Evelyn Neely (MSSW ’67) remembers that when she was in school, tuition at UT Austin cost $25 a semester.
“That was the cheapest part!” she says. “The most expensive part was room and board. Back then, there were only two houses for African-American students. I lived there during the week, and on weekends I went back to Houston, where my family was taking care of my two children.”
To pay for room and board, Neely relied on personal savings and a School of Social Work stipend that was earmarked for black students.
“Since that time I’ve always believed that you should help others when you have received help. My contributions to the school, though small, represent my commitment to that belief.”
Kathy Rider (MSSW ’69) came to the Forty Acres in the early 1960s as a pre-med student.
“Back then they only gave one recommendation per year to a woman to go to medical school. It would have been three more years before it was my turn and I didn’t have the time to spare!” she remembers.
A stint as dorm counselor during her junior year had stirred Rider’s interest in mental health. She traded medicine for social work and has never looked back. She has practiced psychotherapy for many years, taught college students, and been active in the Texas Society for Clinical Social Work – a mover and shaker behind legal regulation for the profession in Texas. She is married to a native Austinite, and they have three grown children and four grandchildren.
“I donate to the school every year because I believe in giving back, and because I want new social workers to join the profession,” Rider says.
“As a kid, whether volunteering at church or giving time at school functions, it was always ingrained in me that it was important to give back. A responsibility. In my job, I hear prospective graduate students talk about the daunting amount of debt they have accrued and yet still are willing to take on more knowing that a graduate degree will give them more opportunities. I feel pretty fortunate that people invested in me, and while I don’t give thousands of dollars, every little bit goes a long way to ensuring the success of someone else. One of the things I enjoy participating in is the Honor a Social Worker campaign. You get to tell someone “You’re doing a great job as a social worker” and at the same time you are still helping students. A win-win.” Ramón Gómez (MSSW ‘01), Director of Student and Community Affairs, School of Social Work, UT Austin
“First, it is a way of giving back to a school that provided me the opportunity to attain a degree in a profession that I love and has since empowered me to continue in my pursuit of helping our nation’s growing aging population, many of whom are veterans. Second, as a minority student, I appreciate the active role UT has taken to be inclusive of those who are often the first generation in their family to attend college. For this, the LONGHORNS will forever have my support. “To whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48).” Kia Watts (MSSW ‘10), Case Manager, Housing Urban Development Veteran Administration Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH)
“The easy answer is that I love the UT Austin School of Social Work and I feel that it has given me so much over the last 40 years. I remember how important scholarships were to me as a student, and want to help current social work students get the best experiences they can. It is gratifying to know that even small donations can make a difference for our students and for our school.” Mary K. Mulvaney (MSSW ‘80), Clinical Professor, School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin