Forty Acres Scholars Program Class of 2027 Announced

Posted May 10, 2023


The Texas Exes is pleased to announce the Forty Acres Scholars Program Class of 2027. This program inspires and nurtures visionary leaders and helps them use their talents to benefit society. On March 2–4, 64 impressive finalists joined our staff and current Scholars on the UT campus for a full weekend showcasing life on the Forty Acres. The weekend included visits to their admitted colleges, a mock class with a UT professor, a field tour in the DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, networking dinners, informative panels, and more—all concluding with an individual interview.   

Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to our 20 new and exceptional Forty Acres Scholars. Among the incoming class are founders of community service programs, school clubs, and businesses. Also in the mix are five high school valedictorians, a Presidential Service Award recipient, and eight AP Scholars with Distinction. Many more are decorated varsity athletes, team captains, club presidents, and accomplished musicians.   

These Scholars will receive full funding for their tuition, a living stipend, a book stipend, and opportunities for enrichment activities including a global experience, professional and personal development, volunteer and service opportunities, and the chance to help further their education. As the only program of its kind administered by an alumni association, the Forty Acres Scholars Program helps Scholars develop a unique connection with their alma mater—and with each other. Over their four years on campus, Scholar cohorts form a tight bond with each other and serve as a powerful network and resource to each other during their time on campus and beyond. 


Meet the Class of 2027:  


Jasmine Benau from Houston, Texas is the recipient of the AIM Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Mayde Creek High School, Benau held numerous leadership positions including being president of the Key Club and the National Honor Society, FBLA secretary/historian, and a class officer. She also served as the Cypress ISD and Katy ISD Area V Vice President for Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). She was the first student at her high school to be elected to an Area V Office for FBLA in over 10 years. Benau’s awards and recognitions include being the first known African-American salutatorian in the 39-year history of her school, a school recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizens Program award, recognized as a College Board National African American Recognition Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, selected by College Board to participate in their study for the Digital SAT Pilot Program, and served on the Katy ISD Safety & Security Advisory Board. Throughout high school, she explored her interest in business by attending summer programs with the National Association of Black Accountants, nationally (virtual) and locally at the University of Houston and participating in the University of Georgia Accelerated Business Program at the University of Georgia. Benau plans to major in Canfield Business Honors Program and minor in Management Information Systems. She is the daughter of Toni Benau. 


Pamela Chow from Spring, Texas is the recipient of the Sylvie and Gary Crum Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Tomball High School, Chow participated in Varsity Tennis and served as Senior Class President and a Camp Blessing Counselor. She loves photography and would like to take some photography classes at UT. Chow’s awards and recognitions include National Merit Commended Scholar/Hispanic Recognition Award, AP Capstone Diploma, and AP Scholar with Distinction. She plans to major in Canfield Business Honors and focus on pre-med with a double-major in biology. She is the daughter of Patricia Lomeli and Jose Chow. 


Layla Crear from Houston, Texas is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship supported by Aaron & Lara Marie Thielhorn Charitable Fund. While attending the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Crear participated as the President of the Thespian Society, Innoverge Programs Head, and the Vice President of the Black Student Union. Over covid she created a medical PPE business, where she designed and produced custom PPE for various clients in the medical field across the US. Crear’s awards and recognitions include 2x Outstanding Costume Tommy Tune Nominee, Science National Honor Society, and Senior Ambassador of the Theatre Department. She plans to major in Fine Arts – Theater with an emphasis in costume design, as well as Communications – PR, and a minor in Entrepreneurship. She is the daughter of Shelah and Chris Crear. 


Matthew Creixell from Dallas, Texas is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship supported by Lana Jones and Will O’Hara, and the Chevron Enrichment Award. While attending Cistercian Preparatory School, Creixell participated as Editor in Chief of the school yearbook (Exodus), Starting Varsity Goalkeeper for an undefeated, state championship winning team, and Secretary for Cistercian's College Ambassadors Program. He also conducted research at a cacao farm in Chiapas, Mexico. Creixell’s awards and recognitions include the Cum Laude Society, French National Exam Gold Award (4 years), AP Scholar with Distinction, and graduating as valedictorian of his class. He plans to major in Chemical Engineering and Plan II Honors. He is the son of Mallory and Gerardo Creixell. 


Ella Folh from Sugar Land, Texas is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Jeanne L. and Michael L. Klein. While attending George Ranch High School, Folh participated as an officer in her school's National Honor Society, and Spanish Honor Society. She worked alongside the Sugar Land Mayor and city government as a member of an Advisory Council. Folh founded a school-wide tutoring program and coordinated an academic award banquet to recognize underclassmen academic achievements at her high school. She has also worked since she was 15 as a lifeguard, and now works in catering at Rudy's BBQ. Folh’s awards and recognitions include AP Scholar with Distinction, National Merit Recognition for Hispanic and Rural students, and placed 1st in 2023 UIL/Best of Texas preliminary rounds for math events. She plans to major in Nursing Honors and pursue her interest in research. She is the daughter of Devra and Joe Folh. 


Benjamin Howell from Mableton, Georgia is the recipient of the Jeanne L. and Michael L. Klein Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending South Cobb High School, Howell participated as Founder of the Entrepreneurship Club, Graduating Senior Class Vice President of Student Government, and Vice President of Current Issues Club. He runs two successful businesses, founded a charity that provides shoes, clothes, and hygiene products to the homeless, and is a YouTube/TikTok content creator. Howell’s awards and recognitions include Academic Excellence Award, Best Leader Senior Superlative, and Most Persistent & Dedicated Track Athlete. He plans to major in Nursing as well as Biochemistry/Pre-med. He is the son of Corinne and Joe Howell.  


Olivia Jacoby from Southlake, Texas is the recipient of the Waltrip/Texas Exes Fort Worth Chapter Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Carroll Senior High School, Jacoby participated as captain and a four-year member of the Texas 6A State Champion 2022 Varsity Lady Dragon Soccer Team, serving as the only junior captain 2021‒22 season and as a senior captain of the number one ranked team in the state of Texas. She organized the Inaugural First Responders Event, recognizing and celebrating all first responders in my community. Jacoby’s awards and recognitions include The Ben Hogan Perseverance Award, given to only four students—high school or college—in Texas each year, recognizing students who have overcome adversity or injury and returned to excel in their respective sports. She is soon to be featured on the Hogan Mystique Podcast, a platform on which professional athletes and others share inspiring stories. Jacoby is also a Southlake Carroll High School Green Jacket—chosen by faculty as an exemplum of integrity and for her commitment to excellence to be an ambassador of her campus, school district, and community. She plans to major in Communication and Leadership in the Moody Honors Program and pursue a Business minor. She is the daughter of Stacy J. Hoelscher and Jeff Jacoby. 


Karla Jimenez from Brownsville, Texas is the recipient of the Madison Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Los Fresnos High School, Jimenez participated as Student Body President, Co-Marketing Director at the Institute for Youth in Policy, and a 4-year Varsity Extemporaneous Persuasive Speech. She loves serving at church and preaching at youth group. It was her first window to public speaking and fostered her love for the Spanish language. Jimenez co-founded and managed a community giving project called United Against Poverty to donate more than 1,000 clothing items to children in my school district, feed over 30 families, and gift 100 Christmas gifts to members of my community. The purpose of the project was to make an impact in her minority border town after COVID-19 worsened poverty in the area. Jimenez’s awards and recognitions include being a National AP Scholar with Honors, a DECA International (ICDC) Qualifier, and a National Hispanic Scholar. She plans to major in Business with a minor in Spanish and a Certificate in Ethics and Leadership in Business. She is the daughter of Karem Gonzalez and Carlos Jimenez. 


Kyler Larsen from College Station, Texas is the recipient of the Bransford Trust Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending A&M Consolidated High School, Larsen participated as Founder of College Station Code Society (CS++), a local coding club that brings students of all backgrounds together to learn the magic of coding, Co-Founder and President of local branch of GoBabyGo, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing mobility and sociability for children with movement disabilities, and as President of Mu Alpha Theta, captaining UIL math teams to state. He also loves to play violin, piano, and basketball. Larsen’s awards and recognitions include winning first place at Texas Junior Academy of Sciences with research on MRI reconstruction using novel deep learning techniques and presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, Presidential Volunteer Service Gold Award recipient, and 5x American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) Qualifier. He will be graduating as the valedictorian of his class. He plans to major in Computer Science and Business Honors as a Turing Scholar with a Double Major in Mathematics and a Business minor. He is the son of Jadie Guo and Daniel Larsen. 


Jared Levy from New York, New York is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship supported by Lauren and Brad Morgan Family. While attending Abraham Joshua Heschel School, Levy participated as Student Body President, Captain of the Varsity Baseball Team during junior and senior year, and a soloist for his high school a capella group. He was also a Student Ambassador for his high school and founded his school's Sports Analytics club and Intramural sports league. Levy was in his high school's musical as a senior. He is also fluent in Hebrew. As Student Body President, Levy organized his high school's first ever volunteer fair where he connected students in his high school with 25+ nonprofit organizations. He plans to major in Plan II Honors and Religious Studies and hopes to explore Government, Business, and Philosophy. He is the son of Rabbi Rachel Ain and Rabbi Dave Levy. 


Tina Luo from Flower Mound, Texas is the recipient of the George Kozmetsky Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Flower Mound High School, Luo participated as editor in chief of newspaper and literary magazine, president of Spanish Honor Society, and co-founder of a nonprofit dedicated to helping English learners around the world practice with native speakers. Luo’s awards and recognitions include UIL journalism state winner, DECA international qualifier, National Merit Finalist, and valedictorian of her graduating class. She plans to major in Business Honors with an additional major in Business Analytics or Finance and a Certificate in Business Spanish. She is the daughter of Duojia Liu and Yongtao Luo. 


Marco Ma from Sugar Land, Texas is the recipient of the Elizabeth Shatto Massey and John H. Massey Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending William P. Clements High School, Ma participated as President of my school's Rotary Interact Club, 3-Year Varsity Letter on the Varsity Swimming and Diving Team, and Executive Director of Expansion at Steel City Codes. Ma’s awards and recognitions include 4x TFA State and 2x NSDA National Debate Tournament Qualifier in both Lincoln-Douglas where he is the East Texas Regional Champion and World Schools Debate, Presidential Scholars Program Nominee, and AP Scholar with Distinction. He plans to major in Canfield Business Honors and hopes to add another major in either MIS or Finance. He is the son of Ying Zhou and Ning Ma. 


Kennon McNew from Robinson, Texas is the recipient of the Friends of Darrell K Royal Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Robinson High School, McNew participated as the president of his Junior class, Senior class, as well as National Honor Society President. He has been a three-year regional qualifier in varsity golf and served as a Peer Assistance leader (PAL) serving as a mentor to younger students. McNew’s awards and recognitions include receiving 1st team Academic All-State honors in football and golf, 2x academic UIL district champion and regional qualifier in Social Studies and Current Issues and Events and was recognized in the Wacoan magazine 2023 Star Student edition. McNew will be graduating as valedictorian of his class. He plans to major in Sports Management and minor in Business. He is the son of Tamara and Ross McNew.   


Grace Ogden from San Antonio, Texas is the recipient of the Lenora and Walter F. Brown Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Saint Mary’s Hall, Ogden participated in Speech and Debate as the Public Address team captain, team captain of the varsity volleyball team, and did an internship in the Biostatistics department of UT Health San Antonio working on geocoding. Ogden's awards and recognitions include 2023 Presidential Scholar Candidate, National Merit Finalist, and AP Scholar with Distinction. She plans to major in Statistics & Data Science, Plan II Honors, and Polymathic Scholars. Ogden also plans to explore her interests in computer science and machine learning. She is the daughter of Julia and Chad Ogden.   


Akash Pradeep from Plano, Texas is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship supported by Anne Q. Smith. While attending Liberty High School, Pradeep participated as the Liberty Orchestra Vice President, Civil Air Patrol Cadet Chief Master Sergeant, and National Art Honor Society Officer. He can juggle, play cello, fly planes, and is a black belt in Taekwondo. He also loves the Washington Nationals and Dallas Mavericks. Pradeep’s awards and recognitions include the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design Footwear Design Scholarship, 1st place at Collin College Hackathon sponsored by NETSCOUT Arbor Security. He plans on majoring in Design and Creative Technologies with a computer science certificate and a minor in Spanish. He is the son of Sindhu Pradeep and Pradeep Narendran.  


Georgia Rocap from Lubbock, Texas is the recipient of the Stuart W. Stedman Forty Acres Scholarship and the Marilyn Marshall White Enrichment Award. While attending Lubbock High School, Rocap participated as Student Body President, Mock Trial Co-Captain, and NHS Vice President. She works at Gong Cha as a Barista and enjoys creating art in her free time. Her art has been held in the State Capital and showcased at "First Friday Art Trails," a local art event. Rocap’s awards and recognitions include Best Advocate (Mock trial), 110% Award (National Charity League), and Cross Country MVP. She plans to major in Environmental Science (Biological Track) and Plan II. She hopes to further explore her artistic side by taking art classes. She is the daughter of Catherine and Bruce Rocap. 


Akshaya Sakala from Camas, Washington is the recipient of the Barbara and Alan Dreeben Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Camas High School, Sakala participated as the Camas DECA Officer and Washington DECA State Officer, American Red Cross - Camas Red Cross President, and regional Youth Council Officer MyVote Project (a student-run voter education organization), onboarding lead and National Leadership Team Member. Sakala led a campaign to educate middle and high school students about marketing and branding and raised 7K+ annually by selling student-developed coffee brands to the community. Sakala’s awards and recognitions include National Merit Scholar Commended Student, DECA 6th Place Internationally in an Operations Research Event and four-time international qualifier, eCYBERMISSION (competition that promotes the real-life application of STEM) 1st Place. She was awarded the Mill Town Pride Award (local award for exceptional community service). She plans to major in Canfield Business Honors with a potential double major in BHP and Finance with a Computational Science and Engineering Certificate. She is the daughter of Padmaja and Ramesh Sakala. 


Abigail Tomaski from Houston, Texas is the recipient of the Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship supported by Patrick L. Cook. While attending Memorial Senior High School, Tomaski participated as a four-year dual-sport varsity athlete in basketball (captain and 4-year starter) and track & field, founder and president of the Mustang Military Support Club that organizes various patriotic activities and partners with organizations to support and show respect for our military, President of National English Honor Society. She was a McDonald's All-American Nominee (national nomination for excellence in girls high school basketball), 4-year First Team All District and Academic All District Team (basketball), and Academic All State (basketball). Tomaski’s awards and recognitions include 6-Year Presidential Service Award Winner (5 gold and 1 bronze), 6-Time Recipient of the Award of Excellence, Memorial High School Principal's Award. She will be graduating as valedictorian of her class. She plans to major in Biomedical Engineering and pursue a Pre-med track. She is the daughter of Leigh and Richard Tomaski. 


Jaylen Waithe from Virginia Beach, Virginia is the recipient of the Cain, Denius, McGill Family Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Battlefield High School, Waithe participated in the Prince William County Black Student Union Coalition where he founded and led a group of students and worked alongside various county government officials, school division cabinet members, and local social justice organizations to perform countywide advocacy surrounding socioeconomic disparities and cultural insensitivities across Prince William County, VA. He was also in the Virginia Governor's World Language Academy and French Honor Society, and Active Minds Mental Health Advocacy where he served as a student mental health expert, student ambassador, public speaker, and social media correspondent for Active Minds. Waithe has been speaking French since the sixth grade and had the opportunity to conversate with native speakers during a vacation to France (Paris, Versailles, and Giverny) with his family this past spring break. As a proud Barbadian-American, he grew up eating his favorite food, Bajan macaroni pie, which sparked a life-long dedication to macaroni and cheese hobby connoisseurship. Waithe’s awards and recognitions include being a SAT 99th Percentile Scorer, National African American Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, and a 2023 Prince William Living Extraordinary Teens Award Winner. He plans to major in Advertising with a minor in French Studies or Real Estate. He is the son of Sadé Rodman and Corey Waithe.  


Andrés Alejandro Yengle-Terr from Houston, Texas is the recipient of the Tom and Sally Dunning Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending The Post Oak School, Yengle-Terr participated as a Montessori Model United Nations Bureau Member and Teacher's Assistant, Co-Planner of two-week death penalty and law intensive course, and Post Oak High School Community Council Member. His awards and recognitions include being a member of the National Honor Society and College Board National Hispanic Recognition. Yengle-Terr plans on majoring in Social Work and Plan II honors with a Law, Justice, and Society minor. He is the son of Naomi Terr and Carlos Yengle.