A donor and a scholar in conversation
On a sunny day at Chuy’s in South Austin, two dear friends swapped stories about UT. In the short time since they met, Janelle Chavez, a freshman Forty Acres Scholar majoring in biology, has grown close to her scholarship donor Mary Scott Nabers, MBA ’89, Life Member, the CEO and president of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. Over chips and salsa, they talked about finding their way in college and beyond.
Janelle Chavez: Do you remember how you felt on the first day of school? I was so nervous. I was far away from home and I didn’t really know anyone apart from the other Forty Acres Scholars.
Mary Scott Nabers: Yes, I remember that first day so well. A lot of us were married, and we were told we had to bring our significant other to the first two hours of orientation. The head of the business program stood up and addressed our spouses and said, “I have to tell you that the next two years will be a very intense time for our students. They’ll be grumpy, they’ll be exhausted all the time, and you’re going to have to help them.” Then we all had to stand up and talk about ourselves. We still stay in touch because we literally lived together during that time. You are probably doing the same thing …
JC: We are. It’s really nice, because the other scholars are in a wide array of majors. I get to see them around campus or at meetings and dinners. I’m going to be with them for four years, so I’m sure we’ll be really close by the end. I hope I stay in touch with them, because everyone is really talented at what they do.
MSN: I think one of the most important things you can do is start a file on your computer about the friends you’ve made so far. Jot down some notes about them and keep it for the next 15-20 years.
JC: That’s a great idea!
MSN: I have found that it’s the relationships that really help your career and your quality of life. Sometimes when I’m making a tough business decision, I’ll call up one of my old classmates and say, “OK, let me give you a scenario and, just off-the-cuff, tell me what you would do.”
JC: I know that it can be pretty overwhelming when you get out of college, like where do I go from here? I’m wondering what your path was like.
MSN: The moment you walk out of that school and you are no longer a student, life comes at you very fast. So don’t do what I did and go bounding out into the world. Think about what you really like to do. What would be a perfect day? What would be a perfect job? Where do you really want to live and how can you give back to the world?
JC: That’s a great way to think about it, but it all turned out pretty well for you.
MSN: Well, you know, I got married when I was 19, I had a presidential scholarship, and I was also working to make extra money. By the time I got out, I was used to 18-hour days and constantly having several balls in the air. That’s just the way I like life. Do you have an idea what you might want to do?
JC: I’m interested in medicine, but I don’t really know what specialty I want to go into. I’m learning so much right now about development and the heart—whenever I learn something new I think, that’s what I want to help people with! But then I learn about something else. I’ve also always been drawn to public health, working in prevention and communication. That might actually be a dream job for me: not just being a physician, but being a figure in the community who spreads awareness about health issues.
MSN: You don’t have to make decisions too quickly. You have so much to give and so many directions where you could take your career. I think you’re doing all the right things.
JC: I’m volunteering with the Breast Cancer Resource Center with my roommate right now … and I just found out that my application was accepted to work in a hospice.
JC: This scholarship and the fact that someone took a chance on me has made me really want to give back after graduation. I’ve had all of these incredible experiences and I can’t wait to pay it forward. How has the Forty Acres Scholars Program changed you?
MSN: I’ve gotten more out of it than I ever expected. I was fortunate to go all the way through college on a full scholarship, so I’ve always been interested in helping students. Of all the things I do with contributions, this is what I enjoy the most—and probably because I got a lot of help. Sometimes it makes all the difference in the world.
Janelle Chavez is a recipient of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by Mary Scott Nabers.
Photo by Anna Donlan
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