The Place We Call Home

Posted by Taylor Kyes and Kannan Sharma

The Eugene McDermott Scholars Program is a cohort-driven family consisting of around 80 scholars who grow as servant leaders, are supported by five incredible staff members, and are dedicated to promoting the legacy of the late Margaret and Eugene McDermott.

Last month, we, Kannan Sharma ’18 and Taylor Kyes ’17, had the opportunity to represent the Eugene McDermott Scholars at the Scholar Summit for the Undergraduate Scholars Program Administrators Association (USPAA). There, we interacted with scholars from 23 different scholars’ programs across the United States. Through meeting scholars from amazing institutions, including Georgia Tech, UNC Chapel Hill, and Clemson University, we learned about many different programs and gained a great deal of renewed respect, admiration, and appreciation for the place we call home.


Over the course of three days, we talked with other scholars about unique aspects of their programs, how they are run, and what lies at the core of their scholarships. It was so wonderful to get to see so many amazing things reflected in these programs around the U.S., and we wanted to share what makes our program so unique!

  • We are a cohort-based family. From the first moment that you become a McDermott Scholar, you are welcomed into a lifelong family of love, support, and fulfillment. From Game of Thrones watch parties to annual McFamily cookie decorating parties, each cohort and person has a unique sense of belonging. We are surrounded by our best friends who push and support us throughout our four years of college and beyond (and make sweet secret handshakes that will last for a lifetime). This sense of family does not just come from your individual cohort. It is reflected and reciprocated throughout the generations of McDermotts that have come before us and those that will come after. Our alumni mentor us, help cultivate our passions, and challenge us to intense game nights. We are family through and through.
  • We are supported by five incredible staff members. These five staff members lead our program, support us through our days regardless of their working hours, and are passionate about creating the best environment for us in which we will thrive. They push us to become the best in our fields and inspire us to enjoy the little things in life. Their doors are always open (literally always) and they welcome us with open arms whether we want to talk about our futures or debate about the newest Marvel movie.
  • We are dedicated to promoting the legacy of the late Margaret and Eugene McDermott. We are beyond blessed to have the amazing opportunities provided to us because of the generous gifts from the McDermott family. We have the opportunities to study abroad and broaden our horizons, from summers in Vienna to semesters in Seoul. We are inspired, by the worldly attitudes of the McDermotts, to learn from other cultures and approach the world with open minds. Our focus on professional development allows us to find where our passions intersect with what the world needs and how we can best serve our community. From attending conferences in Boston to spending summers preparing for graduate school to interning for Microsoft, we become better prepared to take on the world. Cultural activities teach us to value the arts as Margaret and Eugene once did. Our appreciation for the arts can be seen in Performing Arts minors, trips to the Dallas Museum of Art, or excursions to operas like Carmen or plays like A Christmas Carol. Regardless of our interests, we get to spend our time pursuing our passions because of the McDermott family.

Spending 72 hours with student scholars from around the U.S. opened our eyes to incredible new ideas and allowed us to create new friendships, but there is nothing like coming back to our caring family, our amazing staff, and the incredible opportunities in the McDermott Program, a place that we will always call home.

Representatives from the University of Texas (40 Acres), University of Texas at San Antonio (Top Scholars), and University of Texas at Dallas (McDermott Scholars)

Taylor Kyes (2017) and Kannan Sharma (2018)


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