It is extraordinarily fitting that the 2019 Mays Scholarship Banquet was held in the Hall of Champions at Kyle Field. Everyone who attended the banquet is a champion in their own right. Whether the champion was a student blazing new trails for their friends and family or a champion for students to attend Mays Business School by giving their time, talent, and treasure, all 1,000+ people at the banquet were stalwart members of the Mays Family.
Dean Eli Jones ’82, the emcee for the night, noted how the banquet was hosted in a month ripe with gratitude. “November is a month synonymous with gratitude. While Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, tonight, we give thanks. We give thanks for the generous supporters of Mays who make a difference in the lives of students. We give thanks to the dedicated students of Mays, who will be our future leaders. Finally, we give thanks for the ability to gather this Mays family for an evening of thanksgiving.”
Keynote speaker David Shimek spoke about his gratitude to be there after his humble beginnings in a very small town. Shimek is now the Senior Vice President for Hardware Operations at Reynolds and Reynolds Company. He spoke about the Reynolds and Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute and how selling is a critical piece of their career. Shimek mentioned not just selling products, but themselves as well. To sell themselves, he gave them two responsibilities. The first, to be a good steward of their scholarship by striving for success and being involved in their school and community. The second responsibility was to give. To be a donor and give monetarily when the time is right, to give physically through mentoring programs, and to give corporately by championing for their future companies to give to Mays.
The night was full of exchanged handshakes and stories. Donors were able to spend time with their scholarship recipients, and students were given a chance to update some of their biggest champions on their activities and ambitions. Three students, in particular, shared stories with the banquet about their scholarships. However, rather than listing their numerous accolades, Hannah Grubbs ’20, Nicholas Menchaca ’20, and Gabrielle Orion ’20, shared stories of how the scholarships are about more than the money. The students told how scholarships grant students the ability to persevere through hardships and give them access to experiences and opportunities that would otherwise be impossible.
Grubbs shared how her family fell apart in her first semester of college, and her mom and brother moved across the state. Because of her scholarship, the money she earned from her part-time job could help her family move without the fear of not being able to pay for school. Also, because of the scholarships she received, she could move through school with urgency, not haste, as she uncovered her passions.
Menchaca told the audience how he was raised by a single father who worked hard. Despite his father’s best efforts, Menchaca grew up acquainted with financial insecurity and with a slim chance to attend a higher education institution. Menchaca said, “Financial insecurity is a towering barrier that consumes your every thought. Growing up, I didn’t have time to chase passions because I needed to help pay bills. These scholarships give students like me the ability to knock down those barriers and an opportunity to put education first.”
Orion spoke of the donor impact she’s felt. Her family was affected by Hurricane Harvey. For six months, her childhood home in Houston was unlivable, and she worried about her family and their mounting bills, but never once did she have to worry about pausing her education, because of the generous donors at Mays.
Grubbs wrapped up their time on stage imploring everyone to have the seemingly hard conversations about just how much scholarships mean to those receiving them. “For most of us in this room, the money you so graciously give back to our school allows us financial freedom from hardship both now and in the future. Your generosity gives us the freedom to find passion and pursue excellence. In that pursuit, we aim to someday sit in your chair as scholarship donors.”