Held on Wednesday, May 1 in the Texas Union, the 6th Annual Sponsored Student Reception brought together sponsored students and the UT staff and faculty who support them. The event recognized the hard work the students have done and the unique contributions they have made over the past academic year. Sponsored Student Coordinator Liz Smith, ISSS Director Dr. Teri Albrecht, and Director of External Relations Darcy McGillicuddy all spoke during the program and emphasized sponsored students’ important role and impact on campus. They also thanked all of the countless individuals across the UT community who dedicate their time and energy to supporting these exceptional students.
The reception’s keynote speaker was Tawfik Rajab, a Libyan PhD student in Pharmacy. Tawfik’s journey has been an arduous but successful one: his studies at UT were going smoothly until 2011, when his country was consumed by civil war. Sponsored by the Libyan government, Tawfik found himself unable to receive his funding due to a global freeze on Libyan financial assets. In his remarks Tawfik delivered his sincere thanks to the UT and International Office staff members who helped him receive emergency funding and a work authorization. As the strife in Libya continued, Tawfik’s concern grew for his family back home and his future in Austin. In a unique display of compassion and generosity, however, an anonymous donor provided a gift dedicated to assisting Libyan students at UT weather the crisis and continue their studies. Tawfik is on track to complete his PhD and begin working in the Pharmacy field.