The Texas Exes is pleased to announce the Forty Acres Scholars Program Class of 2019. More than 3,000 students applied this year for the University of Texas at Austin’s premiere full-ride, merit-based scholarship, and 19 outstanding scholars were selected from a group of 59 finalists. The scholars include entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, engineers, athletes, and volunteers. Among their number is an EMT in training, a nationally competitive figure skater, and a published author. Many more are student government leaders, varsity athletes, and newspaper and yearbook editors. This year’s class also includes a scholar who plans to study nursing—a first for the program.
Over the next four years, the Class of 2019 will take advantage of unique academic, leadership, and cultural opportunities within a close-knit cohort of fellow scholars. In addition to full funding for tuition, a living stipend, and a book stipend, the program includes enrichment experiences such as study abroad, community service, and alumni connections and support. Previous Forty Acres Scholars have studied food security in Germany, led a community service project in Guatemala, and interned at Accenture, Deloitte, and Bain & Company.
Administered by the Texas Exes, the Forty Acres Scholars Program is now in its fifth year and the inaugural class of scholars will graduate this month.
Below, meet the Class of 2019:
Jefferson Auster from Austin, Texas is the recipient of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Forty Acres Scholarship. At L.C. Anderson High School, Auster was the captain of the varsity cross country and track team, the president and founding member of an anti-bullying organization called the No Place for Hate Coalition, a founding member of the Trojan Writing Project, and a class representative of the school’s campus advisory council all four years. He has also consistently placed at state in the Texas State German Competition. At UT, Auster plans to study biomedical engineering and pursue a career in medicine. He is the son of Mary Ann and David Auster.
Erin Backus from Fort Worth, Texas is the recipient of the Jeanne L. and Michael L. Klein Forty Acres Scholarship. At Trimble Technical High School, she has been named a National Achievement Scholar, a Superintendent’s Scholar, and president of the school’s National Honor Society. She lettered in volleyball, basketball, track, and band before her 16th birthday and made the First All-District Team in basketball two years in a row. Outside of school, Backus is an EMT in training, and the captain of her church’s champion Bible Bowl team. Last summer, she played tuba in a band that raised funds to help prevent the abuse of children with special needs. At UT, she will major in kinesiology. She is the daughter of Adriane and Dwight Backus.
Giancarlo Bernini from Mission, Texas is a recipient of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. He will graduate from the Science Academy of South Texas this spring. Bernini is a professional magician and vice president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 269. He is the author of Second Chance, a book of poetry that he sold to raise money for a local cancer clinic, and an avid collector of Harry Potter movie prop replicas. At UT, he will major in radio-television-film. He is the son of Cynthia and Juan Carlos Bernini.
Henry Boehm from Waco, Texas is the recipient of the Susie and John L. Adams Forty Acres Scholarship. At Vanguard College Preparatory School, Boehm was editor of the Vanguard Review school newspaper, the head lawyer for the Mock Trial Team, senior class president, and a member of the National Honor Society’s Governing Council. Outside of school, he was an Eagle Scout with Troop 308 and a counselor at Camp Longhorn. At UT, he will double major in business honors and Plan II honors. He is the son of Beth and Trey Boehm.
Janelle Chavez from Port Isabel, Texas is a recipient of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. At Port Isabel High School, Chavez was student body president, captain of the varsity cheerleading team, and president of the National Honor Society. She founded the school’s Future Health Careers Club and was the UIL Academic State Champion in spelling and vocabulary. She is a 2015 Coca-Cola Scholar, a National Hispanic Scholar, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and a recipient of the AP International Diploma. Outside of school, she has been a member of her church choir since kindergarten and has shadowed several physicians, including an anesthesiologist, a gastroenterologist, and a cardiothoracic surgeon. At UT, she will study biochemistry and public health and plans to pursue a career in medicine. She is the daughter of Mary and Victor Chavez.
Isabelle Donatelli from Upper Montclair, New Jersey is the recipient of the Annabel and Robert Moore Forty Acres Scholarship. At Kent Place School, she was the captain of the varsity tennis team, editor-in-chief of the world languages publication, and a seven-year member of the inaugural Mandarin Chinese class. She is a talented flautist who serves as head of the advanced flute ensemble and an accomplished figure skater who competes nationally. At UT, Donatelli will double major in architecture and Chinese. She is the daughter of Erin and Tom Donatelli.
Justin Dunlap from Austin, Texas is a recipient of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. He is an accomplished trombonist who was principal trombone of the Westlake High School wind ensemble and full orchestra, lead trombone of the Westlake Jazz Band, and section leader in the Westlake Marching Band. A two-year All State musician, Dunlap has played in the symphony and philharmonic orchestras and in a local Austin band called Big Wy’s Brass Band. In addition to his music, he founded an intramural soccer club, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and traveled to 16 countries. At UT, he will major in music performance. He is the son of Emily and Wayne Dunlap.
Michael Everett from Southlake, Texas is the recipient of the Ray and Denise Nixon Forty Acres Scholarship. At Carroll Senior High School, he was the founder and president of the Finance Club, an organization focused on networking with professionals from various financial fields. He was also co-captain of the State Champion varsity swim team and the water polo team. Everett was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in 2012 after completing a project to benefit a local elementary school. At UT, he will double major in business honors and government. He is the son of Susan and Tim Everett and is a triplet with two brothers.
Alejandra Flores from Laredo, Texas is the recipient of the BHP Forty Acres Scholarship. At United South High School, Flores was the president of her magnet school, the Academy of Global Business and Advanced Technology. She was also vice president of UIL Academics, where she was a three-time state competitor for accounting and a two-time regional team champion. She was a member of Business Professionals of America and placed in the top 10 in advanced accounting nationally. She is currently an intern at the City of Laredo County Auditor’s Office and volunteers in her community by preparing income tax returns. A first-generation college student, Flores will major in business honors at UT. She is the daughter of Veronica and Arturo Tafolla.
Jacqueline Gibson from Cedar Hill, Texas is a recipient of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. At the Ursuline Academy, she was president of the Ursuline Ambassadors, president of Sewing for Others, lead pianist in the Ursuline-Jesuit Orchestra, and the founder of T.E.E.N (Teens Engaged in Excellence Now) Day of Service. Outside of school, she is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient, an avid foodie and cook, and the founder of Girls Go Green, an environmental sustainability workshop for middle school students. She is especially interested in the fields of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity and will study computer science at UT. She is the daughter of LaTambra and James Gibson.
Chandler Groves from Southlake, Texas is the recipient of the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Forty Acres Scholarship. At Carroll Senior High School, he was president of the Carroll Medical Academy, which raised money for the UNT Health Science Center Pediatric Mobile Clinic, and a Green Jacket ambassador for the Carroll Independent School District. He is a founder of Athletes Serving Others, a mother-son service organization, and a Jeff Isler Golf Certified junior instructor who teaches children at a local golf academy. At UT, he will double major in business honors and Plan II honors. He is the son of Kelly and Ron Groves.
Amanda Jústiz from Austin, Texas is the recipient of the Elizabeth Shatto Massey Forty Acres Scholarship. A classically trained coloratura soprano, Jústiz sings for approximately three hours each day and has performed in musicals and the select choir at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. She is equally passionate about the field of marine biology and has taught students in the Austin area for the past few years as a community service. At UT, she will double major in Plan II honors and biochemistry. She is the daughter of Leslie and Manuel Jústiz.
Seth Krasne from El Paso, Texas is the recipient of the Barbara and Alan Dreeben Forty Acres Scholarship. At Coronado High School, Krasne was president of WE(fillintheblank), a student group dedicated to engaging youth in politics. He was also editor-in-chief of the school’s yearbook and president of the National Honors Society. During his senior year, he was a member of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. At UT, Krasne will triple major in business honors, government, and Plan II honors. He is very proud to be the first Forty Acres Scholarship recipient from El Paso. Krasne is the son of Robin and Richard Krasne.
Omar Mata from Houston, Texas is the recipient of the AIM Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. At KIPP Houston High School, he was a member and treasurer of the KIPP Krew, the school’s co-ed, national championship-winning dance team. Mata has also been active in the Houston Scholar Program, a college readiness program, since the eighth grade. Outside of school, he sings and plays the trumpet, guitar, and piano. He will join his older sister at UT, where he will major in architectural engineering. He is the son of Hortensia Cruz and Benito Mata.
Kelsey Mumford from Lago Vista, Texas is the recipient of the David Begala Forty Acres Scholarship. At Lago Vista High School, Mumford was Varsity Cheer captain and Varsity Tennis captain. In 2014, she was the UIL AA Girls Doubles Tennis State Champion and the Science Team State Champion. She was president of the National Honors Society, the Spanish Honor Society, and the Speech and Debate Society. Mumford is a National Merit Commended Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. At UT, she will study nursing. She is the daughter of Debbie and Bob Mumford.
Alex Rabinovich from McAllen, Texas is the recipient of the Charline and Red McCombs Family Forty Acres Scholarship. At McAllen Memorial High School, he was editor-in-chief of the yearbook, captain of the varsity tennis team, and a mentor to first-grade and special-needs students through the Peer Assistance Leaders program (PAL). Outside of school, he was a Sunday School teacher at his synagogue and an enthusiastic traveler. At UT, he will double major in business honors and Plan II honors, and hopes to participate in community service during his study abroad program. He is the son of Michelle and Michael Rabinovich.
Francesca Reece from Euless, Texas is the recipient of the Lowell Lebermann Scholarship. At Trinity High School, she was president of the speech and debate team and ran an English tutoring service for both ESL students and members of the custodial staff. She was also part of the YMCA’s Youth and Government leadership group. At UT, she will major in both government and Plan II honors. One day, she hopes to be the president of the United States. She is the daughter of Tammie and Gregory Reece.
Celia Shaheen from Plano, Texas is a recipient of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Plano West Senior High School, Shaheen was a teen docent at the Dallas Museum of Art and worked at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s Teen/Artist project. She was one of just 170 YoungArts finalists selected from more than 11,000 applicants, and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts semifinalist. She is proficient in American Sign Language and plays both classical and jazz trombone. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art, the University of Texas at Dallas, El Centro College, Gallery 414, and the YoungArts Gallery in Miami, Florida. At UT, she will double major in art history and studio art. She is the daughter of Robyn and Matt Shaheen.
Audrey Urbis from Brownsville, Texas is the recipient of the Madison Charitable Foundation Forty Acres Scholarship. While attending Los Fresnos High School, Urbis founded a mentorship program called Ojo A Ojo: Envisioning Your Future, and was the founder and president of the RGVLead campus chapter. She has portaged and paddled over 100 miles through the waters of the Northern Minnesota and Canadian boundary and has worked as a page in the U.S. Senate, where she met a strong Longhorn contingent at the Capitol. At UT, she will double major in business honors and Plan II honors. She is the daughter of Laura and Michael Urbis.