Forty Acres Scholars Promote Diversity Through TexasTogether

carolinemeyersonBecause UT is a campus full of people from different walks of life, Forty Acres scholars Mary Elizabeth Guerra and Caroline Meyerson, together with their friends Graham Bailey and Kornel Rady, noticed a disconnect between groups on campus and wanted to find a way to unite students to celebrate their diversity.

From those ideas came TexasTogether, a new student organization founded by the four friends with the hopes of promoting respect, empathy, and patience on campus.

“TexasTogether is a registered student organization open to UT students with the hope of reaching out and being a group that would center around inclusion and diversity,” says Guerra, a sophomore studying neuroscience and Plan II Honors.

Meyerson, a Business and Plan II Honors sophomore, explained that the ultimate goal is for students to move away from the characteristics that divide the student body and instead use it to bring people together.

In its first official semester, on Nov. 4-7 the group held TogetherWeek, a week dedicated to featuring and discussing diversity on campus. The events included a diverse showcase of student performers, from the Alpha Kappa Psi step team to the Ransom Notes, a discussion panel, and a speaker series.

The speaker series that capped off the week included Admiral Bobby R. Inman, BA ’ 50, Life Member; Law School Associate Dean John Beckworth, BA ’80, JD ’83, Life Member; and Austin City Council Member Randi Shade, BA ’88, Life Member. The speakers drew the biggest crowd of the week, Guerra says. emmyguerra

“The speaker series was probably the most thought-provoking of the events,” Guerra says. “It was interesting to hear their different takes on the topic.”

Both she and Meyerson admit it’s not every day that as a student, you can meet a Navy admiral, a dean, and a city council member, and they credit the connections they made through the Forty Acres Scholars Program in bringing each of them to campus.

“There’s no way we would have made those personal connections with them or been able to reach out to them like we did without Forty Acres,” Meyerson says.

Beyond that, Meyerson says the Forty Acres Scholar Program has been influential in motivating the two to create and lead the group because of the program’s requirements that strive to make them better students and community members.

“Forty Acres constantly inspires me to make a positive difference by becoming more involved on campus and in the community,” Meyerson says. “Through TexasTogether, we hope to make a small difference, whether it’s with one person, one organization, or hopefully, one university.”

Going forward, Meyerson and Guerra say they plan for TogetherWeek to become an annual event and will also look to host other events, possibly even a concert in the spring, as the organization grows. They also hope to eventually expand to high schools in the community and other universities in Texas.

“We want to consistently hold events in order to unite the campus and encourage students to treat everyone with respect,” Meyerson says.

From top: Caroline Meyerson; Mary Elizabeth Guerra.

Mary Elizabeth Guerra is a recipient of the Stan L. McLelland Forty Acres Scholarship, and Caroline Meyerson is a recipient of the Susie and John L. Adams Forty Acres Scholarship.

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