Kelly Heape Parsons ’85 didn’t take her first international trip until three years after graduating from Texas A&M, and she wanted to ensure students who followed her through Mays Business School got an opportunity to do that earlier than she did.

She funded a $100,000 gift to establish the Kelly Heape Parsons ’85 Business Honors Program International Travel Endowment. Distributions from the endowment will be used for international travel support for business honors students. Business Honors is a program within Mays that provides 30 hours of honors course work, including an internship, as well as extensive professional development opportunities. Business Honors students also earn a double major with no additional course work.

Kelly Heape Parsons '85 and her husband, Philip.
Kelly Heape Parsons ’85 and her husband, Philip.

Parsons says her first trip came with a position with PepsiCo’s international audit group, three years after she received her bachelor’s in accounting. Since that time, she has spent many years in international business, including ex patriot assignments in Canada, Australia and the UK.

“The education I received at A&M was a great foundation, but international travel — experiencing different cultures, customs, ways of life and of doing business — has provided me phenomenal personal and professional growth,” she says. “It is an education one can’t get in a classroom, and I am happy to provide the means to enable a Mays student to experience what is sure to be a life-changing experience.”

“Kelly’s generous gift will have a significant impact on our ability to provide international opportunities to our students,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “This gift reinforces our commitment to providing our honors students with important learning opportunities outside of the classroom and is consistent with the global focus of our school’s activities.”

Parsons has donated to the Association of Former Students for 25 years. She says she and her husband Philip M. Parsons — a native of Australia she met while traveling — have been involved with several charitable educational organizations. She said she was happy to expand her generosity to Mays.

“I am grateful to Mays for providing me an excellent educational foundation that has enabled me to achieve many of my life and professional goals,” she says.