SAN BENITO — When Michael D. Thomas, 17, was asked to stay after school one day, he received the surprise of a lifetime.
Dec. 6, Michael was awarded the University of Texas at Austin’s Office of Admission’s $48,000 “Impact” Scholarship and a $48,000 scholarship from the Cockrell School of Engineering.
Combined, Michael received $96,000 worth of scholarships.
According to San Benito CISD personnel, this is the largest scholarship amount any San Benito High School student has received from the university.
From studying for finals to completing assignments on the computer in the library, Higher Education Coordinator Alex Salinas said Michael’s dedication and commitment to his studies stand out.
“The entire administration and school board, we are so proud of Mr. Thomas for receiving these scholarships,” Salinas said. “We know the type of caliber of students we have at San Benito High School so that reflects what the gold standard is all about here.”
In fall of 2020, Michael will be starting his first semester at UT where he plans to study chemical engineering with a pre-med track.
Here is what he had to say about his accomplishments.
VMS: Why do you want to study chemical engineering?
Michael: I chose it because it’s a challenge and I love challenges. I’m the type of person that likes to do everything with a disciplinary approach. There’s a misconception that you have to major in science to go to medical school, but you can major in anything. I specifically want to become a chemical engineer because of the application it could have to the medical field. The two professions really help each other in a way.
VMS: What inspired you to get involved in so many extracurricular activities?
Michael: I’ve always been a person who enjoys the interdisciplinary approach to life. Some people recommend doing one thing if you’re good at it, but I believe that can make people miss out on lots of opportunities for growth and improvement. The main thing I believe in is that you learn from the experience.
VMS: Is there someone or something you feel has been inspiring you to accomplish all of this?
Michael: It would be my mom. She’s a single parent. She taught me to always have confidence in myself and she also gave me a good foundation to gain intangible qualities. She’s been really involved in my life and I’m glad I can give back to her.
VMS: Is there anything you would like to say that I haven’t asked?
Michael: I think it’s very important for young students to find their passion early and have a plan. Learn how you can better prepare yourself for the career you want. I believe everyone has the potential to do great things. It doesn’t matter where you come from. What matters is what you do.
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
• National AP Scholar
• Current valedictorian
• Part-time employee at Subway
• Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts of America
• President of Rho Kappa National Honor Society
• Vice-president of Mu Alpha Theta National Honor Society
• Vice-president of Science National Honor Society
• Treasurer of Health Occupational Students of America (HOSA)
• Career and Technical Education (CTE) Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Program