New UTA scholarship inspired by love of Arlington

Dr. Barbara Kelly Penn establishes Alice G. Kelly Scholarship in honor of her late mother

Monday, Oct 09, 2023 • Cristal Gonzalez : contact

Photo of Dominique Colbert
Dominique Colbert is the first recipient of the Alice G. Kelly Scholarship.

A new scholarship at The University of Texas at Arlington honors and celebrates the strong connection between a long-time Arlington resident and the city she loved.

Dr. Barbara Kelly Penn has made a $100,000 gift to establish the Alice G. Kelly Scholarship in honor of her late mother, Alice Kelly. The scholarship supports broadcast majors in the Department of Communication who demonstrate financial need.

“Mom lived in Arlington as a young woman, went to UTA long before it was UTA, met her husband in Arlington and retired in Arlington,” Penn said. “Arlington was in her heart.”

During the 1940s, Kelly attended North Texas Agricultural College (now UT Arlington) with an interest in becoming a radio actress. She joined WBAP in 1957, where she excelled as a copywriter for radio advertisements and was one of only two employees skilled in operating the station’s switchboard. She enjoyed a career in broadcasting for 34 years, retiring from KXAS-TV in 1991.

Photos of Alice Kelly
Photo collage of Alice G. Kelly, courtesy of Dr. Barbara Kelly Penn.

When Penn decided to honor her mother’s memory, she knew a scholarship that combined Kelly’s love of radio and television, storytelling, the city of Arlington and her alma mater would be the perfect tribute.

“At UTA, we are committed to connecting students with the resources they need to be successful in completing their degrees,” said UT Arlington President Jennifer Cowley. “The generosity of donors like Dr. Penn highlights the passion and connection our community has to UTA. It is also a significant pillar in supporting the growth of our academic programs and student success.”

Junior broadcast student Dominique Colbert was named the first recipient of the Alice G. Kelly Scholarship. As one of multiple siblings, Colbert said she learned from experience that communication is key, and it became the core of her passion for pursuing this career.

Colbert transferred to UT Arlington amid a transition back to in-person learning after the COVID-19 pandemic. She credits falling in love with the program and having the support of professors as being great helps in her adjustment to a new university.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to your community and your professors,” Colbert said. “There are resources out there and people who love and support you.”

Colbert, like many students at the University, is enrolled full-time while pursing multiple internships and part-time jobs. The generosity of UTA alumni and friends is vital to empowering these talented and dedicated students.

“The recipients of this award will emulate the spirit of the scholarship,” said Charla Markham Shaw, chair and associate professor in the Department of Communication. “It’s a testament to the growth and achievements of the department and its students.”

- Written by Alyssa Foy, Development and Alumni Relations