New Scholarship Blooms With Help of Texas Law ‘Sunflower Lady’ Susana Alemán

Photo courtesy of Marsha Miller.

A new initiative between the Texas Exes and The UT School of Law aims to recruit a diverse class of students and make Texas Law a more welcoming place for all. Fittingly, the first to donate to the cause was a mainstay of the school who counseled thousands of students over the course of 20 years: Susana Alemán, BS ’75, MEd ’78, JD ’84, Life Member.

Alemán’s legacy endowment, the Dean Alemán Sunflower Lawhorn Scholarship, will support Mexican American law students and draws its name from her time as assistant dean of student affairs at Texas Law. From 1984-2006, Alemán helped organize the school’s annual Sunflower Ceremony, for which she would harvest hundreds of flowers each summer.

Starting with a feat of protest in 1900, senior law students at UT rejected the call to wear caps and gowns, instead choosing the sunflower as their insignia to represent the school at graduation. More than 100 years later, Alemán would thrive carrying on the tradition, earning the nickname, the “Sunflower Lady.”

“I admit I am obsessed with sunflowers now,” she told The Daily Texan in 1995. “My office is full of sunflower stuff that students bring me. I’ve read a book about them. I look for fields everywhere. I drive everyone who rides with me crazy because I have to stop if I see even a yellow flower.”

Alemán’s ties to her beloved university and its alumni organization run even deeper, as she has long been involved with the Texas Exes Austin Chapter, the Texas Exes Scholarship Committee, and the Hispanic Alumni Network.

In 2012, she visited the Texas Exes to formally endow the Alemán-Wilson Challenge Grant Scholarship, which supports Mexican American students from South Texas. The same year she commemorated the 40th anniversary of her move to Austin and the start of her freshman year at UT.

She told the Alcalde at the time she was inspired to give back in honor of her family, which provided vital support toward her UT education. “My mother always said, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ I really believe that,” Alemán said. “I’m not rich, but it can be done. Everyone can contribute in some way.”

Alemán visits the Texas Exes in 2012 to complete the endowment of the Alemán-Wilson Challenge Grant Scholarship.

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