UT Dallas Graduates First Class of Terry Scholars

May 18, 2010

Commencement days are usually full of goodbyes and endings. Over the weekend, one group marked an important beginning: The first class of UT Dallas Terry Scholars graduated.  

UT Dallas is among only seven universities whose students are eligible for consideration for Terry Scholarships.  This weekend’s newly minted Terry Scholar Alumni join a select group from around Texas whose educational goals are supported by the Terry Foundation

Foundation Assisting
Texans Since 1986

The Terry Foundation is the largest private scholarship organization in Texas. Houston philanthropists Howard and Nancy Terry established the program in 1986.

Terry Scholars are nominated by their universities based in part on their leadership potential and academic ability. The University of Texas at Dallas accepted its first 11 students in 2006 and has added 14 students per year every year since.

The program also supports students attending the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston and Texas State University- San Marcos.

“The primary focus [of the Terry organization] is service,” said Qishen Chang, one of UT Dallas’ inaugural Terrys, and a biology major.  “I had many opportunities to volunteer and to meet people who share the same passion as me to give back to the community.”

Since its inception in 1986, the Terry Scholarship Program has assisted more than 2,200 Texas college students.  The foundation, whose board includes four Terry Scholar Alumni,  is chartered to exist in perpetuity, and designed to provide a greater number of scholarships each year — a source of significant opportunity for potential students who fit the selection criteria.

The foundation seeks to support students whose orientation to service and community will have a significant impact on the future leadership of the state and nation.  The selection criteria for the Terry Scholarship include leadership potential and character, scholastic record and ability, and financial need. They must have graduated from a Texas high school, and they must attend one of the colleges selected by the foundation. The Terry Scholar Alumni remain actively engaged with the foundation beyond their college years.

UT Dallas became part of the program in 2006.  By next school year, the Terry Foundation will be contributing more than $1 million yearly in scholarship support for UT Dallas students, according to Undergraduate Dean Michael Coleman.

“Our Terry chapter is a special one,” Coleman said. “They have had the benefit of seeing how the program operates at UT Austin and at Texas A&M, and they have consciously chosen to create something reflective of the personality of UT Dallas while staying true to the goals of the foundation.”

Blythe Torres, director of academic excellence scholarships and the Terry Scholars Program, described the inaugural group as “exceptionally bright, ambitious and caring… leaders in the classroom and in numerous campus organizations.”

“Their hard work, fearlessness and determination established the foundation for the Terry student organization that is required at every university where the Terry Foundation supports scholars,” Torres said.

The inaugural Terrys described the responsibility of setting in motion a long-term organization that expects members to participate in a lifetime association as “intense.”

“We had a lot of work those first few weeks,” said Charles Cliff, a physics and mathematics major who will graduate this fall.  “We had to meet with University officials and representatives of the Terry Program. It was pretty stressful and intimidating to start an entire program, but we had a lot of support. We always had someone over our shoulder saying, ‘What kind of legacy do you mean to create?’ ”

The amount of a Terry scholarship is based on the cost of attendance at UT Dallas, including tuition, fees, books, on-campus room and board, and miscellaneous expenses. The scholarship value varies for each scholar, depending on other scholarship awards and the ability of the scholar’s family to contribute to the cost of college. The average award amount per scholar at UT Dallas, including financial aid and the Terry stipend, is $18,400.

“The Terry Foundation chooses students to participate in our program based on their leadership potential,” said Ed Cotham, president of the Terry Foundation.  “The first group of UT Dallas Terry Scholars has been an outstanding group of leaders on campus, and we expect them to continue to do great things after graduation. The staff has been a pleasure to work with, and we are very excited about seeing the Terry Scholar program continue to grow at UT Dallas.”

As a Terry Scholar, Ahmed Zidan has had the opportunity to take full advantage of the rigorous academics at the university.  He graduated with a bachelor’s in finance in just two and a half years and is currently working toward completing a master’s in the same field. He plans to move on to law school and focus on corporate and securities law.

“The Terry Scholarship allowed me to pursue my educational ambitions without bounds,” Zidan said.  “As such, I have been afforded the opportunity to explore a multitude of disciplines and interests to find what I am truly passionate about.”


Media Contact: Jimmie Markham, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2198, jrm014010@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Terry Scholars

The first group of Terry Scholars  prepared a gift of appreciation for the foundation: a small shoe and a much larger shoe, symbolizing the larger steps the graduates have taken since they started the program.

First row – Julianne Ayyad (left) and Qishen (Sophia) Chang

Back row (from left) – Skye Edgett, Ruth Terry, Carson Curry, Ahmed Zidan, Rebekah Joseph and Charlie Cliff


Inaugural Class of Terry Scholars

Julianne Ayyad, an accounting and information management major from Balch Springs, Texas, and a graduate of West Mesquite High School, will attend graduate school at UT Dallas.  She hopes to complete her master’s in accounting in spring 2011 and sit for the CPA exam.  In fall 2011, she expects to be working full-time at Deloitte & Touche. In the future, she would love to teach at a university, especially UT Dallas.

Qishen (Sophia) Chang, a biology major from Beijing and a graduate of Plano West High School, is a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma, a national service sorority. She also had the opportunity to conduct research for Dr. Gregg R. Dieckmann in the Chemistry Department.   She plans to attend medical school in fall 2011.  Until then, she will remain in the Dallas vicinity to acquire work experience in the medical field and spend time with her family.

Charlie Cliff, a physics and mathematics major from Dallas and a graduate of St. Mark’s School of Texas, is a member of the Collegium V Honors program, serving on its Executive Council for three years, and acting as the organization’s executive speaker his junior year. He’s been a member of the Society of Physics Students since his freshman year, and he worked on the student publication A Modest Proposal his sophomore year. He’s also had several research internships. He intends to pursue a PhD in mathematics, after which he plans to research and teach.

Carson Curry, a Fast Track Electrical Engineering major from Stinnett, Texas, and a graduate of West Texas High School, participated in school intramurals, Texas Society of Professional Engineers and Golden Key International Honor Society.  He was a volunteer tutor at local schools through programs including Communities in Schools Inc. and College to the Classroom.   This summer, he will be assisting Dr. Rashaunda Henderson of UT Dallas with research at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. He will return to UT Dallas in the fall to resume work toward a master’s in electrical engineering while working as a research assistant. Long-term he plans to work in industry, then retire to teach in college and high school.

Skye Edgett, a psychology major from Sherman, Texas, and a graduate of Sherman High School, was secretary of the Chemistry Student Association and secretary for the UT Dallas Terry Scholars during her freshman year.  She was active in Alpha Epsilon Delta during her freshman and sophomore years.  She was service chair for UTDTS during her sophomore year.  She will pursue a master’s in psychology at West Texas A&M University.  Eventually, she plans to earn a PhD in neuropsychology.

Rebekah Joseph, a neuroscience major and music minor and a graduate of North Mesquite High in Mesquite, Texas, was involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Health Occupations Students of America and the UT Dallas Jazz Band.  She plans to pursue a master’s in public health care management before attending medical school. Long term, she wants to become a neurologist, start a family and pursue her music on the side.

Ruth Terry, a finance major from Bonham, Texas, and a graduate of Trenton High School, had the opportunity to study one semester in Spain. She was also involved in intramural sports.  She has found work at a mortgage lending firm and one day hopes to open her own Spanish restaurant.

Ahmad Zidan, a graduate of Brighter Horizons Academy in Garland, Texas, has earned a bachelor’s in finance from UT Dallas and is working toward a master’s. He ran for the UT Dallas cross-country team. He plans to attend law school and focus on corporate and securities law.

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