Members of UNT's first Terry Scholars class gather in the lounge area on their floor in Kerr Hall for a study session.
International studies major Irvin Loza's long term goal is to work in the United Nations or elsewhere in the international political scene to promote communication and peace.
Jake Schumann, a biology major, plans to become a physician's assistant and join a practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Psychology major Theresa Hunter wants to serve her community as a high school counselor and one day move into the field of behavior analysis.
Loza, Schumann and Hunter are among 16 students who became the first class of University of North Texas Terry Scholars this fall, supported by the Terry Foundation, a Houston-based scholarship program. The program helps high-achieving students with the potential to be community leaders attend one of eight public colleges and universities within the state, including UNT.
"A year ago these students were applying to colleges and universities but wondering how they would fund their college educations," says Holly VanHouten, mentor and coordinator for the Terry Scholars of North Texas. "They have high aspirations and the Terry Scholarship is helping them achieve their dreams. The scholarship funds give them time to focus on their studies and participate in student organizations rather than work multiple jobs to support themselves."
The Terry effect
During their first semester at UNT, the Terry Scholars say the program has helped them beyond their expectations.
"I could never have imagined how much stress this program relieved," says Loza. "I don't worry about paying tuition or housing, and I can focus entirely on school whenever I need to. It has been an incredible experience so far."
Schumann says he applied for as many scholarships as he could and the Terry Scholarship was the determining factor in his decision to attend UNT.
"It has provided me with great resources for mentors and connections to people who have been there and done that," he says.
Hunter says she is pleased with all the different ways she's learned she can help "do her part" on campus and with the social connections the program provides.
"I've made so many friends," she says.
The Terry program helps the students connect with like-minded people both on campus and across the state. The Terry Scholars live together on one floor of Kerr Hall on campus and regularly connect with Terry Scholar alumni who have already been through the program at sister institutions.
"The Terry Scholars have the advantage of being a member of a group well before they arrive at UNT," VanHouten says. "The Terry Foundation treats the scholars as members of a family."
Hunter says this ability to make connections with other people has been the highlight of the program for her so far.
"I wanted to network, to learn from alumni and definitely make some new friends," she says. "What I got is much better than I ever expected."
Loza says the interaction with alumni and other ambitious students has been the most valuable thing for him.
"The Terry Scholarship program also offers guidance through the availability of past Terry Foundation alumni of all majors and backgrounds who are willing to help those of us who seek them out," he says. "I'm in a community of individuals much like myself who are as driven as me."
Dedicated to making the world a better place
Schumann serves as the vice-president of the Terry Scholars of North Texas, an organization started by the scholars to reach out to campus and provide as much community service as possible.
"These students are true leaders and are dedicated to the Class of 2014 cause: Humanity," VanHouten says. "The Terry Scholars service projects are directed towards helping others."
The group participates in UNT's Adopt a Block program and works to keep the block that includes Fouts Field trash-free. This fall the Terry Scholars organized a campus event called Service on the Spot, where charitable organizations set up information booths and collection sites to educate UNT community members and take donations.
"People had the chance to serve the community right then and there, on the spot," Hunter says. "We had many various opportunities to do this -- random acts of kindness, donating books, clothes, food, and shoes, and writing letters to the soldiers were just a few ways."
The Terry Scholars of North Texas are planning more events for the spring semester.
UNT is a great fit
Not only has the Terry Scholarship program helped them beyond their expectations, Loza, Hunter and Schumann all say that the first semester of their UNT experience has been very positive.
"I really enjoy UNT's international community and international study opportunities," Loza says. "The professors have helped me grow in the one semester I have been here. All of my professors are top-notch and very enthusiastic about what they teach. My classes are really interesting and I've learned a lot in all of them.
"And when I need help in any subject, there are resources here on campus that are very useful, like the writing lab."
Hunter says not only does she find her classes challenging, but being able to talk with her professors one-on-one has made a big difference in her learning experience.
"I enjoy being challenged, and my classes definitely do this in all different ways," she says. "Most of them are interactive in some way which is a good way to get everyone in the class involved. I try to have some sort of connection with all my professors by meeting with them during their office hours or by talking to them after class. If I can talk to them on a one-to-one basis then I can understand them better when they're lecturing."
Apply and complete all the requirements for the Terry Scholarship by Jan. 14.