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UTSA, Carter family establishes the Laura Carter Memorial Fellowship

Left-to-right: Laura Carter, J’Ann Rodriguez-Carter

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(July 10, 2015) -- Rachel Weber, a master’s student in the College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Counseling, is the first recipient of the Laura Carter Memorial Fellowship. The newly established fellowship awards $2,500 annually to a student in the UTSA Counseling Program.

“Our department lost a valued member of our community and this fellowship is a wonderful way to honor Laura Carter,” said Heather Trepal, associate professor in the Department of Counseling. “She was known to many in the department for her outspoken spirit and her humor. She is greatly missed. Through this fellowship, we are able to celebrate her life and memory.”

With the scholarship money, Weber will be able to continue her studies in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program in order to graduate in May of 2016.

“I feel so much gratitude towards the Carter family for this opportunity,” said Weber. “This fellowship will help with my academic expenses in my last semesters of graduate school. This will help a great deal in my ability to focus on school and helping others instead of worrying about money.”

The Laura Carter Memorial Fellowship was established in June by James Carter and J’Ann Rodriguez-Carter in honor of their daughter Laura Carter. Laura was a student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program before her death in January.

“The fellowship would work to help a fellow student in pursuit of the same goal as Laura's, a master’s in counseling,” said Rodriguez-Carter. “If she couldn’t get there, someone else could with help from her, as this would, in effect, be her inheritance.”

Carter and Rodriguez-Carter were inspired to establish the fellowship at the suggestion of a family friend. Their hope is that this fellowship will help keep Laura’s memory alive.

“I heard recently someone describe death as one, when the heart stops beating; two, when a person is cremated or buried; and three, when someone’s name is spoken for the last time,” said Rodriguez-Carter. “With an endowed fellowship, hopefully number three will never be reached, fulfilling our dream of keeping her alive in a way that we can.”

The family’s intent, Rodriguez-Carter said, is to transform the fellowship into an endowment with the help of donations from friends, family, and the community, much like the one she received while attending nursing school.

“I once had received the Mary Margaret Moran Scholarship while in the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio’s School of Nursing,” said Rodriguez-Carter. “It was established by her father in 1976 after his daughter, a nurse who was working in a San Antonio hospital, was killed in 1975. It was a very strange feeling I had realizing that now Laura’s father and I, too, would be helping students pursue the path our daughter walked.”

The Laura Carter Memorial Fellowship is the first of its kind in the Department of Counseling and aims to provide annual fellowships to students enrolled in the department.

“I want to use this fellowship as inspiration to help those who are grieving from loss of a family member,” said Weber. “This is a specialty that I have a passion for. I remember Laura as an outgoing and passionate individual. She was one of the first people to volunteer in class and always contributed. She brought a positive atmosphere to class. I hope that by receiving this fellowship, I can do my best to honor her memory. I will hold Laura and her family in my mind as I help others.”

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To donate, visit the UTSA Giving Website.

For learn more about the fellowship, visit the Laura Carter Memorial Fellowship webpage.

This story was republished with permission from COEHDNews. Visit education.utsa.edu/news for more.

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