At Second-Annual Enrichment Symposium, Forty Acres Scholars Share Life-Changing Experiences

Posted September 25, 2019


Forty Acres Scholars discuss their UT Austin experiences on a panel at the 2019 Enrichment Symposium.

Navigating the years at UT holds a multitude of opportunities for students. They join organizations and teams, deepen their creative passions, and immerse themselves in chosen fields of study. While those experiences are an integral part of their years on the Forty Acres, per the motto, students are encouraged to broaden their horizons and explore beyond campus confines. That exploration is what 28 students shared at the second annual Forty Acres Scholars Program Enrichment Symposium on Friday, Sept. 20.  

As a Forty Acres Scholar, students are gifted an enrichment stipend to use at any point in their collegiate career to further their professional or academic goals. The $13,000 stipend facilitates students’ travels abroad, volunteer work for renowned programs, and active learning with professionals, professors and peers in their field. The symposium offered a platform for students to share their travels and teachings gathered as far as Washington, D.C., Madrid, and Hong Kong. 

Scholars who spoke used their money in the past year, participating in internships, research, study, or service. For six sessions throughout the day, students elaborated on their personal and professional development, responding to questions posed by Ann Seals, BS ’81, Life Member, Scholarship Advisory Committee member, and David Jones, BS ’68, MS ’70, Life Member, Texas Exes board member and committee chair. Students offered stories including the biggest challenges, favorite moments, and their primary takeaways.  

Business honors sophomore Lucious McDaniel IV studied supply chain management in Hong Kong through his study abroad program. He and peers from his trip, business honors and finance sophomore Anne La Grange, and business honors and Plan II junior Ashley Deuster, say they not only got to experience a country where they had to learn how to adapt to a new culture, but also got a firsthand look at a business model they hope to pursue in the future.  

“The main reason I chose to go [to Hong Kong] was because I knew this program, more so than anything else, would be immersive,” McDaniel says. “We got to follow packages all the way through the supply chain and see the type of world and global business system that very few people get to see.”  

While the experiences varied for students, many had similar reflective remarks regarding their host countries in comparison with the U.S., observing a degree of privilege they all felt. Following his passion for health care, Min Kim, a junior studying biochemistry, took a medical mission trip to Honduras and was surprised at the lack of simple healthy practices, like washing hands.  

“That was the major culture shock that I had, realizing the gap of privilege is so much greater than I thought,” Kim says. “We have a lot of work to do. It’s not just sending over medics. It’s a bit frightening even—there’s so much work to do—but also it’s a new challenge for us.” 

Mary Margaret Burniston, a junior in humanities honors and human dimensions of organizations, and business honors sophomore Melissa Porras Paniagua, echoed Kim’s cultural observation citing education inequality and pay disparities as places their countries abroad fell short. Their acknowledgment came with a mission to capitalize on the opportunities they’ve been afforded and plans to share them.  

“I conducted all my research on gender disparities in comparison to the United States, and I was very shocked by what I found. There are a lot of tradeoffs, but there are a lot of setbacks and women aren't able to progress as much as they are in the United States,” Porras Paniagua says. "It's something that we're working on here, so I'm going to continue to my research on what can be done in both places.”  

At the end of each session, students seemed to agree they would relive their trips and capitalize on the opportunities if given another chance, especially following lessons in independence and self-reliance. 

The Texas Exes Association thanks Seals, Jones and all the Scholars who shared their experiences at the Forty Acres Scholars Enrichment Symposium. Below is a list of the students who participated in the second annual symposium.  

Internship (Abroad)

Carlyn Crow: The Intern Group; Hong Kong, China

Ashish Dave: The Beacon Fellowship; Madrid, Spain

Emma Rappold: FilmNation Internship at Toronto International Film Festival; Toronto, Canada. Mister Smith Entertainment; London, England. Pathé UK; London, England

Study Abroad (Business Programs)

Marshall Comeaux: CBHP International Management; Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ashley Deutser: Supply Chain Management; Hong Kong, China

Anne La Grange: Supply Chain Management; Hong Kong, China

Lucious McDaniel IV: Supply Chain Management; Hong Kong, China

Shilpa Rajagopal: International Management; Prague, Czech Republic

Michael Smith: CBHP International Management; Buenos Aires, Argentina

Study Abroad

Phillip Boltan: Maymester—Advanced Nanotechnology & Innovation; Tokyo, Japan

Mary Margaret Burniston: Oxford Summer Program; Oxford, England

Will Clark: University of Glasgow; Glasgow, Scotland. Institute of Continuing Education; Cambridge, England

Patrick Molina: Human Biology on the Spanish Coast; Santander, Spain

Melissa Porras Paniagua: French Summer Program; Lyon, France

Lauren Smith: Summer Program in Communications Erfurt (SPICE); Erfurt, Germany

Jill Young: Prague Summer Program; Prague, Czech Republic


Sabrina Benitez: Humanity First—Gift of Health Trip; Antigua, Guatemala

Min Kim: Medical Mission Trip, Honduras

John McDonald: UBELONG; Galapagos, Ecuador

Study Abroad (Semester Away)

Ryan Diebner: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Hong Kong, China

Lindsey Jacobe: IES Barcelona; Barcelona, Spain

Smitha Nagar: University of Edinburgh; Edinburgh, Scotland

Hannah Penley: University of Tampere; Tampere, Finland

Emma Rappold: University of Sussex; Brighton, England

Internship & Research

Brian Chavez: Dell Children’s Medical Center; Austin, Texas

Ricky Cooks: Congressman Lloyd Doggett; Washington, D.C.

Alicia Crespin: ExxonMobil; Houston, Texas

Vikram Ramanathan: Lockheed Martin; Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Austin Witt: City Leadership; Memphis, Tennessee