‘So Much More Than a Check’: Chapter Scholarship Recipient Shares Her Story

Veronica Maes is a UT junior studying chemical engineering and a recipient of the Texas Exes Houston Chapter AIM Foundation Scholarship. Maes was asked to speak at the Association’s Chapters Scholarship Dinner on Aug. 29 to share how the scholarship has made a difference in her UT career.

I grew up in a small town near the Gulf Coast called Lake Jackson. However, during high school my family moved around for my dad’s job, and I finally found myself in Houston when I was around 16. I graduated from Lamar High School. I had always been a Longhorn fan—I went to UT swim camp for three consecutive summers in middle school, I wore Texas T-shirts, and I cheered on the ‘Horns during the Rose Bowl when I was in high school. When it came to making the college decision, there were many factors to consider. My parents were concerned about the financial aspects, as my little brother would be attending college two years after me. When I found out that I had been accepted to UT with the Texas Exes scholarship, you can imagine how excited I was. The decision was almost a no-brainer. I was given the opportunity to attend the fourth-best chemical engineering program in the nation, my dream school, with financial help.

The Texas Exes Scholarship is a reminder that a group of people who graduated from my school believe in me.

When I arrived at UT, I immersed myself in as much as I could. I joined Texas Sweethearts, a social organization dedicated to serving the Austin community and supporting UT Athletics. I also became involved with the Cockrell School of Engineering, joining the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Freshman Engineering Council, and later mentoring freshmen through the Student Engineering Council.

One of the greatest things UT offered me this year was the opportunity to get a summer internship. I went to UT Engineering’s Career EXPO and met many employers and recruiters from Fortune 500 companies. The past two summers I have interned for BASF, the largest chemical company in the world. Seeing other Longhorns in the workplace and knowing the reputation UT has with companies has given me even more school pride than before. After graduation, I plan on working a full-time job in the chemical or oil industry in Houston. I also plan on connecting with the Houston Chapter and becoming a Texas Exes Life Member. To freshmen, I advise you to get involved as fast as you can. Joining organizations will help you meet your peers and have fun. But when it really comes down to it, we are all here to learn and to receive our college degrees.

To put it bluntly, school is hard. The University of Texas makes you work for your degree. I have never been so challenged than I have been the past two years at this school, especially this past semester. To me, the Texas Exes scholarship is so much more than a check in the bank. The Texas Exes scholarship is a reminder that a group of people who graduated from my school believe in me. A group of Texas alumni are literally investing their money in me and my future because they know I will achieve great things.

So to the students, when you are up at the PCL studying at 2 a.m. and you want to quit, remember the people that are investing in you and your future. When you get a test grade back that you aren’t very proud of, remember the people who believe in you and know you can do better. When you are walking through campus and pass the Tower, think of the people who were in your place not long ago, who wanted to share The University of Texas experience with you. So to the students, I hope you each have a good semester and keep in mind that there are a brilliant group of former Longhorns who believe in you.

Thanks so much for having me here, and hook ’em horns.

 Above: Maes at last week’s scholarship dinner.

Photo courtesy Matt Valentine.

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