduated with a BA in Plan II Honors and History. She will be attending law school at Duke University in the fall of 2021. 

"Forty Acres is unique for the level of personal investment it offers each of us,” Olivia says. “From programming that facilitates professional development and cohort bonding, FASP has been my home at UT. It’s the people who make this program what it is—everyone from the staff to fellow scholars to alumni have made me feel empowered, supported, and inspired. I am eternally grateful for this experience and the people I have met along the way. I leave this program with lifelong friends who I know will never stop learning and working to leave this world better than they found it. I am inspired by them to do the same. These four years have been a period of intellectual and personal development and having the Forty Acres community in my corner has made all the difference.” 

Olivia was a recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Jeanne L. and Michael L. Klein. 

Ricky Cooks  Full bio

Ricky graduated with a BA in Government and a minor in business. He will be working as a Staff Assistant for the U.S. House Financial Services Committee in Washington, D.C. 

"During college, I’ve learned that the best expectations are the ones you set for yourself,” Ricky says. “In a school with so many impressive and accomplished students, it can be easy to compare yourself to others. I've found that I am at my best when I set my own goals and my make own plans to achieve them.” 

Ricky was a recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Beverly and Will O'Hara and the Chevron Enrichment Award. 

Carlyn Crow  Full bio

Carlyn graduated with a BA in Plan II Honors, a BBA in Business Honors and Marketing, and a minor in entrepreneurship. She will be a 6-12 Grade Math Teacher in rural Idaho with Teach for America. 

“FASP has surpassed all of my expectations of how the three pillars of Community, Connection, and Discovery have impacted my college experience. The FASP Community has given me a lifelong best friend, an awesome roomie, an inspiring mentee, a loving donor, and constant faculty support. FASP Connections have led me to meet UT Presidents, deans, professors, and distinguished alumni. Discovery has led me to studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and to interning in Hong Kong where I worked with folks from all over the world while writing about arts and culture! I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for the opportunities and experiences this program has provided me. This is a program I plan to give back to with my time, knowledge, and resources for the rest of my life.” 

Carlyn was a recipient of the Charline and Red McCombs Family Forty Acres Scholarship and the Marilyn Marshall White Enrichment Award. 

Ashley Deutser  Full bio

Ashley graduated with a BBA in Business Honors and a BA in Plan II Honors. She will be staying in Austin and working in the better-for-you food and beverage space, hopefully launching her product later this year.

“From my first day at UT, I knew I had a family in my cohort that would become some of my closest friends,” Ashley says. “Over the years that has proven true time and time again. These are people I have gotten to travel the world with—studying the politics of Catholicism in Rome, the supply chain in Hong Kong, or sustainability in Copenhagen—thanks to this program. Now that I am going out into the world, I am so excited to see what my fellow scholars will do and know that I have the full force of the Texas Exes behind my back. I am so thankful to my donors, Forty Acres Society members, and the FASP staff for making this program completely life-changing. I am forever grateful that the Forty Acres Scholars Program made me a lifelong Longhorn. Hook ’em!” 

Ashley was a recipient of the John and Cynthia Adkins/Texas Exes Houston Chapter Forty Acres Scholarship. 

Min Jun Kim  Full bio

Min graduated with a BS in Biochemistry with Honors. He will be working and researching at a local clinic while taking a gap year before starting medical school next fall. 

“The Forty Acres Scholars Program, and my cohort in particular, have set the standard and example for me all throughout college: to dream big and pursue excellence in everything I do, just as they have,” Min says. “This group of incredibly accomplished and diverse individuals has also inspired me to go beyond my comfort zone in my learning and, in turn, taught me a broader, more interdisciplinary perspective. Most importantly, though, they've been a community—friends who have grown together and supported each other through the ups and downs of the past four years, and will continue to do so. I am so proud and grateful to have spent my college years as a part of this family.” 

Min was a recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by S. Todd and Diana Maclin. 

Joe Levin  Full bio

Joe graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a BA in Plan II Honors. He will be freelance writing in Austin, focusing on sports journalism. 

"I couldn't imagine college without the Forty Acres Scholars Program,” Joe says. “My fellow scholars have inspired me, explored with me, and become some of my dearest friends in the world. Through the Texas Exes, I've been able to develop a closer relationship with professors, deans, and alumni across the globe. I'm so grateful to have been able to be a part of it!” 

Joe was a recipient of the Eugene McDermott Forty Acres Scholarship. 

John McDonald  Full bio

John graduated with a BBA in Business Honors. He will be working for a healthcare start-up and then applying to medical school this cycle. 

“The Program has been life-changing. The alumni and events have given me the opportunity to pursue my professional goals. The enrichment stipend enabled me to explore interests outside my major. And my cohort has served as my family away from home. I view this unique program as a community filled with extraordinary faculty, accomplished alumni, and supportive students who all want their fellow scholars to succeed. I am very thankful to have been selected into such an impressive program!” 

John was a recipient of the Sylvie and Gary Crum Forty Acres Scholarship. 

Ronen Melloul  Full bio

Ronen graduated with a BBA in Business Honors and Management Information Systems. He will be returning to Houston to work with Entera Realty. 

“The Forty Acres Scholars Program is a community more than it is a scholarship,” Ronen says. “The opportunity to grow my friendships and serve as a resource to others in the program led me to the Forty Acres. Studying abroad twice brought me a wealth of knowledge and invaluable experiences. For this, I am grateful, blessed, and thankful for the Program’s support.” 

Ronen was a recipient of the AIM Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. 

Yessmeen Moharram  Full bio

Yessmeen graduated with a BS in Radio-Television-Film, a BA in Theatre (with a focus in stage management), and a minor in Arts Management and Administration. She plans on moving to New York and continuing her career in film. 

"College teaches you so much about yourself in so many ways beyond the classroom,”  Yessmeen says. “I would not have been able to have the same college experience without this program! Because of FASP, I was so lucky to become so involved in my departments and connected to people all over the university. Without FASP, I would not have been able to continue my education due to the cost.” 

Yessmeen was a recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by the College of Fine Arts. 

Hannah Penley  Full bio

Hannah graduated with a BS in Mathematics and a UTeach Certification. She will be teaching high school mathematics and coaching cross country and soccer. 

"All my enrichment opportunities from the Forty Acres Scholars Program were so incredible!" Hannah says. "Something that will always stick with me is my time student teaching and observing in various schools around the world. Experiencing different education systems around the world really intensified my passion for teaching. I am beyond excited to be able to help students learn and grow!” 

Hannah was a recipient of the Mary John and Ralph Spence Forty Acres Scholarship. 

Shilpa Rajagopal  Full bio

Shilpa graduated with a BSA in Biology and a BBA in Marketing. She will be serving as a Community Health Fellow with the nonprofit organization Project Horseshoe Farm. 

"The Forty Acres Scholars Program has gifted me with an incredible community of friends, mentors, and role models,” Shilpa says. “Coming into college with a varied set of interests, I am grateful that this program provided a space for me to not only pursue an interdisciplinary education, but also share these experiences with and learn alongside others. The collaborative, uplifting energy of the program has helped me better understand what it means to lead through service and compassion, and I know I will continue to feel this sense of support and connectedness to FASP for years to come.” 

Shilpa was a recipient of the Erin and Thomas A. Bunkley Forty Acres Scholarship.