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UT News

UT for Me Celebrates First Class of Four-Year Graduates

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On Wednesday, May 8, UT for Me – Powered by Dell Scholars celebrated a milestone four years in the making: graduating its first class of four-year graduates.

UT for Me’s Class of 2024 arrived at The University of Texas at Austin in August 2020, five months into the COVID-19 pandemic and seven months after the program was announced.

“What kept us going in the most unprecedented times, as we tried to continually readapt to our new normal, was the resilience and perseverance of our students, the graduates in this room and those who will join you on stage at your college commencements and affinity ceremonies,” UT for Me Director KJ Harris told graduates and guests at the program’s celebration. “Your determination to succeed, to continue despite the ever-changing academic landscape amid a global pandemic was, and continues to be, awe-inspiring.”

In the face of these challenges, UT for Me’s first class not only persevered but persisted. This spring, more than 1,300 students graduated. Leading up to 2024, 310 UT for Me students graduated early, including the program’s first graduate in December 2021. Each graduate moves the needle closer to UT for Me’s goal of increasing the six-year graduation rate for Pell-eligible students at UT from 73% to 90%, a rate that climbed to 81.3% in 2023.

Spring 2024 graduates like Fei Liu, a mechanical engineering major with an Elements of Computing certificate, from Katy, Texas, will now take their next steps into careers, graduate school and more. For Liu, that means working as a semiconductor engineer at Infineon Technologies.

“UT for Me has given me the resources I needed to succeed,” Liu said of his time in the program. “The community positively reinforces you to succeed. I would not have made it to my graduation without the amazing individuals who walked with me.”

In addition to a new laptop and an annual textbook credit to the University Co-op, UT for Me students benefit from a dedicated team of full-time staff and student staff who provide academic and financial aid support and host events exclusively for UT for Me students.

To date, UT for Me has served more than 9,400 students, and the program will welcome its fifth class this fall. But its first class will “always have a home with UT for Me,” Harris said. “Our jobs at UT for Me are to serve as your champions and advocates from your first day at orientation to your final crossing on stage at graduation. But, truly, you are the champions. You are your own best advocates and you have made this campus a better place by your presence.”