[November 17, 2022 – Blog] Last week was one of the most memorable moments of my life as I received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. This year marks the 63rd year that the University of Texas has selected a handful of graduates to receive the legendary orange jacket, a symbol of their highest honor. It feels a bit like winning the Masters Golf Tournament and the ceremonial green jacket. Once the jacket is on, suddenly, you are part of an elite club that few have the privilege to join.
My acceptance speech was entitled “Love Stories,” and I started by sharing the history of our great grandfather, who blazed a trail from Tennessee to Texas in the 1800s. He and his fiancée had devised a plan as they traveled the treacherous trail. He would go before her and carve a heart in a tree, and she would follow days later and etch another heart on the same tree and join it with a bar. This design became the Double Heart cattle brand that they used and we still use today on the Texas Longhorns at our ranch.
I like to tie this story to the thousands of students, faculty and staff who blazed their own trails before our time. Each of us have the responsibility to follow and either embellish, complete or innovate the work done by those who came before us. We have the honor of carving that symbolic heart in the tree.
Finally, one last love story: I was in high school when I first walked into Memorial Stadium. I was overwhelmed as the crowd broke into “Texas Fight,” and all I could say to myself was “I want to be a part of THIS.” So, when I walked on to that same field last Saturday to be recognized with this award, that voice of a small-town girl was inside me saying, “we are ALL a part of this.”
I am truly humbled to be honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award; it means the world to me. I cannot thank the Texas Exes enough. I am also grateful for my family. I thank my partner in all things, Lee and our children, Rebecca, Ben and Sam for their constant support.
In this time of giving thanks, I am filled with gratitude for all the support you have shown me over the years. As you celebrate next week’s holiday, I hope you think about your own love stories. May you hold those memories near and dear, and have the opportunity to make many more.
Wishing you all a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving,
Founder. Author. Artist. Trailblazer.
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