As women continue to assume positions in business traditionally held by men — and fight for the same pay as their male counterparts — their philanthropic endeavors continue to rise as well. In fact, “by 2030, women will control an estimated $33.5 trillion in North America, and their charitable giving could reach $569.5 billion annually,” according to Women Moving Millions, a New York-based nonprofit organization.
The reasons why women give are equally as important as what they give to, and for the three Naveen Jindal School of Management alumnae featured here, giving back to the university that helped them on their path to success is not only a source of pride, but the right thing to do to build an educational legacy.
Saadia Sheikh, BS 2009, vice president at E Smith Realty Partners and a certified commercial investment member of the CCIM Institute, represents tenants and users of commercial space nationally in all transactions from renewals, expansions, site selection, general consultation and purchases.
She credits the Jindal School with teaching her the many lessons that she continues to use today. “One lesson that I have applied to my career is focusing on accomplishing my goal,” she said. “I have achieved many milestones in my career by having a clear, concise plan.
Inspired by her former mentor, Debi Carter, BS 1993, who created an endowment at the Jindal School, Sheikh decided to do the same and established the Saadia Sheikh Scholarship/Fellowship for Entrepreneurship. This is the first endowed scholarship/fellowship for undergraduate or graduate students studying entrepreneurship.
“I wanted to give back to the university that gave so much to me and inspire other students to be entrepreneurial, which is a major factor in real estate,” she said.
For Sheikh, success and philanthropy go hand in hand. “I truly believe philanthropy comes from the good intentions and goodwill to serve others,” she said. “It is important to have the balance of philanthropy in your life with the natural human instinct to win and be successful. We are all only as successful as the community and environment around us.”
“My most indelible lessons from the Jindal School during my time there were to form teams early in the process, respect each other’s strengths, address the weaknesses together and include the present as well as the future in every decision,” said Gigi Edwards Bryant, GLEMBA 2002, founder and president of GMSA Management.
After re-engaging with UT Dallas through the Institute for Excellence in Corporate Governance and seeing the changes and improvements to the Jindal School, Bryant was inspired to give back. The Gigi Edwards Bryant Champions Scholarship will be awarded to undergraduate or graduate students who have previously been in foster care and/or have made a positive impact on the lives of children in the foster-care system through volunteerism or advocacy.
“I wanted the scholarship to be specific to children in the foster-care system and the people that support them because that support is lacking for our children,” said Bryant. “I am committed to their well-being and supporting their education, but, mostly, I believe that ‘foster’ is not an indicator as to what children are born for — it’s a very expensive indicator as to how we are failing our children. Education can and will change the mindset and the dynamics, if not for the past, then certainly for the future. It did it for me, and I was thrilled to find out that this was the first of its kind for UT Dallas.”
Edwards believes that philanthropy and compassion are synonymous. “I taught my children to be kind and caring, and embracing giving as a way of life became a family practice,” she said. “Philanthropy is equally important to women and men because we participate from all different interests, communities and beliefs. The key is concentrating on the efforts of your time, talents and treasures in order to do the most good.”
The graduate degree in finance that Judy Hendrick, MS 1986, chief financial officer for Aimbridge Hospitality, earned at UT Dallas directly impacted her career. “My undergraduate degree is in psychology from Kansas State University, but I could not afford to continue going to school full time, so I accepted a position with Chase Manhattan’s loan office in Dallas in office administration and contract administration,” said Hendrick. “I soon realized that it would be helpful if I had more understanding of financial statements, and by taking classes at night for several years, I was able to earn my master’s degree and advance my career further than I ever thought possible.”
Hendrick decided to help others do the same by establishing the Hazel Elise Rogers Scholarship/Fellowship for Finance, the first endowed scholarship/fellowship in finance, in honor of her mother.
“My mother has always inspired me to pursue education and a rewarding career,” said Hendrick. “I feel like it is my way of showing her how much that means to me by establishing this scholarship in her name.”
Giving back is not an option but a requirement for Hendrick, and it is the greatest privilege for her to be in a position to do so.
“Philanthropy is scriptural and is clearly explained in Luke 12:48, which says that from those who much is given, much is required in return,” she said. “I also believe in the gift of giving, which brings back rewards to the giver. What could be more rewarding than to see that you can help someone gain an education who might not be able to otherwise? And then that person can perpetuate that philosophy and help others.”
For information on establishing endowed scholarships, visit jindal.utdallas.edu/give.
— Ray Willhoft