At Southwest Airlines, we believe educated communities are empowered communities. We’re taking all the strides we can to ensure we’re giving students every opportunity to achieve educational success through a variety of scholarship opportunities allowing them to focus on their schoolwork without the financial burden that often comes with earning a college degree.
Recently, as part of Gary Kelly’s induction into the Business Travel Hall of Fame, we were able to present a new scholarship designed to give a hand-up to college students throughout Texas who are pursuing a career in the tourism and hospitality industry. The first recipient of the Gary Kelly Texas Travel & Hospitality Scholarship is Alexis Willis and this scholarship will help her graduate on time from Texas A&M. We were inspired by Alexis and her story so we invited her to share what this scholarship means in her own words:
Being the first person in my family to graduate from college has been a dream of mine since the beginning of high school. While I was thrilled to be a first-generation college student from my family, I was overwhelmed by all the little things that come with earning a degree. For example, I didn’t know how paying for college even worked or whether I would even be able to afford it from semester to semester.
Today, I am in my second to last semester at Texas A&M University and although I had my expenses figured out for my current semester, I still had to figure out how I could afford my last semester in the summer to graduate on time. When I got the email that I was a candidate for the Gary Kelly Texas Hospitality & Tourism scholarship I was over the moon excited and knew exactly how I would use it to make my dream become a reality. Being selected as the recipient is truly an honor and a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life. The scholarship has taken a weight off my shoulders and provided me with so many opportunities including opportunities to complete my internship and most importantly I get to graduate on time! But this scholarship means more to me than the opportunities and honor itself. Coming from the environment I grew up in, education was my only escape and frankly, I did not think that attending college was going to be a part of my future. I thought that I was destined to be stuck in the same environment I had known my whole life. However, with this opportunity, I will be able to graduate and step into a career that has been a passion of mine; providing people with lifelong memories they can cherish forever. I cannot thank Southwest Airlines and its team enough for their generosity, continuous support, and kindness throughout the process of accepting the scholarship.
From Left to Right: Gary Kelly, Alexis Willis, and Dave Harvey