Thieves Can't Steal UT Dallas Pride
Dr. Aaron Conley
Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

President Daniel presents Debra Pickral with a new UT Dallas pendant.
Earlier this year, I received an unusual call from Debra Pickral, one of our alumni here in North Texas. Her home had been robbed recently and among her missing possessions was a jewelry box. Even though this box contained many different pieces, she was most distraught over losing a pendant depicting the UT Dallas seal. She received it upon completing her master's degree in general studies in 1994. She had also completed a bachelor's degree in 1990 in the same school (now the School of Interdisciplinary Studies). "I worked so hard for both degrees," Pickral explained. "This pendant was my reward for more than a decade of persistence to earn these degrees and now it's gone."

Before calling us, she tried the campus bookstore and learned we only offer class rings to new graduates and haven't offered the pendants for years. They suggested contacting the original pendant vendor. That proved to be a dead end so, as a last ditch effort, Pickral picked up the phone and called me.

A few months later, we surprised her by extending an invitation to come to campus to pick up a pendant. A new vendor, Herff Jones, was so touched by the story, they designed and produced a pendant for free. We also had another surprise: President Daniel personally handed Pickral her new pendant. "This was one of the most touching stories of alumni pride I've heard in my entire career," President Daniel said. "I just had to meet Debra and thank her for showing such loyalty to her alma mater."

Pickral, who lives in Fort Worth, has worked her entire career in the federal government and is currently an investigator with the United States Department of Labor. "My UT Dallas education has been invaluable to my career," she said. "I'm so proud to see how the University is growing. I haven't been on campus in years and I almost don't recognize it today!"

As a result of this experience, our new graduates will once again have the option of showing their pride the same way that Pickral does. Students graduating in December will be given the choice of a class ring or a pendant. I'm hopeful they too will feel the same level of pride and loyalty as Debra Pickral (but without going through the experience of having their home robbed).
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