Who We Are
The Dean’s Scholars honors program, founded in 1983, is the oldest honors program in UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. Our program focuses on supporting undergraduate research. Dean’s Scholars have gone on to become renowned professors and scientists as well as world-class surgeons teachers, and engineers.
In the past 10 years alone, our program has produced 42 National Science Foundation Fellows, 9 Goldwater Scholars, and 3 Astronaut Scholars. DSers have also won Marshall Scholarships, Gates Foundation Scholarships, and National Science Foundation Fellowships. The greatest benefit of our program is the community of students and the structure of mentorship. Dean's Scholars take classes together, attend special dinners, and inspire each other. Many become lifelong friends.
What We’re Fundraising For
We are raising funds for three primary goals: to strengthen the DS community during the pandemic, better engage with our alumni, and to provide scholarships to deserving students. Our Dean’s Scholars often find that their undergraduate experience has been defined by their friends and experiences in the program as much as by their lessons in the classroom.
“Our students hit the ground running...they are well prepared (academically and socially), they know how to cooperate and collaborate with others, they are natural leaders, and they are happy and excited to be working on science. That is the goal of our program, and we have been meeting it for nearly four decades.” —Dr. David M. Hillis, Director of Dean’s Scholars
1. STRENGTHENING THE DEAN’S SCHOLARS COMMUNITY
Duaa Ansari, Class of 2024: “This semester has been full of many hardships. However, the Dean’s Scholars community has made me feel very connected...and I’m very excited to see what is next!”
Central to the Dean’s Scholars experience is the robust community and friendships. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, DSers have been unable to connect with one another as normal, with many students spending the semester away from Austin. As a result, for first-years in particular, their immediate Dean’s Scholars family has become a built-in cornerstone that we must preserve. Your donation will strengthen the Dean’s Scholars community we know and love, helping existing students feel at home in this isolating time.
For last fall’s freshman dinner, we shipped a celebratory mini-piñata as an alternative to our usual in-person piñata game, leading to high turnout and great memories. However, our budget limits our ability to continue with this. With your donation, we hope to tailor-make care packages, including DS swag and merchandise, for each event to promote greater engagement and help students make memories with their DS family. Your gift will also support our relaunch of in-person events once safe, strengthening the camaraderie between Dean’s Scholars as we face the hardships of this pandemic.
2. ENGAGING OUR ALUMNI COMMUNITY
Elizabeth Robinson, Class of 2020: “The alumni mentorship program has been a massive help. My alum mentor...made this entire semester go so much more smoothly.” Your gift will strengthen our newest student-led initiative: alumni outreach and inclusion. Our proud alumni often share their desire to remain involved with our program.
Last year, we launched new initiatives to engage our alumni, including a robust mentorship program, a yearly “Day in Dean’s Scholars” event, and Friday Lunch alumni panels. We recently formed our inaugural official Alumni Association, which will help share alumni perspectives with current DSers and allow alumni to engage with the campus community. With your support, we’ll expand existing initiatives and create new ones, including organizing regular alumni reunions—to which you’ll be invited—and surprising alumni with special-edition DS swag. Your gift will help ensure that alumni remain engaged as a core part of the Dean’s Scholars family.
3. SCHOLARSHIPS FOR DESERVING STUDENTS
Meghan Mallya, Class of 2021: “I am forever grateful for the support this scholarship has provided for the pursuit of my future goals.” The pandemic, as well as rising tuition and living expenses, have left many Dean’s Scholars feeling financially burdened. We believe a student’s dreams and curiosity should never be hindered by their circumstances—and your generous donation will help alleviate students’ financial hardships.
Firstly, your gift will help subsidize the costs of academic memberships and professional school application fees for DSers from first-generation or economically-disadvantaged backgrounds. Additionally, funds will help recognize outstanding Dean’s Scholars through the annual Alan Kaylor Cline Scholarships, celebrating the legacy of our program’s longest-serving director. As a direct result of your support, DSers won’t have to worry so much about finances; instead, they can focus their time and energy on coursework, research, and pursuing their dreams.