Forty Acres Scholars Program Class of 2024 Announced
Posted May 7, 2020
The Texas Exes is pleased to announce the Forty Acres Scholars Program Class of 2024. More than 3,800 students applied for the scholarship, which inspires and nurtures visionary leaders and helps them use their talents to benefit society. On March 4-7, 52 impressive finalists visited the UT campus for a full weekend of in-person interviews and a glimpse at what life on the Forty Acres could be.
Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to our 21 new and exceptional Forty Acres Scholars, and to once again thank our amazing donors for making this possible! Among the incoming class are founders and CEOs of nonprofits and local businesses, summer camps, conferences, and online platforms. Also in the mix are STEM leaders, a global researcher, a licensed pilot, four gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award recipients. There are decorated varsity athletes, AP Scholars, accomplished musicians, and leaders of student organizations.
Meet the Class of 2024:
Jackson Bellard from Reno, Nevada, is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by the Humboldt Mandell Family. Bellard, who attended Galena High School, was the mayor for the city of Marti at the Nevada Boys State Program, a bass player in the Reno Youth Philharmonic Orchestra for six years, and a volunteer, youth coach, and participant at the First Tee of Northern Nevada. Bellard has been recognized with the Experimental Aircraft Association Tinker Murdoch Family Flight Award, a National Merit Scholarship Program Letter of Commendation, and as a First Tee Coca-Cola America’s Future semifinalist. Bellard has been flying since he was 8 years old with the Carson City Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program and earned his private pilot’s license before his high school diploma. He plans to major in aerospace engineering with a minor in public policy. He is the son of Bret and Michelle Bellard.
Sydney Collins from Austin, Texas, is the recipient of the Lowell Lebermann Scholarship and the Marilyn Marshall White Enrichment Award. While attending Vandegrift High School, Collins was project manager of a rookie FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team and a participant in both student council and Model UN. Collins was a National Merit Semifinalist and National AP Scholar. She describes herself as a “political junkie,” and loves to solve Rubik’s Cubes. She plans to double major in Plan II Honors and economics while also pursuing studies in the political science and classics departments. She is the daughter of Sabrina and Stuart Collins.
Ethan Davila from McAllen, Texas, is the recipient of the Inman Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Nikki Rowe High School, Davila was a two-time State Qualifier for Mock Trial. He was deemed “Best Leader in the Rio Grande Valley” by the National Hispanic Institute and received the Gold President's Volunteer Service Award. Davila founded Pause for Autism–Rio Grande Valley, which organizes animal therapy events for developmentally disabled children, and worked with Inspirational Pets of South Texas to bring animal therapy to Edinburg Children’s Hospital. Last summer, he presented a capstone research project, "Diabetes: A Texas-Sized Problem," at George Washington University as part of the Caminos Al Futuro Hispanic Leadership Institute. Davila plans to major in public health through the Health Science Scholars Honors Program, with a minor in business. He is the son of Celine Saenz.
Daija Esparza from San Juan, Texas, is the recipient of the Madison Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending PSJA North Early College High School, Esparza served as the senior class vice president, National Honor Society president, and Rio Grande Valley lead ambassador. She was a National AP Scholar, has earned her FFA chapter degree, and was a four-year dean’s list member. She enjoys volunteering and participating in her theatre team, which she has been a member of for four years. A first-generation college student, Esparza plans to major in business honors and explore the fields of marketing and entrepreneurship. She is the daughter of Nelida Garcia.
Will Florer from Dallas, Texas, is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Gayle and Jeff Stouffer. While attending Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, Florer served as student body president. He was a lead actor and student director in multiple productions by the Jesuit Stage and Film Program and worked with individuals with special needs through Camp Barnabas and The Rise School of Dallas. An Eagle Scout and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, Florer received the Gold President's Volunteer Service Award all four years of high school and medaled for “Reading Writing” in UIL’s statewide academic competition. He plans to major in communications and leadership and Plan II Honors through the Moody College Honors Program. He is the son of Gini and John Florer.
Thomas Grannen from Houston, Texas, is the recipient of the Ray and Denise Nixon Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending St. John’s School, Grannen was a four-year starter and two-time captain of the Texas Prep State championship wrestling team and a two-year starter on the varsity football team. An Eagle Scout, Grannen served as crew leader on Philmont Trek, plays the alto saxophone, and is a youth group volunteer with Militia Mariae. Grannen is a native Spanish speaker and lived with a host family in the Dominican Republic last summer through a program with Amigos de las Americas. He is a U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidate, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and a National Merit Scholar. Grannen plans to major in business honors and Plan II Honors and explore the field of Latin American studies. He is the son of Maria Elena and Greg Grannen.
Nikhil Guddati from Flower Mound, Texas, is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Sandy and Phil Green. While attending Flower Mound High School, Guddati held various leadership positions, including captain of the debate team, president of the DECA club, and president of the Model UN club. He is a two-time national qualifier in debate and competed at ICDC for DECA. The National Merit Finalist plans to major in business honors through the Canfield Business Honors Program. He is also interested in exploring the field of finance and in receiving his business and public policy certificate. He is the son of Nirmala Kalidindi and Srinivas Guddati.
Anushka Gupta from Frisco, Texas, is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by the McCombs School of Business. While attending Centennial High School, Gupta was a DECA officer, violist, and intern for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. She was a National Merit Scholar, DECA State Finalist, and a National AP Scholar. Gupta enjoys reading and learning new languages. She plans to major in business honors and finance through the Canfield Business Honors Program with a minor in computer science, and earn a certificate in core texts and ideas through the Jefferson Scholars Program. She is the daughter of Anshu and Sharad Gupta.
Connor Hrachovy from Houston, Texas, is the recipient of the Susie and John L. Adams Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending St. John’s School, Hrachovy co-founded YESbooks to facilitate the distribution of used books throughout the school community, and Young Entrepreneurial Students, which hosts an annual startup competition. He was also involved in Speakers for Students Against Stigma, played varsity football and baseball, and was named an AP Scholar. Hrachovy plans to major in business honors through the Canfield Business Honors Program and in finance, while pursuing a certificate in business and public policy. He is the son of Amanda and Daniel Hrachovy.
Nikita Kakkad from Austin, Texas, is the recipient of the Carol and Gary Kelly Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Westlake High School, Kakkad was the captain of the Westlake Improv Troupe, and the competitive events officer for Health Occupations Students of America, where she qualified twice for state. She was the lead intern for three years at an educational technology startup, a National AP Scholar, National Merit Finalist, and recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award. She has been playing piano since she was 6 years old, and swims for the Western Hills Athletic Club. Kakkad plans to major in biomedical engineering and Plan II Honors, while exploring her interests in public health and French. She is the daughter of Raji and Sheetal Kakkad.
Helen Kalleb from Garland, Texas, is the recipient of the Elizabeth Shatto Massey Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Bishop Lynch High School, Kalleb founded the Fight for a Cure cancer awareness group. She served as president of the multicultural club and student director of the Bishop Lynch Choir, with whom she traveled to Spain and Italy. She served as head tour guide for her high school’s ambassador program and was named an AP Scholar. As a volunteer with her high school youth ministry, she travelled to Costa Rica on a mission trip. A first-generation college student, Kalleb plans to major in nursing and continue studying the Spanish language. She is the daughter of Tewelde and Senait Kalleb.
Sara Kothia from Frisco, Texas, is the recipient of the Jeanne L. and Michael L. Klein Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Imagine International Academy of North Texas, Kothia was president of the Junior World Affairs Council. Last summer, she was a research intern for UT Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth and a U.S. Representative for the Global Encounters Summer Program, where she was one of only nine students from the U.S. selected to participate in a global leadership program in Hyderabad, India. Kothia has been named a Dallas World Affairs Council/ExxonMobil 20 Under 20 and awarded the Global Young Leaders Program Global Leadership Certificate. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing with a minor in entrepreneurship. She is the daughter of Zaheda and Dean Kothia.
Sophia Li from Murphy, Texas, is the recipient of the Charline and Red McCombs Family Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Plano East Senior High School, Li was salutatorian of her class, vice president of the UNICEF club, and president of United Sound, which teaches students with learning disabilities how to play an instrument. She is the founder and president of Presto, a nonprofit ensemble group dedicated to community service. Li was a National Merit Finalist, an All-State cellist, and recipient of the Silver President’s Volunteer Service Award. She plans to major in business honors and computer science through the Texas Honors Computer Science and Business Program. She is the daughter of Ming Zhang and Yuqi Li.
Amanda Mackenzie from Fort Worth, Texas, is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Beverly and Will O'Hara. While attending Trinity Valley School, she was a three-year varsity cheerleader, president of Trojan Tutors—a club that tutors elementary school students at Chapel Hill Academy—and three-year volunteer at Camp Barnabas, where she discovered her passion for working with the special needs community. Mackenzie was named an AP Scholar with Distinction, a member of the Centenary Society, and a member of the headmaster’s list for earning A’s in every subject. She plans to major in youth and community studies with a concentration in special populations and a minor in American Sign Language. She is the daughter of Kelly and Terry Mackenzie.
Lana Mohamed from San Antonio, Texas, is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Diana and S. Todd Maclin. While attending Claudia Taylor Johnson High School, Mohamed served as president of Model UN and student ambassador for the National Society of High School Scholars. She also interned at the Esperanza Center for Peace and Justice. She was named a Distinguished National Spanish Exam Scholar, Best Delegate at the National High School Model UN Conference, and received the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. Mohamed is fluent in Arabic, Sudanese, and English. She plans to major in computer science with a minor in finance. She is the daughter of Mohamed Siyam and Riem Elsaid.
Aria Morgan from Rowlett, Texas, is the recipient of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Garland High School, Morgan served as co-captain of the Bell Guards spirit team and was a member of the International Thespian Society. She was secretary for the City of Rowlett’s Youth Council and created a youth life class called “Adulting 101.” She was a National Merit Commended Scholar, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and the recipient of the Military Order of the World Wars Bronze Patrick Henry Award. Morgan plans to pursue a major in theatre and dance with a minor in philosophy of law. She is the daughter of Miranda and Jarvis Morgan.
Alice Nguyen from Friendswood, Texas, is the recipient of the Marilyn and Ron Neiman Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Friendswood High School, Nguyen served as a four-year class president and National Honor Society president and was a regional champion in the Academic Decathlon Honors Division. Nguyen was a National Merit Finalist, National AP Scholar, and recipient of the Maureen O’Donnell Oxford Classical Dictionary Memorial Award for her four years of summa cum laude honors on the National Latin Exam. Nguyen plans to major in business honors and management information systems, and to earn certificates in both business of health care and core texts and ideas. She is the daughter of Mai Duong and Duy Nguyen.
Amelia Nickerson from Leander, Texas, is the recipient of the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Vandegrift High School, Nickerson served as president of DECA and founded Code Chicks—a free summer camp to teach elementary school girls the basics of coding—for which the National Center for Women and Technology (NCWIT) awarded her $3,000. She is also the cofounder and chief development officer of Archons Tutoring, an online peer-to-peer tutoring platform. Nickerson was a three-time international qualifier and international finalist in DECA and named a National AP Scholar. Nickerson plans to major in business honors and computer science through the Texas Honors Computer Science and Business Program. She is the daughter of Julia and James Nickerson.
Devan Patel from Plano, Texas, is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by the McCombs School of Business. While attending St. Mark’s School of Texas, Patel served as varsity captain of the cross-country team, a community service board member, and co-chair of the school’s annual STEM conference. He was named National Merit Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, and received the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. An avid juggler, Patel was president of the juggling club and founder of his school’s International Youth Neuroscience Association chapter. He plans to double major in business honors and Plan II Honors, with a focus on pre-med. He is the son of Seema and Rajeev Patel.
Olivia Pierce from South Easton, Massachusetts, is the recipient of the Annabel and Robert Moore Forty Acres Scholarship and the Chevron Enrichment Award. While attending Oliver Ames High School, Pierce placed in the top three for three consecutive years at Massachusetts DECA. She founded a Middle School STEM Career Discovery Conference to teach students about STEM careers, and served on her local STEM Outreach Board, where she was a keynote speaker at the regional STEM network meeting. She was a STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) program intern and was honored as one of the Mars Generation’s 24 Under 24 Leaders and Innovators in STEAM and Space. She’s received the Massachusetts House, Senate, and Governor’s Citations for outstanding work in STEM outreach. Pierce plans to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering through the Engineering Honors Program. She is the daughter of Kimberly and Daniel Pierce.
Walter Stark from Plano, Texas, is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by the Cockrell School of Engineering. While attending Plano Senior High School, Stark served as head mechanical captain at the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition, president of the Science/Engineering Fair, and captain of the speech and debate team. He was a finalist at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF); a four-year qualifier for the World Championship for FIRST Tech Challenge; and a FIRST Tech Challenge Dean’s List Finalist. Stark plans to major in mechanical engineering (with a focus on robotics) and computer science, while earning a certificate in business. He is the son of Laura and Tracy Stark.