In 2002, Travis Owens ’06 was offered a President’s Endowed Scholarship, creating a domino effect that would alter the course of his life and the lives of Texas A&M students yet to come.
Hailing from Grapevine, Texas, Owens toured several campuses before deciding where to attend school. “Receiving a President’s Endowed Scholarship was a big motivation for me to attend Texas A&M, as it gave me something to live up to,” he said. “At the annual scholarship reception, I met the family of Raymond M. Priesmeyer `26, who my scholarship was funded in honor of—making it all the more personal.”
Today, Owens and his wife Shan Wang are giving back through a President’s Endowed Scholarship of their own that will support aspiring Aggie engineers.
FINDING A HOME
Like many Aggies, Owens sought out involvement on campus. He was admitted into the Honors Program and hired by the Texas A&M Aerosol Technology Lab. In addition, he participated in the University Undergraduate Research Fellows Program and completed a six-month co-op at National Instruments in Austin. On his free weekends, Owens traveled to The University of Texas, where his high school sweetheart and future wife, Wang, studied computer science.
“Texas A&M felt like home to me,” Owens said. “The student body is a tight-knit community with a sense of dedication, fellowship, pride and honor that you don’t find anywhere else. Not only did his President’s Endowed Scholarship convince him to attend Texas A&M, but it also afforded him numerous fellowship and graduate school opportunities."
Owens graduated from Texas A&M in 2006 and enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his master’s and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. After finishing school, he began working for Pivotal Systems, a startup company in Silicon Valley, before taking on a role at Apple. “The fast-paced work of a startup company prepared me for the environment at Apple,” said Owens. “Today, I am a product design engineer for Apple, where I manage a small team of engineers.”
Wang also found herself in California upon finishing school in Texas and was hired by Google to work in search quality evaluation. “It was a dream of mine to work at Google,” she said. Wang is now the chief engineering architect for the Google Store, where consumers go to purchase Google products online. “My team works to bring design to life so millions of users around the world can visit the Google Store at once and all have the same fast and enjoyable experience,” she said.
Contrary to their competitive natures, Owens and Wang say they enjoy working for rival companies. “Our rivalries keep us grounded,” said Owens. “We have been rivals through our whole relationship, starting with Texas A&M vs. UT.”
MAKING THE MONEY GO FURTHER
While the couple donates to several charitable causes, they note the special importance that supporting education can have on an individual’s future and their community. “We were both blessed to receive financial support for our education,” said Owens, “and now we have the opportunity to contribute back.
“Education not only benefits the individual recipient of a scholarship but also has positive long-term ripple effects,” added Owens. “Our goal is to create lasting investments with our donations because state budgets for public institutions can be erratic, and we feel it is our responsibility as individuals to support access to education.”
As employees of Google and Apple, the couple accessed corporate matching funds to create their President’s Endowed Scholarship. “One of the best corporate giving platforms is donation matching,” said Owens. “Google and Apple both have a strong company culture of giving back, and they make the process incredibly easy for employees.”
Both companies provide a 1 to 1 matching ratio, meaning that an employee’s charitable gift will be doubled by the business upon donation. “It gives us a sense of making our money go further,” said Wang. “Suddenly, a small donation can turn into a big contribution.”
For Owens and Wang, funding a President’s Endowed Scholarship epitomized the domino effect that one person’s education can have on a community of people. A President’s Endowed Scholarship not only provides a scholarship in full for a current student but also provides for the long-term growth of the principal. “Since it is an endowed scholarship, it will continue to support students in the future,” explained Wang.
A President’s Endowed Scholarship can be established through a $100,000 gift by an individual or a group. Recipients of these scholarships are chosen for their academic achievements and leadership abilities, but donors may establish a preference—such as major—for the students who will receive their scholarship. For Owens, that preference is a student who is pursuing a degree from the College of Engineering, just as he did.
“We chose to create a President’s Endowed Scholarship because it was the same scholarship that supported me during my undergraduate career,” said Owens. “We hope this scholarship will encourage the best students to attend Texas A&M and that it will support them in their educational journey.”
To learn more about creating a President’s Endowed Scholarship, contact Marcy below.