Alumni Spotlight – Maddie Heaven and Bryn Wyckoff
Giving Back to Australian Wildlife
The promise to “give back” is interwoven into the lives of each and every Terry Scholar. So, when TAMUG Terry alumnae Maddie Heaven (2015) and Bryn Wyckoff (2014), first heard about the massive devastation caused by wildfires in Australia, they knew they had to help—but how?
Maddie reflected back on what has motivated her to help the wildlife affected:
“Although I’m in the non-profit world now, I started my career in a tiny NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] lab, processing samples and feeling life out in the marine biology world. I had the same dream every MARBy does—to save the Great Barrier Reef from the slow death that humans are inflicting on it. Around the same time, I got into quilting as a stress reliever, and joined a group that does exchanges all over the world. That’s where I met my Australian friend, Sara. Although I’ve never been there, she helped me to fully appreciate what a unique and breathtaking place her home is. And now, it’s on fire … Australia needs our help. It’s literally a matter of life and death”.
Bryn explained her call to help as well, highlighting her life-long inspiration from the late Australian wildlife expert, Steve Irwin:“I feel an obligation as an Environmental Scientist, as a Terry Scholar, and as a supporter of the Irwin family to help my childhood hero’s home. The whole world is home to us as well as a diverse array of wildlife, even if we only live on a portion of it. I believe [that] helping a whole country in need would be an exceptional way to give back to our environment, and an amazing way to honor Mr. Terry’s memory and all that he has done for us”.
“Australia needs our help. It’s literally a matter of life and death”.
-Maddie Heaven (TAMUG 2015)
“It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of all this destruction,” Maddie stated.
“Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes. It feels like it never ends, but when I happened to stumble upon a post about hand-made bat wraps, I knew immediately that this was a way I could make a tangible difference. A billion animals dead, millions more in danger, and here was finally something that I, and my (mostly broke) friends, could do to help.”
As of today, Maddie and Bryn have made almost three dozen items, including bat wraps, joey pouches and wallaby bags — a collective 50+ hours of work. They have also dedicated at least another 65-hours to researching patterns, buying materials, contacting rescues and setting up a fundraising site. In hearing about their efforts through Terry Connect, fellow Terry Scholars, Catherine Tucker (TAMU 2004), Eileen Zinsmeister (TXST 2019), Juliette Strope (TAMU 2018) and Jayme Krepps (TAMU 2020) have stepped-up to offer their help as well. Their combined efforts contributed to an outpouring of support to Australian wildlife rescues — so much so, that the rescues are currently fully stocked on wraps, pouches, bags and blankets. However, a great need still exists.
Maddie shared their progress thus far, stating that:
“We have partnered with the Australian Animal Rescue (AAR), which is a nonprofit volunteer [organization] dedicated to rescuing animals harmed by the bush fires and providing medicine, food, and care to those affected. We have set up a page… here we will list our handmade items for sale to raise money for the AAR. Our goal is approximately $500 USD, which is $740 AUD. If this campaign is successful, Bryn and I may expand our efforts to include other rescues for maximum impact.”
Maddie shared a message for her fellow Terry alumni and students:
“Mr. Terry’s foundational principle was Selfless Service. It’s a quality that shows in every Terry’s life in a myriad of different ways. I know many of us don’t have the physical resources to donate monetarily, but most of us have the time, and every one of us has the heart.”
If you would like to learn more about their efforts to give back to Australian wildlife, please reach out to Maddie or Bryn via Terry Connect.
Alumni Spotlight- Clemente Garcia III
Clemente Garcia III (UT 2014) recently received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to the Netherlands from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. We spoke with him to find out more about his research and his hopes for more Terry Fulbright awardees.
From the press release:
“Clemente will conduct research in multilingual education and assist in English instruction at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) as part of a project to better understand the successful implementation of language equity and multilingualism in Dutch public schools. With these findings, Clemente will return to Texas where he will continue to champion for better bilingual education practices while pursuing Graduate’s studies in linguistics… Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.” (Source: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office ) Read the full press release>>>
Clemente, what are you up to right now?
Do you have advice for anyone who is considering research in general?
What are your goals and how will this award and your research help you achieve them?
Can you tell us what you’re hoping to tie into the work you’ll do once you return to the U.S.?
How did you find out about the Fulbright Award?
I learned about the Fulbright Award through pure fate. While studying abroad in Turkey a few years ago (a huge thank you to the Foundation for funding that semester) I became close friends with another exchange student from New York. Last summer, I sent a message to see what she was up to, and that’s when she first told me about Fulbright. Knowing my interests, she encouraged me to apply for the following year. I’m still pretty amazed by how I came across the Fulbright Award. I heard about it from her with just enough time to begin putting my application together.
What would you like other students to know about Fulbright?
I really just want other students to know that it is available. My Fulbright Advisors explained that so many awardees come from upper-middle-class families and have been on a “conveyor belt” to college their entire lives. I only learned about Fulbright through a friend that fits the typical description of a recipient. Ultimately, I hope that more people like myself and other Terry Scholars are able to hear about opportunities like Fulbright and break through the barriers of exposure.
For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright
Alumni Spotlight- Andrew Valdez
Andrew Valdez (UT 2013) is a Terry Transfer Scholar and graduated from UT Austin with a B.F.A. in Theatre Education. He is a director, playwright, actor, teaching artist, and producer. He currently serves as the New Play Associate at the Cleveland Public Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio. He recently shared some of his projects with us and also hosted a #TerryTakeover on our Instagram account.
“A lot of my job is working alongside Cleveland artists and developing their work… [giving] them the resources they need to realize their vision on stage,” he says. (Check out Andrew’s website for more information!)
Andrew recently served as the Assistant Director on a National New Play Network Rolling Premiere called “Br’er Cotton” by Terelle Alvin Chisholm. The show ran from March 29, 2018 to April 21, 2018. “This is one of my FAVORITE plays,” he told us. “The synopsis is a young black youth, who is tired of the systemic institutions that have continually oppressed African Americans. He takes his future, and the future of black youth, in his own hands and tries to rise up against his oppression- removing his family and his ancestry from the cotton field.”
“Those of us who don’t know people in a specific category… we put people into convenient little boxes and don’t look beyond. I hope that this play, in a way, maybe very subtly, encourages people not to do that.” -Jennifer L. Nelson, Director of Br’er Cotton (source: cptonline.org)
Learn more about “Br’er Cotton” at cptonline.org>>>
Andrew was also a production assistant on Cleveland Public Theater’s “Station Hope” event, which took place on May 5th. About his involvement, Andrew says, “Station Hope is a jubilant event that celebrates Cleveland’s social justice history and explores contemporary struggles for freedom and equity. We engage with over 250 artists as they envision, interrogate, and seek out hope on the grounds of Cleveland’s first authenticated Underground Railroad site, St. John’s Episcopal Church.” Andrew took over the Foundation’s Instagram to showcase the weekend’s activities and to provide an insider view of the festival and its art and performances. “It’s been an amazing journey helping curate a new play development festival that honors the diversity of our nation.” Learn more about Station Hope at cptonline.org>>>
Here are some of the images Andrew captured during his #TerryTakeover:
In early 2018, Andrew served as an actor and collaborator for the World Premiere of “American Dreams,” a play by Leila Buck.
Show Synopsis: “You are invited into the live studio audience of American Dreams, where you will decide which of three contestants will receive the ultimate prize: citizenship in ‘the greatest nation on earth.’ Weaving playful audience engagement with up-to-the-moment questions about immigration and more, this participatory performance explores how we navigate between fear, security, and freedom; who and what we choose to believe—and how those choices come to shape who we are.” (source: cptonline.org)
Andrew reflects on his experience:
“Together with Leila Buck (playwright), Tamilla Woodward (director) and Alex Corona (collaborator), we developed my character, Alejandro Rodriguez, who was a former medic in the National Guard and was deported to Mexico because he was not a citizen. His character takes inspiration from the livelihood that Alex and I share growing up near border towns. This character highlights a larger conversation this nation is having with the Dreamers and DACA; and what it means to have been or continue to be an American Citizen.”
“This show has meant a lot to me. Everyday we are confronted with our own biases and the biases of the nation; how we create meaningful dialogue from those conversations is an ever present presence that looms in our rehearsal room. It is one of the most rewarding works that I have participated in and is true testament of theater as social change. I really recommend checking out this news coverage of playwright Leila Buck and our Artist Director Raymond Bobgan, who go into depth about the conversations and questions this show raises.” Learn more about “American Dreams” at cptonlne.org>>>
Alumni Spotlight- Maddy Kulkarni
Maddy Kulkarni (UT-Austin 2001) is on the Terry Scholar Alumni Advisory Board and is the Senior Marketing Manager for PepsiCo Frito Lay, where she has worked for seven years. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at UT-Dallas. When she’s not developing future marketers or marketing your favorite soda or snack food (Crunchy Cheetos are her personal favorite), she is active in her community and ensures that local nonprofit organizations can make their largest impact. Maddy’s involvement in community service began long before her move to Dallas. During her time at UT, Scholars did not have to live together in the residence halls. In fact, it wasn’t even a possibility. This made it difficult for them to come together outside of banquets and picnics. Service events were a natural way for them to join together, and they were always looking for ways to give back.
Eventually, Maddy was also able to give back by sitting on the other side of the Terry interview table. Since her graduation from UT, Maddy has interviewed seven times, for Traditional and Transfer Scholars, and she has chaired a panel once. As a Panel Chair, she took the lead during the entire process, guiding the panelists as they selected new Scholars to be welcomed into the Terry family. She notes, “This position is one that is humbling, but it is also a significant commitment.” With that said, volunteering comes naturally to Maddy, as it does to many Terry Scholars.
Amplifying Local Impacts
Marketing takes many years to master, and Maddy has chosen to use her cultivated skills to benefit her community. She has worked with the nonprofit Social Venture Partners by serving on a team of professionals to benefit organizations on a pro-bono basis. One of their clients was Children at Risk, an organization that works to improve quality of life for children through advocacy. She felt so passionate for their cause that she eventually joined their board. After much involvement in other nonprofit organizations, including the Terry Foundation, Maddy decided to start her own.
Dallas Heroes Project “celebrates local heroes, educates citizens on critical issues facing the city, and enables citizens to take social action to make a positive impact in the city of Dallas.” The organization accomplishes this mission by assisting local nonprofit organizations with their marketing strategies. Each month, Maddy chooses a “hero” and a different issue to feature. Often, these organizations have the social and policy work down to a science, but their marketing techniques may suffer as a result. By providing her professional expertise, Maddy is able to help them enhance their footprint in the communities they serve. Previous collaborative projects include adult literacy, the foster care system, and empowerment for young women interested in politics.
To learn more about Dallas Heroes Project, click here.
Alumni Spotlight- Matt Priest
Matt Priest (TXST 2004) was a member of the inaugural class of Terry Scholars at Texas State University in 2004. He currently works as a Senior Associate for the Sterling Group and previously worked as an Investment Banking Associate for Goldman Sachs. Matt explains why he pushed himself to his limits on Wall Street before examining his priorities and adjusting his path. He discusses his time as a Terry Scholar, his life post-graduation, and his advice for Scholars as they pursue their chosen fields.
The Terry Years
Early on, when we started the Texas State group, I’m pretty sure Mr. and Mrs. Terry came out for most events. I got to see them a lot; I got to hear him talk about his upbringing and what led him to start the Foundation and the opportunities he was given to go to UT. I come from a similar kind of background, where the scholarship created opportunity. Hearing those stories told– secondhand too as they got up in age–it’s fantastic the amount of access the Terrys allowed people to have to them and to discuss things. They’d sit down at the picnic and were one of the crew. They wanted to know what was happening in the lives of the students and the universities. I think they took a lot of pride and joy in seeing us do what we did on a university level.
Click the tabs to learn about Matt’s life post-graduation.
Graduating in a Recession
Working on Wall Street
MY Advice to Terry Scholars
If investment banking is something that interests you, figure out why it interests you. I did it for- probably- some of the wrong reasons. It was a “prove to myself that I could do it” type of thing. I wanted to see how far I could go. While I was interested in what we were doing, I was never fulfilled by it. To this day, I still think about “what might have been” if I had chosen a different path. If you’re a current student still debating if you want to be an engineer or an investment banker or a doctor or a hedge fund guy, you have to really think about why you want to do those things. If you’re doing it for the nice job, the nice paycheck, the nice car, and recognition from society, you have got to decide what it is about that occupation that gives you fulfillment. If you want to save lives, then do it. Why do you want to do deals if you’re an investment banker guy? Is it the thrill of doing the transaction and negotiating? I can tell you that you will very rarely be there; it’s not as cool as it looks in the movies. There are things I love about it, and there are things I could never do again and be perfectly okay. People have to find what they view as valuable and fulfilling in their lives. Find a career that gets you that. If you’re more fulfilled by leaving work at 6 o’clock, being a good parent, and being involved with your family, then you have got to find a job that lets you do that- not all of them will. Think more long term than short term, and really understand what you’re striving for.
Alumni Spotlight- Camilla Smith
Shark Week may only happen once a year on the Discovery Channel, but for Camilla Smith (UNT 2011), it happened approximately 52 times. After studying abroad at the School for Field Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Camilla later joined their team as an intern for an entire year working directly with the students leading them on recreational scuba dives. She also worked as a research assistant studying sharks. Although there are no sharks in Denton, UNT did equip her with the skills and knowledge she would need to embark on such an educational adventure.
Not wanting to be pigeonholed into a specific career, Camilla chose UNT because of its diversity in majors. Fashion and marine biology were her two vastly different interests, and luckily, UNT offered degrees and course in both such as scuba diving. Because of this, it felt like fate that she would apply there and then the Terry Scholarship which would impact her life forever.
While Camilla was a Terry Scholar, she served as a service chair and was heavily involved in the organization’s activities. She says, ” It was important to me to keep the commitment I made during my interview. It was the only reason I was able to go to school, so I think I can commit that couple of hours a month to give back to something that has given me so much.” With so much excitement that surrounds the freshman year banquet, one of her fondest memories is that she was able to meet Mr. Terry before his passing. “It was pretty amazing to see someone who has devoted his life to making sure others got a similar opportunity to go to college,” she reflects.
Appreciative of Mr. Terry’s dedicated presence during the later years, Camilla adds, “we all saw and felt that, and it was pretty special.” In addition to meeting Mr. Terry, Camilla’s favorite aspect of being a Terry Scholar was meeting her best friends, including her freshman year roommate who turned into her sophomore, junior, and senior year roommate as well!
Now that she’s back on the mainland, Camilla will continue her efforts in marine conservation. Next fall, she plans to enroll in graduate school where she can continue her undergraduate research in developmental physiology.
Alumni Spotlight- Jake Pringle
Jake Pringle (UT-Austin 1993) is a Consulting Pension Actuary for Milliman in Houston and recently celebrated his 20 year anniversary with the company. If Milliman sounds familiar, that’s because the Foundation holds both traditional and transfer interviews at the Milliman building in Dallas! As a well-establish alumnus, Jake has extensively given back to his Terry family and his community. In 2015, Jake joined the Terry Foundation’s Advisory Board and began his first of 2 terms as the president of the Houston Chapter of the Terry Scholar Alumni Association.
Some may wonder what exact role the Advisory Board plays in the Foundation. In short, members help Foundation staff and Scholars in various capacities, including responding to Self Evaluation Letters (SEL). There were over 1,700 Scholars enrolled this past year, meaning that A LOT of SELs needed to be read. The Foundation is dedicated to answering every letter, so the project has been expanded to include the Terry Scholar Alumni Advisory Board. This past summer, Advisory Board members who were on the Self Evaluation Letter Committee responded to 14-20 letters each. A handful of you may have even received a response from Jake! When asked about this opportunity to further engage with Scholars, Jake said, “It takes you back to your college days. You sympathize with current Scholars as they’re studying for exams and learning how to balance their time. It’s nice to be able to offer advice based on my experience looking back 20 years.”
Each year it is amazing to see the caliber of each class of Terry Scholars at each of the thirteen universities. This year was no different. Although all majors are challenging in their own way, Jake relates to those Scholars studying mathematics- given he graduated with his B.A. in Mathematics from UT-Austin in 1997. Math may seem overwhelming or incredibly challenging to some, but Jake often sees math as a riddle. He grew up watching his grandfather run his own business with a middle school education, and he noticed how at ease he was with the operational side of things. This inspired Jake as he sought out a career that involved day-to-day mathematical equations. This process was made a lot easier because Jake’s mother was his high school counselor. Once he began looking into schools and jobs, his mother mentioned Actuarial Science, a field that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance, finance and other industries. Research and teaching weren’t for Jake, but he could see himself becoming an actuary- at his dream school no less.
On the day of his interview, Jake was star struck by one of the panelists sitting across from him at the table- Coach Darrell K. Royal. Jake grew up watching UT football, so Coach Royal was a legend in his family. From the Foundation’s inception through 2002, Coach Royal served as one of the original directors of the Foundation and knew the Terrys very well. Although Coach Royal’s tenure at the University of Texas came long after Mr. Terry’s playing time, that bond over football and student success always existed between the two men. In addition to Coach Royal, Mr. and Mrs. Terry also sat at the table for Jake’s interview. That may have been the first time Jake met the Terrys, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Jake recalls sitting around the table listening to Mr. Terry’s stories at both the banquet and picnic during his fours years at UT.
“It wasn’t a huge thing back then,” he says. “It was easy to talk to the Terrys.”
Finally, when Jake graduated, he seized the opportunity to switch roles and become extensively involved in the interview process of new Terry Scholars. During that time in the Foundation’s history, Mr. Terry still participated in interviews, so Jake even got to sit beside him on a few occasions- both proud to afford more Texans an opportunity to go to college.
Alumni Spotlight- Brittney Campbell
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can manifest itself in many different ways, depending on the person. Some people with ASD are verbal; some are nonverbal. Some have seizures; some don’t. Some are savants, some are not. Each one of them shares a common diagnosis, but they are all different much like anyone else you might meet. Brittney Campbell (UTD 2012) shares her brother Kendall’s story and what life is like in medical school.
All siblings are special, but Brittney feels a particularly strong bond with Kendall, even though he cannot fully communicate with her. This bond was nurtured through years of accompanying her parents on the journey of autism- doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment. Neurologists, Gastroenterologists, and Psychiatrists are all involved in Kendall’s care plan. Because her deep love of science and this exposure to the medical field from an early age, Brittney thought she wanted to become a doctor- for Kendall and for herself. After all, it was everything she wanted in a career. After shadowing her brother’s Psychiatrist, she knew she wanted to become a doctor.
This shadowing experience confirmed everything for Brittney. At first, the office was hesitant to bring her on board due to confidentiality, especially in a psychiatric practice. She persisted, and her persistence served her well. More often than not, undergraduates face numerous barriers to seeing and experiencing patient care first-hand. Brittney says she did have to “cold call” potential sites, and once they responded, she would provide her university transcripts. The successful attempt eventually did come from that real-life connection to her brother’s psychiatrist, so as she says, sometimes “it’s who you know.” Thanks to an active Terry Alumni network, current scholars can access the TAP List in any field to seek leads and guidance, whether it’s in the medical field or on the stage- Brittney’s two passions in life.
Psychiatry was exciting. Brittney listened to patient stories, and each of them were the lead in their own tale- similar to Brittney’s other passion, theater. During her undergrad, she took several improvisation courses to balance out the heavy science classes. Unfortunately, the demanding schedule of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) has prevented her from stepping onto the stage recently. However, to her, “The sacrifices are worth it.” Whether through theater or another hobby, it is important to find an outlet to relieve stress. As Brittney says, “Those tests are no joke!” To reflect and to cope with the stress, she recommends that all medical students write about their experiences, especially the good ones. “It’s important to remind yourself that you deserve to be here,” she says.
It isn’t all studying and stress, though. Brittney’s favorite aspect of medical school is learning how to interview patients. Much like a detective, doctors must know which questions to ask to figure out any underlying issues or extenuating circumstances that could affect a patient’s physical or mental health. This skill is that much more important for Brittney, who is on the road to becoming a psychiatrist and is now in her second year of medical school. Class is in session; good luck to all of our current medical students!
To learn more about autism and how you can help, visit the website of the advocacy organization, Autism Speaks.
Alumni Spotlight- Will Hurd
Representative Will Hurd (TAMU 1995) was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Upon graduating from John Marshall High School, he entered Texas A&M as a Terry Scholar in 1995 and studied Computer Science. He currently represents the 23rd District of Texas and serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House Committee on Homeland Security, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Reflection of a Terry Alumnus
From College to Congress
Leading by Example
Words of Wisdom
Alumni Spotlight- Krystafer Redden
We spent an afternoon with Krystafer Redden (UH 2008) while he visited Texas from New England. Krystafer recently earned his Master’s in Public Policy from Brown University and currently works as a Transformation Specialist for the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). Before a tour of our “Terry Museum” at the Foundation’s Houston office, Krystafer told us about his time as a Terry Scholar on campus and beyond.
Meeting Mr. Terry
Degrees of Success
You're Never Board in College
Teacher and Student
Policy in Providence