Also In This Issue

New Gifts: Recent Gifts to Texas A&M

Safari Scholars

In 2012, Jennifer Bell ’73, an advisory board member for the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, journeyed to Africa for the first time with the Traveling Aggies program. The trip’s lasting impression and her experiences as a board member inspired her to create two $25,000 endowed scholarships through a bequest in her estate to give veterinary students similar opportunities to experience the continent.

One of the scholarships will benefit Aggies pursuing a biomedical sciences degree, while the second will support biomedical sciences or veterinary students who participate in the college’s African Wildlife Medicine Study Abroad program.

During the two-week program, 16 students have the opportunity to work with wildlife species such as rhinoceros, elephants, plains game, crocodiles, big cats and venomous snakes. South African wildlife experts provide lectures on best practices for animal capture and translocation, animal rehabilitation, conservation genetics research and darting animals from helicopters. Additionally, approximately 60 hours of hands-on clinical work gives students a full experience of wildlife veterinary practices.

Since her first trip, Bell has traveled around Africa six times and become a wildlife photographer. “Africa is like my home away from home,” she said. “Working with the people, seeing their culture and photographing the animals there is an amazing experience I want all students to have. Hopefully, this study abroad program creates new career opportunities for participants.” 

Empowering Aggie Women

In support of Aggie women, Meg ’01 and Josh Hare committed a $50,000 endowed gift to the Texas A&M University Women’s Resource Center. Their gift was made in memory of Meg’s late mother, Elaine Lawler Ayers, who championed many of the same values the center promotes—community, inclusion and equal access.

“As I’ve grown in my career, I’ve found it exceptionally important and personally rewarding to foster the growth and development of younger women in my organization,” Meg said. “I work in technology and while succeeding as a woman in this field can be challenging, I strongly believe in the power of lifting up other women.”

Since its founding in 2001, the Women’s Resource Center has provided many programs that are crucial to the development of Aggie women, including salary negotiation workshops, International Women’s Day and the Elect Her conference, which teaches leadership skills and campaign techniques for women interested in seeking future political office.

“Programs like these provide critical skills for young women to advance and thrive in the professional workforce,” Meg added. “We need more women with a seat at the table, and I look forward to seeing more Aggie women in corporate leadership roles and elected office positions in the future!”  

Fueling Future Engineers

Fueled by a passion for sports cars and racing and a desire to give back to the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lisa ’81 and Matt Lawrence ’81 recently established their first gift: $60,000 to support Texas A&M’s Formula SAE Team.

The department’s Formula SAE program allows senior engineering students to apply classroom instruction to develop, build and test formula-style race cars. Each year, the team competes with its prototype race car against more than 500 university teams worldwide. Texas A&M’s team has won seven competitions since its inaugural year in 1999, and Matt believes the team’s success is a testament to the abilities of Aggie engineering students.

“As a retired mechanical engineer and manager at ExxonMobil, I wanted to support a program in the College of Engineering that inspires students to use their minds and hands to engineer, create and defend a finished design using imagination, technology, teamwork and communication skills,” Matt said.

The couple’s gift will support the construction of new formula race cars used in competitions. The Formula SAE team is self-funded, so donations help pay for competition-related expenses such as equipment, materials and registration fees.

A Gift Repaid

Inspired by the financial support she received in nursing school, Agnes Hrncir established a scholarship for students in the College of Science enrolled in aggieTEACH, a program that certifies undergraduates to teach math and science courses at the middle and high school levels. Her gift pays tribute to her late husband, Richard, who taught math for remedial students in Rosenberg, Texas.

“Because my parents couldn’t afford it, my uncle paid for my schooling to become a nurse,” Hrncir said. “When I tried to pay him back after graduation, he refused and told me others would need that help in the future. Now, I can finally repay his gift to me.”

Working as a campus nurse for Texas A&M University from 1947 to 1950, Hrncir grew to love the traditions and spirit of Aggieland. After marrying Richard, her admiration for the university influenced her entire family, as their daughters, Louise Hrncir ’77 and Catherine Reiley ’78, and granddaughter, Jennifer Reiley ’16, later attended Texas A&M.

“With this gift, I want students to know they are not alone in their financial struggles,” Hrncir said. “Just as my uncle helped me through nursing school, there are others who care and want to support them in the pursuit of their goals.”

  • Out at Sea

    A gift from Col. Hal Schade ’67 given in honor of his parents, Sue and Col. Tom Matthews, funded a four-day research excursion last summer that allowed 12 oceanography students to gain hands-on experience at sea. The students set sail in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the R/V Point Sur, where they worked 12-hour shifts, took water samples and conducted research that will help inform future oil spill responses.
  • Supporting Legal Education

    Avi and Debra Naider created a $250,000 scholarship endowment for students at the Texas A&M School of Law in honor of Bobby Ahdieh—Avi’s friend and dean of the law school. Inspired by Dean Ahdieh’s willingness to help others when he and Avi were classmates at Princeton University, the gift recognizes the dean’s dedication to service. The Naiders’ scholarship will support law students engaged in the school's clinics.
  • Keepers of the Spirit

    Officially known as the Mascot Company, Company E-2 in the Corps of Cadets has the special privilege and responsibility of caring for Reveille, Texas A&M’s beloved mascot. In the early 1960s, Al Wheeler ’63 served as the company’s commanding officer. Recently, he and his wife, Judi, created a $500,000 planned gift to fund a Keepers of the Spirit scholarship endowment for future cadets in E-2. These scholarships annually fund four awards for cadets in each class year as they pursue their degrees and work toward becoming outstanding servant leaders.

Dunae Reader '15

Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications/Spirit Editor/Maroon Co-Editor