Two students recognized for leadership, excellence on campus
by Susie P. Gonzalez
Two Trinity University juniors, Faith Deckard and Alexandra “Sasha” Faust, have been selected to receive the Ed Whitacre Leadership Scholarship from the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
They are the first Trinity students to receive the $10,000 scholarship named in honor of the longtime chairman and CEO of Southwestern Bell (SBC) who also led the company when it became AT&T. Whitacre also was tapped to serve as the CEO of General Motors as it was emerging from bankruptcy in 2009.
Whitacre is considered a San Antonio business giant who has been described as “an American icon whose life is a testimony to hard work and the American dream. A larger-than-life legend, Ed Whitacre is John Wayne in a business suit.”
Deckard ’18 is a biology major and Spanish minor from Nacogdoches, Texas. She is a McNair Scholar, a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership society, and a peer tutor and researcher in biology professor Michele Johnson's evolutionary lab.
“Words cannot fully express what winning this award means to me,” Deckard said. “Education has been and continues to be my avenue to a better life and larger platform to serve others.”
She credited several programs and individuals for helping her excel and said she likes to “take advantage of every opportunity to pay it forward and help someone else. To be awarded for my small efforts and contributions is absolutely amazing.”
After graduating, Deckard plans to pursue a doctorate in sociology with a concentration on the relationship between mental health, drug abuse, and imprisonment. “I cannot think of a more pressing issue and topic that necessitates our attention,” she said.
Faust ’18 is a human communication major from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a member of the Trinity debate team and is president of the Trinity Forensics Society, a student speech and debate club. She also conducted research as part of the Mellon Initiative on the color blue and how it connected to a painful family history. Also on campus, Faust is a tour guide and Trinity Distinguished Representative for the Admissions Office, is active in Trinity theater productions, vice president of the Philosophy Club, and vice chair of the Board of Campus Publications.
“I am grateful and honored to receive the Ed Whitacre scholarship,” Faust said. “This scholarship represents an investment in my future, which not only affirms my past decisions but also provides the financial support for me to take risks and get even more involved in my interests as I head into my final year at Trinity.”
Faust said receiving the scholarship alongside Deckard, whom she described as “powerful and brilliant,” was particularly special because they were in a first-year seminar in their first semester on campus. “Faith and I occupy and excel in very different spheres at Trinity so I think the committee granting us both this award powerfully recognizes that leadership comes in many shapes and forms.”
Whitacre earned a degree in industrial engineering a Texas Tech and went on to hold 21 positions at Southwestern Bell before being named CEO in 1990. He guided SBC through an era of expansion that led to a series of mergers and acquisitions that dramatically changed the telecommunications industry. The company acquired the AT&T Corp. and adopted its brand. He retired in 2007 after 44 years with the company. Two years later, Whitacre was asked to transform General Motors from bankruptcy to a strong, profitable company.
Apart from his corporate experience, Whitacre has been active as a Texas Tech alumnus and in 2008, the engineering school was renamed the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering. He also chaired the 1998 United Way Campaign for San Antonio and Bexar County and received the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s Pathfinder Award, which led to the leadership scholarships with an initial grant from the General Motors Foundation.
Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations, can be reached at susie.gonzalez [at] trinity.edu or @susiegonz