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EMBA Class Remembers Young Alumnus Through Memorial Fellowship

From left: Tom Allred BS'12 EMBA'15, Kilynn Sommer EMBA'15, Ben Mesa EMBA'15 and Jeff Steele EMBA'15 graduated last spring. Members of Ben's class are now raising funds for a memorial fellowship in his honor.

Former classmates, friends and family of Ruben “Ben” Mesa EMBA’15 are making sure memories of him live on.

The group raised $34,000 for a memorial fellowship to honor the 44-year-old father of two who died in a boating accident on Grapevine Lake just a couple of weeks after his spring graduation.

For three months, Ben’s Executive MBA 2015 class used the University’s crowdfunding platform, Impact UTD, to raise funds for an an endowed fellowship in his honor.

"More than 80 donors participated in the effort. Ben’s sons, Zachary, 17, and Aidan, 14, and fiancée, JoAnne Blanchette, were the first to contribute to the fellowship.

“The Mesa family is so grateful to the 2015 EMBA class for its hard work and dedication to Ben's scholarship,” Blanchette said. “The continued support and love that they have for Ben exemplifies the strong connection that Ben had with everyone he met.”

Strong bonds are forged in the EMBA program, which is cohort-based and puts students together for 21 months of classes and several trips. Ben’s classmates hope that the fellowship will inspire the Naveen Jindal School of Management graduate students who benefit from it.

The need-based fellowship is expected to be awarded for the fall 2017 semester.

“The determination of the EMBA’15 class to ensure Ben’s impact would continue on to future students is very inspiring, and I’m happy the Impact UTD crowdfunding platform could assist in its fundraising effort,” said Marcus Baker, manager of Impact UTD.

Impact UTD showcases student, faculty and staff fundraising projects. The website offers a tool for alumni, friends and families to make a positive impact on the issues they care about most.

Teams use their social networks to connect with potential supporters who share a similar passion for their causes. Supporters can contribute gifts of all sizes, and will see updates from organizers about their project’s progress.

Impact UTD is the University’s crowdfunding platform.

Here are current projects: Alumni of the Academic Bridge Program are raising scholarship funds in honor of the program’s 15 year anniversary.

Alumni are crowdfunding for the Chinese Leadership Scholarship, which would provide endowed support for students in the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

Setting Projects in Motion is helping to fund new supplies for the motion capture lab housed in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building.

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