Selena Garcia, a junior education student, is excited to become an elementary school teacher, just like some of UNT's first students when the university began as a teachers college 125 years ago.
"I was really interested to learn that the original purpose of the school was to train teachers," she says. "I chose my field of study because I love children, and the idea of being able to help teach the future generations excites me."
But Garcia's journey would not be possible without support from other dedicated alums who have walked in her shoes generations earlier. As the inaugural recipient of the William T. "Bill" and Margie Bryant Scholarship for UNT College of Education students, Garcia says the scholarship is helping her to fulfill her dream of becoming an educator.
"This scholarship has really helped me take a load off of my parents," says Garcia, an Emerald Eagle Scholar and first-generation college student from Rockwall. "I am trying so hard to get through school without any loans. My mom works three part-time jobs and my dad works seven days a week to help support me. Earning this scholarship helps me show them that I want my education as much as they do."
Garcia says she has benefited from UNT's diverse and friendly campus.
"There is no judgment here," she says. "People are respectful of your beliefs and what you stand for as a person. Everyone is very friendly, and I love that the campus is environmentally green."
The benefactors of this scholarship, Margie Bryant ('52) and her late husband, Bill ('56), went on to become successful educators. Both had long teaching and administrative careers and retired from Arlington ISD. In 1993, the Bill and Margie Bryant Elementary School was named after them. Bryant still volunteers there.
"UNT was the best teachers college around," Bryant says. "I lived in Bruce Hall and was very active with the Baptist Student Union. I received a very good education at UNT."
Bryant, who recently met Garcia, says she is the perfect student to be the first recipient of the scholarship. They visited the Bill and Margie Bryant Elementary School together.
"I wanted her to know that she has a whole school behind her. Selena is delightful with a great deal of potential. My husband and I wanted to touch the future," Bryant says. "We have achieved that mission through her. We were Depression kids and we have always felt that the way up and out is through education. That's why I give."
She told Garcia, "Remember this day and pass it forward," and thanks to the Bryants' example of generosity, Garcia is certain she will.