College Announces Transfer Scholars Initiative
Friday, May 3, 2019
Texans have always fought for those who needed a little help. Famously, the Alamo was a transition point in the Texas Revolution that ultimately led to the fledgling republic’s victory over Mexico.
In this same vein, donors to UTA’s College of Engineering stand at the transition point to breaking down barriers that prevent more U.S. students from entering science and engineering fields. By providing funding that allows students from community colleges, especially those who are from underrepresented groups, into one of the state’s top engineering schools, Texans are making a difference.
Funds from the several endowed scholarship accounts totalling more than $850,000 will be used to support the newly established UTA College of Engineering Transfer Scholars Initiative.
Erick C. Jones, an endowed professor in the Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering Department and the College’s associate dean for graduate affairs, is in his 40s, has a Ph.D. in Engineering, and is an African-American. He grew up in Houston, where choices for black men to attend college for a brighter future were not always considered the safe choice.
The person in the picture next to Jones is Bill Carroll, a professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department and former Dean of Engineering. He is a native Texan and has been a UTA faculty member for 38 years. Carroll believes that underrepresented groups and women should be encouraged to pursue a career in engineering.
Carroll began his studies at Tarleton State College, then a junior college, before transferring to UT Austin. His late wife, Marsha, attended two other universities before landing at UTA to pursue a degree in architecture. Their paths were different, but both were influenced by their experiences and understood the need for more scholarships for transfer students.
Because of that understanding, the Carrolls established the Bill and Marsha Carroll Endowed Scholarship in 2011 with a preference that it be awarded to students transferring to UTA from a community college in Texas because of their shared experiences.
“This is a pathway for a lot of students now. A significant number of our students come to UTA with transfer credits. Marsha and I were both transfer students and we wanted to support students who are on this pathway,” Carroll said.
“We didn’t go to our first schools for financial reasons, but today a lot of students do have financial problems or choose to go to a small school and get off to a good start before finishing at a larger university. We wanted to do something that would benefit transfer students regardless of the reason for their situation.”
Jones, whose mother taught high school English, mathematics and, later, special education, eventually became a vocational counselor.
She became a special education teacher to support his intellectually disadvantaged brother, and he reflects often upon her words about fighting for those who could not fight for themselves. Her transition from teacher to vocational counselor solidified her belief that the key to success for many minority students is vocational education and then attending a community college.
“Students from these underrepresented groups are similar to the Texans who fought at the Alamo. They have to gather their courage, their resources, and their grit to win the fight against socio-economic roadblocks and false perceptions. As educators, we sometimes have to be the fort that buys them the time they need. We have to be the Alamo,” Jones said.
Jones and his team will select recipients for each of the College's six undergraduate departments to receive $2,500 scholarships for up to three years, a value of $7,500, which will help transfer students attend UTA to complete engineering degrees.
“This initiative is about someone believing in these students and the students knowing that there’s support behind them. Our students come from many different situations, and pursuing a college education can be daunting. If they know that someone has their back, even in a small way, it takes away some of the roadblocks and gives them a push to succeed," Jones explained.
To support the Transfer Scholars Initiative, please contact Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.