Emphasis on Education Takes Center Stage at Scholarship Breakfast

Former Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (left) and Ray Hemmig, a member of the Naveen Jindal School of Management’s advisory council, discussed how important education is to the future of North Texas.

During the 2019 Scholarship Breakfast, former Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said that to make North Texas a better community, its residents must come together and educate young people — young people like Jason Manzala.

Manzala, a finance sophomore in the Naveen Jindal School of Management at The University of Texas at Dallas, is a member of the Jindal Young Scholars Program, which benefits from the school’s largest annual fundraiser.

“Let me say that I am very glad to have that scholarship, because without it, I probably would not be in college, and I most definitely would not be up here,” he told the audience at the Oct. 30 event at the Westin Galleria in Dallas. “I want to thank the Jindal School and everyone here for providing this great opportunity in my life.”

This year, the breakfast raised funds to provide scholarships for more than 40 students, according to Dr. Diane McNulty, associate dean for external affairs and corporate relations. Since the program’s inception in 2009 through 2018, it has raised more than $750,000 and funded more than 450 scholarships for Jindal School students.

The UT Dallas 50th Anniversary Celebration sponsor was Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. Other sponsors were the Beck Group, Intuit, Merit Energy and State Farm.

Touting Students, Tying Freedom to Education 

Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Caruth Chair and Jindal School dean, shared the school’s achievements in enrollment and academic rankings, before focusing on one of his favorite topics — students.

“I want to take a minute to brag … on our students,” he said. “Our students are in high demand across the nation. The very top companies come to recruit at the Jindal School, and the feedback is incredible. Our students are doing a great job once they get to work.”

Jason Manzala

Ray Hemmig, a member of the Jindal School’s advisory council, and Rawlings, who served as Dallas mayor from 2011 to 2019, discussed how education is essential to free enterprise and a stronger North Texas community.

Rawlings said the primary reason that the region lost its bid to become Amazon’s second world headquarters was the company’s need for tens of thousands of highly qualified tech workers. “They saw it on the East Coast because of the academic institutions,” he said. “[I’m] not saying they’re better institutions — there are just more of them, and they’ve been around longer.”

Rawlings described what he sees as an existential issue for the region to stay economically competitive.

“We have got to rethink how we do higher education,” he said. “And as [Dean Pirkul] and I talked about, how do we scale this [program]?”

He said the scaling would need to be in the thousands for the region to remain competitive and would require cooperation among all its institutions of higher learning. The focus needs to be on making the region a “machine that’s helping us grow,” he said.

That growth is the strategic, logical reason for having programs such as the Jindal Young Scholars, which he said is helping North Texas become an economic powerhouse.

When Hemmig asked Rawlings what one thing he wanted the audience to remember, Rawlings emphasized the need for hope.

“When you feel the world is falling apart around you, don’t give up hope,” he said. “We need you to be examples of that. UTD has got to be a beacon [of] hope for these kids.”

Jindal Young Scholars Program director Billy Schewee (center) with Scholars (from left) Joshua Jernigan, Ariana Morales, Samuel Villalobos, Giovanny Lopez, Jenna O’Brien, Chris Adkins, Jacob Gonzalez and Jason Manzala.

Media Contact: Jimmie Markham, Naveen Jindal School of Management, (972) 883-5079, [email protected], or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].