Growing up on a farm in Karnes City, Texas, Longhorn Band alumna Kathy Pustejovsky O’Connor immersed herself in reading to avoid doing chores. “If I was reading a book, Daddy never asked me to go help plant potatoes or shear sheep or whatever he was doing at the time,” Kathy laughs.
Perhaps it was her love of literature that gave her a desire to create “happily ever after” moments, which is her goal in establishing The Kathy Pustejovsky O’Connor Scholarship for the Longhorn Band. Kathy’s endowed scholarship will make significant awards to band members who have graduated from small public high schools, giving them opportunities to experience all the fun she enjoyed as a member of the Showband of the Southwest.
Among Kathy’s favorite Longhorn Band stories are the trip to D.C. to perform at President Reagan’s inauguration and traveling to France with the Longhorn Alumni Band for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. “People were leaning out of their windows cheering as the band marched by,” she recalls.
She also remembers how the band helped her make the adjustment from a small town to the Forty Acres through the community and friendship the band provided. “A lot of small-town kids are a little leery of UT because it’s so big,” says Kathy, who played piccolo. “Well, it’s not when you’re in the band!”
Kathy graduated with a degree in pharmacy in 1981 and credits the band with helping her develop career skills. “Being in the band gave me so much confidence and pride,” she says, “and it helps you develop leadership skills. Every once in a while, we’d go to a game and things weren’t going right and yet somehow we always made it work. In my career, I approached problems the same way. Being in the band helps you become a problem-solver.”
Now retired after 30 years as a pharmacy manager in Dallas, Kathy performs with both the Longhorn Alumni Band and the Frisco Community Band. Knowing her gift is giving students the chance to create memories of their own is just one more happy chapter of Kathy’s life. “Being able to help students out makes me feel wonderful,” she says.