“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.