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Jen Duggan Endowed Graduate Fellowship

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Jen Duggan
Jen Duggan

The Jen Duggan Endowed Graduate Fellowshipwas created in January 2000 to provide tuition assistance for master’s degree candidates who are committed to public service. Emphasis is given to those pursuing the study of inequality and its societal effects.

Jen Duggan was the ideal LBJ School student: passionate about public service, serious about her coursework, and an active member of the LBJ School student community.  She graduated from the School’s master’s program in 1999 with a 4.0 grade point average and wrote her master’s professional report on the effects of inequality on public health, a topic that touched on all her policy interests: poverty, health care, social justice, and equality of opportunity.

Accepted by Georgetown University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, Jen was torn as to which school to attend. Georgetown’s name recognition held tremendous appeal, but the financial considerations were incomparable. Nevertheless, Jen’s parents told her they would enable her to attend the school of her choice, but the choice had to be hers.

After exploring the benefits of each program, it was clear to Jen that the LBJ School was a hidden Texas treasure in that it provided a more rigorous and focused curriculum that would allow her to build her studies around the founding values of the school.  Jen’s commitment to the idea that all people are created equal and deserving of equal treatment, legally and morally, was a natural extension of LBJ’s policy work toward the “Great Society.”  After spending three days visiting the Georgetown campus and meeting with its faculty and students, Jen returned convinced that her goals and life work were more aligned with the Texas program that prepared others like her to enter into the public policy field and tear down those barriers that prevented so many from receiving the benefits of this great nation.

After Jen’s death in December 1999, her parents, Robert and Laurie Duggan, established the fellowship in her name at the LBJ School. According to her mother, they chose to memorialize their daughter through an endowed fellowship for several reasons.

“We wanted something that would be perpetual” she said, “something that could provide a vehicle to prepare others to carry forward the message and the work that Jen so strongly believed in—that all people are created equal and therefore deserving of equal treatment, legally and morally, regardless of race, age, gender, religion, sexual preference, income level, etc. We wanted something that would bear her name and her legacy long after we were gone.”

The Duggan family also wanted to reduce the financial burden on students so they—like Jen—would be able to meet the demands of a rigorous education while attending the school of their choice.

“Jen was serious about education,” said Laurie Duggan. “She had always been a great student and she had always worked to help defray expenses, but the demands of graduate school made finding an outside job with a flexible schedule very difficult. When we removed the need for Jen to work, she was free to devote more time to her studies and her community involvement. We felt that establishing a fellowship would provide a similar benefit for another LBJ School student while honoring our daughter in a very meaningful way.  It was an obvious choice for us, and we’re sure Jen would have agreed.”

According to Jen’s mother, the final factor in their decision was the immediate growth potential of the endowment.  “I work for ExxonMobil and they have a terrific matching funds program allowing three-to-one matches against personal contributions from qualifying contributors.  We knew that with this added help, a fellowship fund could grow very quickly into something that would ultimately make a significant difference in the lives of many.”

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