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Hunter Beaton, UT22 Senior

Communication and leadership senior Hunter Beaton uses his UT education to grow his nonprofit and improve lives.

Hunter Beaton

“I remember how nervous I was for my first news interview. I think I was a senior in high school, and I was just so incredibly nervous,” Hunter Beaton says. “I remember I kept asking, can we redo that?”

Chatting with Beaton, one of our outstanding graduates from the class of 2022, you can’t help but admire his friendly, self-assured nature now. Ever since he founded his nonprofit, Day 1 Bags, back in 2016, the communication and leadership major has been the face of his organization, speaking on major networks, channels and shows such as “Good Morning America,” KSAT-TV and NBC. Beaton confides that his composure is due in large part to his communications classes at The University of Texas at Austin.

“A lot of the focus of my classes has been on public speaking,” he says. “After presenting what you’ve researched in front of the class, you’re asked difficult questions. And that has been hugely valuable for my nonprofit work, because if I wasn’t exposed to my fellow classmates asking me insightful questions, it would not have enabled me to answer the news questions.”

Day 1 Bags distributes high-quality bags and backpacks to foster care youth, providing them with dignity and stability. The organization was inspired by his younger adopted siblings, who arrived to Beaton’s home with either a trash bag filled with their belongings or no belongings at all. Beaton chose UT in part to help him determine whether his nonprofit could become his future. He also valued being surrounded by students of various backgrounds and experiences.

“Every single person at UT has a different background and a different reason for who they are and what they want to do,” he says. “It’s really incredible when you get to meet a government major working with the Capitol or a biology major trailblazing in research. The amount of scope that you receive and the amount of people you get to meet is just incredible.”

Not only did Beaton thrive in the Longhorn community but he was also exposed to new perspectives that helped him expand his nonprofit. During his freshman year, Beaton organized a Thanksgiving celebration for UT foster students so they could have a sense of family over the holidays. Meeting with these students and hearing about their experiences, Beaton realized his nonprofit could expand to meet the needs of older foster youths. He then launched the Adopt a 2022 Senior From Foster Care Campaign at Day 1 Bags, allowing donors to gift a bag with supplies to foster students who are graduating from high school and leaving the foster care system.

Beaton passing out bags at Comal County Sheriff's Office
Beaton distributes Day 1 Bags in Central Texas.

Beaton is especially grateful for the support of his professors in navigating the nonprofit world. He recalls that the communication and leadership faculty took time out of their schedules to answer his questions and walk him through the demanding aspects of nonprofit leadership. They also encouraged him to use what he learned and apply it to his nonprofit.

“UT has helped me develop the courage to make hard decisions, to calculate the possibilities and to take the next steps to change the world,” he says.

For Beaton, his next step is to work at Day 1 Bags full time, using the knowledge and skills from his degree to grow his organization. Though it was a difficult decision, he says, he decided to complete his degree in three years in order to follow his passion of nonprofit work. He advises future Longhorns that staying true to yourself is the best way to discover your true passions and, ultimately, your true purpose. “Just be who you are and know that it’s OK to be uncomfortable. However big or small the things you are doing might seem, these are all things that are going to help you grow.”

Media Contact

University Communications
Email: UTMedia@utexas.edu
Phone: (512) 471-3151

The University of Texas at Austin

Kiara Kabbara, UT22 Senior

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