On April 3 and 4, 2014 Longhorns everywhere had exactly 40 hours to raise $40,000 through a new effort that included email, phone, social media and a student fundraising event. 40 Hours for the Forty Acres offered a challenge to encourage alumni and students to join in and give back. The culmination of the fundraising event reaped an astounding 2,104 donations totaling $128,516.
Jennifer Waisath Harris, UT alumna and owner of JWH Communications, contributed $5,000 to the effort. She describes her transformational educational experience at UT Austin and the reasons she participated in the 40 for Forty campaign.
“What made the inaugural Forty for 40 Campaign so innovative and important was the emphasis on empowering students and alumni to give back together and to unite behind a common goal to build a stronger, more vibrant and enduring University of Texas at Austin for generations of Longhorns yet to walk on the 40 Acres. Given that it was the first UT campaign effort driven by and through social media made it innovative and exciting. Its core goal of instilling the value of philanthropy in the current student population and among young alumni was also something I valued. ”
Harris says her studies at The University of Texas at Austin transformed her life and prepared her for a successful professional career. “The academic rigor, the traditions, the friendships I forged and the professional connections I continue to make through the vast network of Longhorn alumni are priceless takeaways from my years at UT Austin as an undergraduate and graduate student.”
Using her strong liberal arts education, Harris has worked for a former U.S. Ambassador, two Texas Secretaries of State and as the spokesperson for several state agencies, as well as elected and appointed state officials. She has managed public affairs and communication campaigns in the private sector for Fortune 50 companies, statewide and national associations and international businesses.
Harris hopes that gifts like hers can ensure that UT Austin’s College of Liberal Arts is able to continue providing an unparalleled experience and high-quality education for students, made possible when students, alumni, faculty and staff stand together and support this top-tier institution.
“Giving back to the university that afforded me so many opportunities and set me on a path for success in life is something I view as a responsibility and a calling,” she says. “If you bleed burnt orange, you should give burnt orange. Regardless of how small or large the donation, we can make a big impact together.”
Harris holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors (’95) and a Master of Arts (’02) from The University of Texas at Austin. A Life Member of the Texas Exes, Harris is also a fellow with the Next Generation Project Texas at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Law and Security at UT Austin. Harris lives in Austin with her husband and young son.
FEATURE IMAGE: President Bill Powers and Jennifer Waisath Harris show their Longhorn pride during the 40 for Forty campaign. Photo by Callie Richmond.