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September 19, 2017

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September 19, 2017

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EMBA Class of 2015 Seeks Donations for Memorial Scholarship to Honor Ben Mesa

Sept. 10, 2015

Classmates Tom Allred BS12 EMBA15 (from left), Kilynn Sommer EMBA15, Ben Mesa EMBA15 and Jeff Steele EMBA15 celebrated graduating last spring. Members of the class are now raising funds for a memorial scholarship to honor their friend Ben.

From left: Classmates Tom Allred BS’12 EMBA’15, Kilynn Sommer EMBA’15, Ben Mesa EMBA’15 and Jeff Steele EMBA’15 celebrated graduating last spring. Members of the class are now raising funds for a memorial scholarship to honor their friend Ben.

Former classmates of Ruben “Ben” Mesa EMBA’15 are raising funds for a scholarship to honor the young father who died in a boating accident on Grapevine Lake just two weeks after spring graduation.

Memories of the 44-year-old father will live on through a fundraising effort led by Ben’s Executive MBA 2015 class. To date, $11,395 has been raised toward the $25,000 needed to establish an endowed scholarship. The EMBA 2015 alumni are using the University’s crowdfunding platform, Impact UTD, for the fundraiser that ends Dec. 31.

Ben’s sons, Zachary, 17, and Aidan, 14, were the first to donate.

“Zachary and Aidan are thrilled to have something so great be part of their dad’s legacy,” said Ben’s fiancée, JoAnne Blanchette. “Initially, the family wanted to establish something that the boys could be part of to honor their father. When UT Dallas stepped up to do this, we were so emotional because Ben believed in education. Both the boys wanted to help pay it forward to others that saw the same value by contributing to the scholarship.”

Support Ben’s Legacy

The University of Texas at Dallas Executive MBA Class of 2015 seeks to establish a scholarship in honor of their friend and classmate Ben Mesa. Donate here.

Ben adored his sons, making it to all of their football, baseball and lacrosse games. His love of sports also lit up his relationship with JoAnne, who said the couple disagreed about only one thing — baseball. He loved the New York Yankees; she is a Boston Red Sox fan.

Ben was raised in Silver City, New Mexico. After his family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, he earned his accounting degree from the University of Utah. Ben worked for J.C. Penney in Salt Lake City and was subsequently transferred to the corporate headquarters in Plano. Most recently, he served as director of accounts payable at Heartland Automotive Services and had just earned his EMBA from UT Dallas in May.

“Tragedies like this have a way of bringing groups together, and it has helped strengthen the bonds within the EMBA class of 2015,” said Jeff Steele EMBA’15. “Ben was a big part of the personality of our class and one of the people that really made our class weekends an unforgettable experience. We felt that the best way to preserve his legacy was to establish an endowment that would continue to assist students who are furthering their education at UTD.” 

Strong bonds are forged in the EMBA program, which is cohort-based and puts students together for 21 months of classes that meet four days a month from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Class trips provide more opportunities for classmates to bond.

For the first-year trip, students in the EMBA class of 2015 examined business in Panama City, Panama. The second-year’s trip is a 10-day international study tour that highlights business environments abroad.

“When we announced the international study tour to Athens and Istanbul, our students were very excited,” said Pamela Foster Brady EMBA’11, executive director of the EMBA program.

A couple of months after the announcement, concerns arose about terrorist activities in the region. Brady recalls talking to the cohort and how Ben’s response united many of the students. 

“We addressed the cohort after class one day explaining that we needed to keep perspective and to look at what was going on in our own country. Ben pointed to me and said, ‘Pamela – have you and (Connie Imhof, admissions and alumni manager for the EMBA program) booked your tickets yet?’”

“I told him that I had. He said, ‘That settles it. I’m going on the trip. I’ll follow you two anywhere!’ Then he grabbed his laptop and books and left the room with a large percentage of his group following him.”    

Ben’s classmates hope that the scholarship in his name will inspire the Naveen Jindal School of Management student who receives this educational support. By endowing the scholarship, Ben’s memory will live on in perpetuity.

Media Contact: Sara Mancuso, UT Dallas, (972) 883-6507, [email protected],
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]


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