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UTA Gourley Foundation scholarship winners recognized at annual luncheon

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 • Media Contact: Hillary Green

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UTA's Mary I. Gourley Foundation scholarship recipients are pictured with President Vistasp Karbhari.

The University of Texas at Arlington recognized 17 student scholarship recipients Tuesday, Nov. 29 at the annual Mary I. Gourley Scholarship Luncheon.

The Mary I Gourley Foundation, based in Fort Worth, helps single parents across North Texas afford college, something many are unable to do while serving as caregivers and breadwinners.

The foundation awards scholarships at six Dallas-Fort Worth universities, including Tarrant County College, Texas Christian University and Texas Woman’s University.

UTA President Vistasp Karbhari thanked the Gourley Foundation for recognizing the excellence and commitment of the UTA scholarship recipients.

“Our students are some of the best and brightest you will find, and they are willing to work hard to earn that valuable college degree," Karbhari said. To the recipients, he asked: "What will you now do with the education you’ve been given? Will you discover a cure for cancer? Win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism? Or an Academy Award?” The students were invited to speak from the heart.

Mickaela Alves, the single mother of a toddler, thanked the scholarship committee, saying that a “weight was lifted” when she received the financial assistance. Alves hopes to become a lawyer, working to “regift the opportunities” she’s been given by the Gourley Foundation.

James Stratton originally enrolled at UTA in 1985, but left to pursue a career in the Air Force for more than 20 years. Stratton said the military taught him to live by example, so he re-enrolled at UTA to set a living example for his two children, including a 22-year-old daughter who also now attends UTA.

“The Mary I. Gourley Foundation generously supports UTA students who work to support their families,” said Karen Krause, UTA executive director of Financial Aid, Scholarships and Veteran’s Affairs. “With the help of this scholarship, some of our most deserving Mavericks are provided with an opportunity to overcome individual obstacles.”

Gourley Foundation President Robert C. Albritton, Jr., who knew Mrs. Mary Gourley, remembered the woman who has made a difference in so many lives.

“She wanted to leave a legacy to help provide to future deserving students what she herself did not have in life – a chance to achieve a college education," Albritton said. "She would be so proud to see the results of her generosity today.” 

Since 1996, UTA students have received more than $1.2 million in scholarships from the Mary I. Gourley Foundation. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, and receive monthly financial support and encouragement from the Foundation.

UTA’s 2016-17 scholarship recipients include:

  • Mickaela Alves, Communication Studies
  • Yadira Avarado, Criminal Justice
  • Rachel Burkhart, Accounting
  • Debra Dunn, English
  • Amanda Floyd, Architecture
  • Heather Fowler, Social Work
  • Tiana Gilbert, Social Worth
  • Brent Hickenbotham, Civil Engineering
  • Asha Jennings, Management
  • Kimetrian Jones, Social Work
  • Jason Ranck, Economics
  • James Stratton, Real Estate
  • Leah Stroud, Nursing
  • Erica Tillman, Nursing
  • Meghan Wheeler, Education
  • Acacia Young, Biology

About the Mary I. Gourley Foundation

Established with an anonymous gift in 1988, the Gourley Foundation was named for an uneducated single mother who was a close relative of the founding donor. The organization typically assists 80-100 nontraditional students per year.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 “highest research activity” institution of about 55,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at