Monday, August 06, 2018

UTSA alumni honor their mothers with new scholarship

UTSA alumni honor their mothers with new scholarship

Steve and Tami Griffin

(Jan. 2, 2017) -- How do you honor someone special? For San Antonio couple Steve Griffin '92, M.S. '93 and Tami Griffin '94, they decided that a scholarship to help others at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) would best honor their mothers.

"Both of our mothers believed strongly in giving back, so I think they would be very happy about this scholarship," said Tami, a counselor at Northside ISD, who along with her husband established the Betty Lou Griffin and Bertha Rae Damon Endowment for Education.

The decision to establish the scholarship came after the passing of Steve's mother Betty Lou and Tami's mother Bertha. Both mothers dedicated their lives to helping others and believed strongly in the value of an education.

The scholarship will soon be awarded to graduate students enrolled in the Urban School Leadership Collaborative at UTSA. A partnership between area school districts and the university, the USLC is a unique program that prepares educational leaders to work effectively in low-income neighborhoods, specifically Title I school districts.

"The more you know doesn't guarantee you that you'll make more money, but it does guarantee you more opportunities," said Steve, an engineer, who once taught courses at UTSA.

The only daughter of four, the late Betty Lou Griffin grew up on a small farm in Winters, Texas. After earning her bachelor's degree in education, she began teaching in San Angelo before making her way to Edgewood ISD, where she would retire after more than 25 years of service. Married to Frank Griffin, who also taught in Edgewood at John F. Kennedy High School, Betty Lou was always a believer in higher education. She was in her mid-30s when she enrolled in courses at UTSA, eventually earning her master's degree and becoming one of the early graduates of the university.

Tami's mother, the late Bertha Rae Damon, was a real life "Rosie the Riveter" who grew up in Ohio and worked in a factory during World War II. She met and married Vernon "Pop" Victor Damon who later retired from the Air Force as a Tech Sergeant. Bertha was a supportive military spouse accompanying her husband to various posts across the globe, raising four children and eventually settling in San Antonio.

The Griffins, who first met in high school, have also generously supported other programs on campus, like the Alumni Association and the Griffin Thermal and Fluid Laboratory in the College of Engineering. With the scholarship, they hope to share their mothers' passions for education while helping today's educators further their academic careers in the hopes of engaging students to do the same.

"There are a lot of great teachers who would love to get a master's degree but just can't afford it," said Steve. "With this scholarship we hope it will enable them to focus more on their job as opposed to other distractions like, 'how am I going to pay for college.'"

- Yvonne Zamora Byrd


To learn more about giving to UTSA, visit

Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn.