Alumni Spotlight- Jose Whitten

Jose Whitten (UNT 2013) credits his Terry Transfer Scholarship with the gift of time.

As a transfer student, Jose faced challenges in his transition to a four-year university. A close mentor once observed that, although Jose was an able competitor, he “started the race five miles back” in many respects. This never deterred Jose. The Terry Transfer Scholarship allowed him to focus his energy where it was needed most. Time spent working could be spent on his studies and on serving his community instead.

Jose has been able to study for his MCAT in the pursuit of medical school and volunteer with children in the foster care system through the UNT organization, Persevere UNTil Success Happens (PUSH). PUSH supports UNT students who were previously in the foster care or child welfare system as well as foster children who reside in the Denton area. As a mentor for these kids, who are often at-risk youth, Jose asks “where” they are going to college instead of “if.”

He explains, “this is an important distinction, given that most children in foster care do not pursue higher education. I usually get a positive reaction. What gives me credibility is I relate. I’ve been there.”

After eight tough years in the foster care system as a child, Jose finally found his family. His adoptive mother molded him into the man he is today. “She is the pivotal force behind most of my ways, most of my thoughts,” he says. “I emulate her- I try to at least.”

A Close Call
Jose may not have gotten to this point- not because of a lack of ability- but instead a United States Postal Service cutoff time. It was the day that the Terry Foundation Transfer Scholarship application was due, and it slipped his mind. That evening, he realized what day it was and that his application was still in his backpack. He found a post office that was open late in downtown Dallas and drove from Irving. He made it with just a few minutes to spare, and thankfully, his application was postmarked on time. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Terry Foundation is glad he made it in time and proud to have Jose as an alumnus of the program. We wish him luck in his future endeavors!

To learn more about PUSH, click here to read a Dallas Observer feature on the organization.