UT Dallas - The LINK
February 2012

Interdisciplinary Studies led to Dynamic Career and New Scholarship


The Petrick’s scholarship benefits students in the
School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

From classes on nuclear physics to water law, Neila Skinner Petrick MA'76 embraced the School of Interdisciplinary Studies curriculum at UT Dallas. Petrick went on to parlay that eclectic mix into a successful career as an award-winning author, video writer and producer.

Now Neila and her husband, Tom, have created an endowed scholarship to encourage students in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, which provides students with the opportunity to design their own degree plans and pursue innovative combinations of coursework.

"We established the scholarship so that future generations will understand how our lives, our work, our histories are woven together, which gives meaning to every aspect of their education," explained Neila. "No discipline does that as well as interdisciplinary studies. Educators understand the value of this approach now more than ever."

Neila's books, Jane Long of Texas and Jane Wilkinson Long: Texas Pioneer, explore the life of one of the first Anglo settlers to the Lone Star State. Another of her books chronicles the life of Katherine Stinson Otero, one of the first American women licensed to fly airplanes. Neila and Tom, a retired Army officer, often worked together to research subjects for these projects. 

"My education in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies gave me a solid basis for writing, particularly biography and biographical fiction, which I love," said Neila, who has authored more than a dozen plays and is currently working on a novel about growing up in Texas.

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