By Eric Wilson

I had a conversation recently with a colleague about recognizing scholarship donors at our school and it caused me to reflect on my own experience – first as a scholarship recipient 25 years ago and then as someone who funds scholarships.

As scholarship donors, my husband and I could choose to bequeath gifts to help future students or we could give now so that we have an opportunity to meet the people we’re helping. The conversation with my coworker along with my shared desire to meet our scholarship recipients made me think that I should reach out to those who helped me along my own academic journey.

I graduated from Judson High School in San Antonio in 1995 and one of the scholarships I received to attend Texas A&M University was from the San Antonio Area Foundation. As an 18-year-old who was required to write a thank you note for the award, I probably sent a perfunctory letter sometime in the summer after graduation and then went on about the serious business of enjoying the summer break between high school and college. Admittedly, I wasn’t all too familiar with the Area Foundation but I was happy to have additional financial support for my academic pursuits.

Much has transpired since that summer and I feel it’s important to send an updated note of thanks to the Foundation to express my sincere gratitude for the impact that their gift had on my life and career. The Foundation’s scholarship helped me achieve my initial goal of earning my bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1998. I also earned a master’s degree in 1999 and a doctoral degree in 2004, both in human resource development and also from Texas A&M. The award I received from the Foundation helped me graduate from college without the need for loans.

After graduation, I pursued a career in higher education and I have enjoyed working for the Texas A&M University and Texas State University systems. The highlight of my career was having the opportunity to work in Qatar at Texas A&M University’s branch campus for eight and a half years. I was able to support the educational aspirations of Aggie engineers from over 20 different countries and travel extensively in my free time.

The experience of living, working and traveling abroad deepened my understanding for the need to embrace diversity and to include perspectives from underrepresented groups. My time abroad afforded me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, preparing me for my current role as Assistant Dean for Accountability and Strategic Initiatives at Texas A&M’s School of Public Health, where I’m proud to support the training of our public health workforce.

My professional success began with the Foundation’s early investment in me, and my husband and I have been able to fund several scholarships for students at Texas A&M, providing financial assistance to the next generation of professionals.

None of this would have been possible had it not been in part for the San Antonio Area Foundation. Thank you again for the work you do to support future generations of students and thank you again for helping me pursue my dreams.

For more information about the Area Foundation’s scholarship program, please visit our scholarships page.