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Spirit® is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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Feature Stories

Student Impact

Howdy, Luke Benignus ’22

Name: Luke Benignus '22
Major: Construction Science
Hometown: Giddings, Texas
Scholarship: Allan A. Marburger Endowed Opportunity Award
 

What inspired you to pursue a career in construction?

During my sophomore year of high school, my brother started a construction business because he liked being hands-on and working for himself. I helped him during the summers. He was 25 and I was 16 at the time, and we initially worked 70 to 80 hours per week to establish ourselves. I realized that I wanted to work in construction because I love the process of bringing a project to life.

 

What's your favorite part of the day?

Waking up and making my bed. I know I’ll have something nice to come home to even if it’s a bad day!

What's your worst construction pet peeve?

When I see a tile sticking up just enough so that if you tried to slide something over it, it would catch. Or really anything in a house that’s not straight. Little details like that!

What's the most important item on a BBQ plate?

Pulled pork. It’s just one of those things that is hard to master.

What's the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“There’s good in every evil.” Every bad thing that has happened in my life has always had some good come out of it.

What's your favorite Aggie tradition?

Silver Taps. When I lost my grandpa a few years ago, hundreds of people paid their respects at his funeral. So, I understand how much it means to a family when thousands of students show up to honor their child’s memory.

What surprises you most about college life?

Hands-down, it is seeing how 60,000 students can all live here independently and collaborate together. It’s not chaotic or anything! That took me by surprise coming from a small town. My graduating high school class was only 160 kids!

Have you met your scholarship donor, Mr. Allan Marburger '60?

Yes, I met him at a scholarship banquet. Honestly, Mr. Marburger could easily fit right into my hometown, which makes sense, because he’s from Paige, which is just down the road. I know his scholarships help many students in the surrounding area. He is the most welcoming person ever! His scholarship helps me focus on my studies instead of worry about where I would get the money to pay for food, gas and tuition. I can work harder in school because he removed that stress for me.

Tell us how you developed an interest in coin collecting.

My grandpa had a little shaving cream box from the 1940s that was full of coins. That got me interested in researching each one to learn its value and where it was made and minted. I don’t have it anymore, but my favorite piece was a dollar bill called a ‘short snorter’ that World War II American flight crews would sign for good luck before a flight. I looked up the signatures online and studied each pilot’s background. Sadly, I had to sell it, but it was cool to learn about its story.

What do you see yourself doing after graduation?

My long-term plan is to work for a general contracting company for several years before partnering with my brother to build residential custom homes. I want to actually draw blueprints; we’ve built three houses that I’ve drawn blueprints for so far. You don’t get to do that as much in the commercial industry because the architects do it for you, but that’s the kind of work I love.

An Endowed Opportunity Award (EOA) scholarship provides an annual stipend for four years to a deserving student. You can create an EOA with a $25,000 endowed gift, payable over five years, through a gift of cash, securities or real estate, or through a planned gift. To learn more, contact Marcy Ullman '86 below.

More Than Old Change

Luke showed off two specific pieces from his coin collection: a “Draped Bust” minted in 1806 (top) and a “Morgan dollar” minted in 1879 (bottom).

The 1806 “Draped Bust” quarter is the oldest coin in Luke’s collection. It bears the second oldest design for a U.S. quarter, minted from 1796 to 1807. The quarter depicts Lady Liberty, with emphasis on her curly locks of hair, hence its nickname.

Named after its designer, George T. Morgan, the Morgan silver dollar also depicts Lady Liberty on its obverse side and an eagle on its reverse. Morgan dollars were first minted from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921. “My grandpa had collected quite a few of these, but this one was in the best condition,” Luke said.

Luke had both coins graded and sealed by the Professional Coin Grading Service, a grading, authentication and encapsulation service for collectible coins.

Contact:

Marcy Ullmann '86

Senior Director of Scholarship Programs