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Graduate Leaves Legacy of Giving Behind

Graduate Leaves Legacy of Giving Behind

For the last three years, Michelle Eng has risen at 4:30am twice a week in order to serve breakfast to the homeless before heading to class. But what is even more impressive about this pre-med graduating senior is her spirited enthusiasm and the fact that the hours spent downtown are a tiny portion of what she donates to Austin's campus and community.

Photo by Vivian Abagiu

Eng, originally from San Antonio, will be graduating as part of the 100th commencement for the School of Human Ecology with a Bachelor of Science and Arts in nutrition. We asked her about her busy time on campus—in fact, we wondered if she ever slept!—and plans for her future.

Now that you are graduating, what have you learned from your time at UT Austin?

I was not prepared for college. I failed my first exam and freaked out, fixing this by studying incredibly hard to get an "A." I switched my major to nutrition because I really enjoyed the classes. I think that nutrition should be a prerequisite for medical students and health professionals.

My college career was an ongoing circle of insanity and indecisiveness, which is why the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP) is the best thing for me to get involved in. TIP has phenomenal, bright, driven students—a huge community that helped me succeed. After my freshman year, when I was so lost, I wanted to give others some direction. I trained to be a mentor during sophomore year and learned to be a leader. I spend most of my time in FAC, with the TIP program.

What inspires you to volunteer, and what have you accomplished?

What better way is there to allocate your time than serving others? I'm helping. That's all that matters to me.

I joined Texas Sweethearts, a spirit, service and social organization, my freshman year. We started with Pencils of Promise and raised money to build a school in Africa. Later, we raised money and made care packages for the Austin Child Guidance Center and Big Love Cancer Care.

Although I made a community with Texas Sweethearts, I wanted to branch out and do more. In addition to feeding the homeless, I spent over two years with TexasTHON, the largest student-run philanthropy.As a group, we raised $282,338 for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. TexasTHON is amazing. We visit the kids in the hospital and get the satisfaction seeing the impact of raising so much money. Every kid deserves to grow up and do what they want.

TexasTHON event with Michelle Eng in front, right

Did you do any special projects as part of your major?

I had an internship at the Johnson Center for Child Health and Development where I came up with lesson plans to teach nutrition to young children. I also had a sports-nutrition internship.

What will you do after graduation?

I eventually want to go to med school, but also I want to take time off, branch out and do something different. For the next two years I will be working in Memphis as part of Teach for America. I know that they are putting me where there is a high need for science teachers. Moving in a few weeks will be a big transition since I have never lived outside of Texas. But I want to bring out the best in students who don't think they can make it. Grit is a stepping-stone to success, and I know the students I am about to teach have grit. They just need the push to find it!

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Friday, 03 February 2023

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