verybody's seen him, yet nobody knows his true identity. It sounds like the setup for a riddle or a superhero movie, but it's the reality for UNT's Scrappy -- the mascot life, it turns out, entails keeping a pretty awesome secret close to the vest, at least until graduation. But now that he's crossed the Coliseum stage -- in oversized Eagle feet, no less -- Mac Neuroth ('19) can reveal he was the man behind the mask. Here, the biology graduate discusses his journey at UNT and what it was like to spend two years as one of the university's most recognizable characters.

What made you decide UNT was the right fit?

When I toured UNT, I fell in love with the campus. Even though it's a big school, it has a small-school vibe and you don't feel like just another number. My organic chemistry teacher, Dr. Sushama Dandekar, encouraged me in the field and eventually asked me to serve as her study group leader, helping other students with anything they didn't understand from the lecture. She later helped me with my personal statement for dental school. I'm forever in her debt.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a transfer student, and how did you overcome them?

Shyness was the biggest obstacle I faced after transferring to UNT my junior year. It was hard for me to make new friends at first. But after some spitballing, I decided to get involved.

What led you to audition to be Scrappy?

Tracy Frier, assistant director of spirit and traditions at the UNT Student Activities Center, sent an email to the student body asking: "Do you have what it takes to be Scrappy? Sign up now." I was still trying to find where I fit in, so I thought I'd give mascot tryouts a shot since I was a mascot in high school. I went in and auditioned and walked around in the suit. I never thought I'd make it, but I worked hard and put myself out there -- and I was chosen.

What was it like to be Scrappy?

Being Scrappy has been one of the greatest experiences of my college career. It helped me overcome my shyness. Behind the uniform, I had become comfortable going up to anyone to greet or sit with them. That attitude stayed with me even when I wasn't Scrappy. Now, I could easily talk and sit with new people. I learned that they may be just as shy as I was and are eager to get to know people.

And being Scrappy really helped me realize what it means to be a Mean Green Eagle and how important traditions are at UNT. Aside from crowd surfing at Apogee during football games and dancing with the cheerleaders, dancers and singers at the bonfire during Homecoming, I've been part of the New Orleans and Albuquerque bowl games and competed at the Daytona Cheer Nationals.

But the biggest thrill has been how I've been able to make fans, who often were complete strangers, happy. Someone could have been having the worst day of their life, and I was the one to turn it around and bring them joy. When I put on that Scrappy suit, I realized I helped to embody UNT and what makes this school great. We're inclusive and the student body is very close. It's been the greatest honor to be UNT's mascot and spread that joy with the fans.

What are your future plans?

I'll be starting at the UT Health Houston School of Dentistry in the fall and was accepted into its summer research program, where I'll be helping my mentor conduct research on how aging affects the sealants in teeth. With so many people who don't have access to dental care, I hope to offer more affordable care to my patients one day.

Sarina Davidson
Sarina Davidson
Sarina Davidson ('19)

When Davidson was born, she remained in the NICU for a month, undergoing multiple surgeries to correct a diaphragmatic hernia and missing left lung. Growing up thinking she wouldn't live past the age of 5, she was determined to tackle every challenge head on -- including acceptance to college. Now, Davidson -- who in 2018 faced another set of health challenges -- will use her integrative studies degree in her role at Pinnacle Technical Resources, where she will advise others facing similar struggles. "I believe I have a purpose on this Earth to inspire others," she says.

Viridiana Lopez Barcenas
Viridiana Lopez Barcenas
Viridiana Lopez Barcenas ('19)

Lopez always wanted to be a teacher. Because of her undocumented status, she thought it was a dream that would never be realized. But thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act of 2012 -- and lots of hard work -- she saw that dream come true when she walked across the UNT stage in May. She hopes to use her degree in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on bilingual education to teach third grade, but she's open to whatever comes her way. "I want to be an advocate for the children I will teach," she says. "I want to inspire them."

Continue Reading