Darwin Family GeoFORCE Texas Fund
The Darwins believe in the importance of promoting the early success of future earth scientists. That’s why Pam (MS ’84) and her husband Barnes led the way in creating the first formal endowment for the GeoFORCE Texas program.
“We know that what we have done is a small token, but we hope that if others join this effort it will make a broad impact on the future of so many wonderful students,” says Darwin, Vice President at ExxonMobil.
GeoFORCE Texas, the nation’s largest college prep program for earth sciences based at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, fills a critical need by inspiring the next generation of geoscientists. It also fosters increased diversity in the U.S. workforce. The program rewards outstanding students from select South Texas Independent School Districts and Houston schools from grades 8-12 with the chance to travel the country, meet inspiring people and learn about opportunities for careers in the geosciences.
Darwin attended her first GeoFORCE event last year. The program has long been supported by her employer, but it was the first time she was able to meet these extraordinary students and hear their stories. The encounter prompted her to find ways to support the program.
“This was the first time that many of the students had ever traveled outside of Texas ” she says. “They were so excited about what they’d seen and their parents were excited too. The kids were at the top of their respective classes, but they hadn’t had exposure to a lot of other kids who liked math and science. So it was very fulfilling for them. And it was touching for me.”
Darwin recalls how a wonderful earth science teacher inspired her to learn about the world around her when she was only 12 years old. She hopes GeoFORCE will have that same power to inspire these students.
Darwin family: (L to R) Sarah, Kristin, Tyler, with Barnes and Pam behind.
“It doesn’t matter whether they go into math or science,” she says. “What’s important is that it offers them a view into science. They can see what it’s like to be a scientist, hear what graduate school is like and learn what people in industry do. It’s a great opportunity to go beyond what they get in the classroom.”
Darwin enhanced her family’s gift by using ExxonMobil’s 3:1 matching program and the Jackson School’s own 1:1 matching program. This immediately grew their fund to $100,000.
The Darwin Family GeoFORCE Texas Fund will assure the long term availability of resources so students admitted to the program can continue their geosciences journey throughout high school, into college and beyond.
First GeoFORCE Grads Go to College
This fall, the first cohort of 80 students to complete all four years of the GeoFORCE Texas program—all graduates of southwest Texas high schools—are heading to college. A whopping 90 percent were accepted into colleges and universities, with 63 percent majoring in science, engineering or math.
In the last 10 years, no student from the southwest Texas high schools making up the GeoFORCE network went on to graduate with a geosciences degree from the University of Texas at Austin. This year, 12 GeoFORCE graduates are attending UT Austin, 5 of which are pursuing majors in the Jackson School.