The University of Texas TOWER Fellows Program Hosts Third Cohort

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TOWER Fellows Program offers a guided opportunity to explore, discover, and learn in preparation for their next chapter.

Our program allows fellows to explore potential new paths meaningful to them and take advantage of the university’s resources in ways they hadn’t considered before. The possibilities are endless when you have the time and guidance to imagine and explore.

Now in its third year, the University of Texas at Austin TOWER Fellows Program welcomed seven new members during the fall semester joined by 10 returning fellows whose on-campus spring semester was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This unique educational format provides successful individuals with the opportunity to learn, explore, and discover at a world-class research university in an intergenerational atmosphere.

“Today, many people are looking for their next chapter and want to stay engaged in a purposeful way,” said Sally Brinker, TOWER Fellows Program Director. “Our program allows fellows to explore potential new paths meaningful to them and take advantage of the university’s resources in ways they hadn’t considered before. The possibilities are endless when you have the time and guidance to imagine and explore.”

The cohort is a diverse group including, entrepreneurs, corporate attorneys, philanthropists, and C-level executives. As a whole, the group presents a global perspective, having made homes across the U.S. and in four other countries — Australia, Spain, Chile, and Mexico.

The Tower Fellows program provides access to world-renowned professors, distinguished speakers, a personal faculty mentor, exclusive campus outings, and connection with the Austin community. Fellows have the opportunity to craft a personalized curriculum of courses and seminars, all while collaborating with peers. They also engage in the Austin community through involvement with groups like Mobile Loaves and Fishes getting a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of their Community First Village.

Though this cohort has adjusted to an online version, the complete array of the program has been offered throughout the fall semester. Joining with the university’s traditional student body, fellows have been taking online classes during the fall semester, ranging from Film History and Introduction to Screenwriting to U.S. Foreign Policy and Corporate Governance. The cohort has continued weekly exclusive programs designed to grow connections within the group and learn from dynamic distinguished guest speakers as well as events throughout campus.

“The key thing about this program is how flexible it is,” said 2020 Fellow Rex Bennett. “You can take whatever you want, and you can change things as you go. I feel starting virtually was actually a good thing for me. It allowed me to go into the shallow end of the university ‘pool’ rather than going off into the deep end. It’s been 45 years since I was a student.”

Another benefit of this year’s program is a third semester provided to both the 2019 and 2020 cohorts. This extra semester extension provides a unique opportunity for this year’s ‘underclassmen’ to engage with and learn from the experiences of the 2019 cohort. It also broadens and deepens the fellowship for both classes.

The distinguished speaker series, which offers topics ranging from politics and national security to media, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, has an added element this semester. Most campus events are currently virtual, allowing the fellows to engage in many extra discussions that professors throughout campus are conducting through online forums. Such discussions historically were difficult to attend due to seating limitations.

“Going into a classroom with twenty-somethings and being significantly older, I didn’t know if I would be intimidated or not,” added 2020 Fellow Christine Bray. “In the end, I’m not at all. It’s really fun, and I enjoy getting to interact with and gain a better understanding of young students.”

Those interested in joining the 2021 cohort are asked to visit the TOWER Fellows website for more information.

About the TOWER Fellows Program
The TOWER Fellows Program at The University of Texas at Austin provides individuals with highly accomplished backgrounds an opportunity to renew their passions at one of the nation’s leading research universities. TOWER Fellows enjoy an intergenerational education and a life-changing experience with the opportunity to personalize their curriculum through the guidance of a personal faculty mentor while learning from renowned professors. In addition, fellows enjoy a distinguished speakers series, exclusive campus outings, and opportunities to engage and interact with their cohort community and alumni, all in the beautifully unique surroundings of Austin, Texas, which is listed as a Best Place to Live in the United States according to U.S. News & World Report.

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