College students of many races smile and throw the UTexas 'Hook 'em Horns" symbol

Donors Uplift Texas Global During 40 Hours for the Forty Acres

  • Apr 4, 2024
  • Global Initiatives
  • Gwendolyn Reed

April 2024 will mark the 10th anniversary of 40 Hours for the Forty Acres, The University of Texas at Austin’s annual day of giving, when thousands of generous alumni, organizations, students, faculty and staff members donate to support the Longhorn pursuits that matter the most to them, from the Black Student Alliance to Texas Taekwondo, Engineers for a Sustainable World, the UT Sailing Team or the initiatives of Texas Global. 

Occurring every spring, the giving festivities are just around the corner. This year’s fundraising will commence at 6 a.m. Wednesday, April 10, and conclude at 10 p.m. Thursday, April 11. Over the past decade, 40 for Forty has become one of the most successful university giving days in the United States.  

Many alumni and friends choose to support Texas Global’s efforts. These include providing international student scholarships, which abate financial obstacles for students and draw global talent to UT. Education Abroad scholarships provide access to study abroad opportunities, allowing students with financial constraints to study in academic programs in more than 100 different countries.  

Donations can also support the President’s Award for Global Learning, a signature program of the University’s International Board of Advisors that empowers students and faculty to examine worldwide challenges together, both inside the classroom and outside the U.S. The funds raised for the President’s Award cover research and travel expenses for participating interdisciplinary teams. 

“Funding contributed during 40 for Forty allows Texas Global to open doors that help international students thrive at UT and contribute valuable insight to the academic discourse on campus,” said Fiona Mazurenko, director of Global Initiatives and Alumni Relations. “It empowers Longhorns to study, research and intern across the globe, further growing UT’s community of global leaders and changemakers. We are so grateful for the generosity and commitment of the Longhorn community.” 

Alumni Donors Give Back 

Mandy Lai, a former international engineering student from Hong Kong, graduated from UT Austin in 2004 and is now a civil engineer at the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland, California. Lai contributes monthly to support scholarships for international students following her experience with the International Student and Scholarship Services (ISSS) unit. She said she donates because during her time as an undergrad, ISSS was instrumental in helping her transition into and navigate life as an international student. 

UT Alumna Mandy Lai

“[ISSS provided me] assistance in anything from immigration and taxes to employment,” Lai said. “I would like to help ISSS to continue to have the resources to support future generations of international students, so that they, too, will have a successful experience at UT and beyond.”  

UT Austin is the home away from home for more than 6,000 international students who are proud to represent more than 130 countries. A strong infrastructure is imperative for supporting those who choose to pursue a degree outside their home countries, away from their families and far from their comfort zones.

Many alumni may have experienced the benefits of this support themselves. 40 for Forty is an exciting opportunity for passionate alumni and current members of the campus community to give back to the programs that served them throughout their time on the Forty Acres. 

As an international Longhorn, Lai accessed resources and support from ISSS in the form of personalized academic and financial advising, immigration and visa guidance, social activities and more. She utilized services offered via the Engineering Career Assistance Center, which holds career fairs, interview trainings and information sessions aimed to guide students through the job-search process. 

“I hope more alumni, especially those who had a positive experience in global engagement while at UT, will become — and remain — regularly recurring donors,” Lai said. 

‘Texas-Sized Day of Giving’ 

As the UT community comes together to make every dollar count, the competitive and lively spirit of 40 for Forty creates a conducive environment to encourage giving to Longhorn projects, organizations and schools. Incentives and appeals abound, with numerous matches and challenges available to compound donations. For instance, during President Hartzell’s Power Hour, happening 3-4 p.m. on both days, donations supporting student initiatives are matched dollar-for-dollar.

The “Texas-sized day of giving” benefits more than 200 different university programs and organizations, providing ample opportunities for donors to direct their gifts. When deciding on a program to fund, donors can choose one or more of the many participating groups or simply select “area of greatest need” for optimal flexibility.

The campaign began in 2014, raising $140,000 from almost 2,000 donors in its first year. Ten years later, UT celebrates the participation of more than 7,000 Longhorns annually. Over the past decade, more than 34,000 donors have given a total of $60.7 million, creating a direct, significant impact on projects and pursuits across campus and beyond.  

Students Supported by Scholarships  

Alexa Aguilar Izquierdo, a current mechanical engineering student from Monterrey, Mexico, was awarded the Carlos and Clara Quintanilla Scholarship for the Spring 2023 and 2024 semesters. The scholarship aims to support students who have resided in Mexico and are pursuing a degree at the Cockrell School of Engineering. 

Portrait of Education Abroad student Alexa Izquierdo

Izquierdo caught the travel bug early, with a trip to Switzerland in eighth grade and a semester in the United Kingdom during her junior year of high school. A huge advocate for study abroad, she says such opportunities “foster intercultural learning and allow for learning experiences that are not possible in a classroom.” 

Being awarded the scholarship did wonders for Izquierdo’s ability to plug into student organizations, projects and leadership roles in the Cockrell School and beyond. Interacting with UT Austin’s student population, so large and diverse in backgrounds and personal experiences as well as in majors and academic pursuits, she said, helped her develop a respect for how big the world is outside her own life. 

“I would love to see more funding for international students in the future,” Izquierdo said. “Investing in an education abroad is not an easy decision; it tends to require a financial sacrifice on behalf of the student's family, and scholarships for such students can encourage the decision to study abroad because they will feel supported and valued.” 

40 for Forty is an exciting opportunity that allows staff, faculty, students, alumni and friends to come together to transform dreams into reality, enabling Longhorns access to life-changing international experiences that shape their personal and professional goals. Stay up to date on the campaign or make a donation at Follow @UTexasGlobal and join in by sharing why you’re supporting #UT40for40.