As Cele Stone set the phone down, excitement and fear welled up in her stomach. She is excited about her future and the opportunities she is going to experience down this new path in her life. But as the excitement subsides fear takes its place. How is she going to manage school, family, and a new career?
“I didn’t know if going back was something I actually wanted,” said Stone, who came to Texas Tech University in 2019 in pursuit of a doctoral degree. Yet, a graduate fellowship lured her to the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications to work on her Ph.D.
Stone is now the innovation development manager at the Innovation Hub at Texas Tech and a doctoral candidate. She received the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Graduate Fellowship in the fall of 2019.
“There’s no way I would have come and got a doctorate because of the expense and the amount of time it takes,” Stone said. Receiving the HLSR Fellowship allowed her to continue her education and even start her dream job at the Innovation Hub.
The HLSR helps 156 undergraduate students and eight graduate students in the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Out of the 156 undergraduate students, 45 of those students have been awarded $35,988 from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Endowed Scholarship, which was established in 1978.
Dylan Davidson, a graduate student working on his master’s in agricultural communications at Texas Tech, received the HLSR Graduate Fellowship in the fall of 2021. Like Stone, he said the fellowship was key in helping him finish his graduate education on campus.
“I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have all those amazing experiences,” Davidson said. “I never would have been able to help teach the adventure media class with Dr. Jerod Foster or have been able to teach the video production class.”
Davidson is now the digital communications lead for Montana Farm Bureau in Bozeman, Montana. He credits the opportunities he had at Texas Tech that helped him grow his skills in video, photography and communications.
“I think that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is such a genuine organization, and they are so supportive.”
Scholarship funding can be a difference-maker for getting students to Texas Tech and in the Davis College, said Matt Williams, assistant director of development in the Davis College.
“It sure is important to receive scholarship funding,” Williams said. “It makes a difference whether you could come to college or continue as a graduate student. Every little bit helps, and I think that’s what our college is proud of.”
Williams helps foster relationships between HLSR and Texas Tech to ensure their generous scholarship funding continues to benefit students in the Davis College. Williams also received the HLSR scholarship when he attended Texas Tech.
Tracee Murph, coordinator of alumni relations in the Davis College, was a first-generation college student that would not have been able to attend college if she did not receive scholarships.
“Scholarships are important so that people can go to school that wouldn’t otherwise financially be able to,” Murph said.
Jenne Arrott, a sophomore agricultural communications major from San Antonio, is a recipient of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Endowed Scholarship.
“I would not have the same experiences,” Arrott said. “I wouldn’t have as much time to be involved or do things outside of work.”
She said receiving the scholarship has encouraged her to make the most of her opportunities at Texas Tech.
“I think the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is such a genuine organization, and they are so supportive,” Arrott said. “I think people should not only do what they can to reach out and receive it, but also know that it comes with a responsibility to do something with it.”
Emily Wilcox, a junior animal science major from Dallas, received the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Endowed Scholarship in the fall of 2021. She said the scholarship has helped her take more classes so she can graduate early. She said she hopes to continue her education at Texas Tech by getting her master’s in speech pathology.
“My favorite part about coming to Tech has been meeting people and helping others,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox works at the Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center where she teaches others how to ride horses. She said working there has helped her learn that one of her passions is helping others.
“Receiving this scholarship has helped me to not be worried financially,” Wilcox said. “Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is truly helpful and generous.”
Jamie Voskamp is the scholarship program manager at HLSR and an alumna of the Davis College. She said each scholar is matched with a donor so they can cultivate a relationship. There are over 2,300 students currently receiving the scholarship from across the state.
Voskamp said 7% of the scholars attend Texas Tech.
The HLSR is not just about helping students financially but also helps students make connections in the industry.
“I know it helped me, and I know it’s still helping people,” Williams said. “The impact that it has made is tremendous, and it’s still making that impact.”