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Q&A: For Keiko and DeVry Anderson, Giving Back Is a Way of Life

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image of the andersonsMeet Keiko and DeVry Anderson, two members of the Longhorn family who are proud to support education and community service programs within the DDCE.

Alma Maters: Keiko (BSW ’99, J.D. ’03), DeVry U.S. Military Academy at West Point (B.S. Chemistry, ’96) and the Thomas Jefferson Medical College (M.D., ’00)

Occupations: Keiko is a Litigation lawyer who specializes in family law. DeVry is a Lt. Col in the U.S. Army and a physician.

Quote to Live By: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”—Winston Churchill

Which programs in the DDCE are you supporting?

Keiko–We are supporting the UT-University Charter School and the Fearless Leadership Institute along with The Project. The FLI program is important to our family because we are people of color and I believe that as a woman of color there are certain issues of life specific to this subset of society that need to be addressed in order to help equip them for success. I think this initiative will make a significant difference in the lives of these young women for the better. The University Charter School serves special-needs students who are unable to participate in a traditional school setting. Our family values learning in non-traditional as well as traditional ways. Education is too important to limit to those who are fortunate enough to be able to receive it through traditional venues. It is important to us that people who are victims of domestic abuse, or in group homes, or foster homes, etc. have access to educational resources at the highest level possible. Giving to this effort is critical in our opinion to help set these young people up for success.

What value does The Project bring to students and the community?

Keiko–Our interest in The Project is connected to our interest in seeking ways to improve specific communities which in turn improves the city as a whole. The Project is a positive massive movement of diverse people coming together for a unified purpose to enhance the quality of lives and the quality of living… one community at a time. You can’t help but be excited about something as significant and life changing as that! This event brings a level of awareness on many fronts both to the students and the community at the same time. It gives the students and other volunteers an opportunity to engage and learn about areas where they may otherwise never be and also gives them the opportunity to contribute their time and talents in ways that result in permanent and lasting improvements in those communities. At the same time those in the community benefit from the work done to enhance the area and also learn more about the spirit of unity that UT brings to Austin and that we mean what we say when we say “What starts here changes the world!”

DeVry– I think The Project brought great value to all involved for multiple reasons. I was originally drawn to The Project by an invitation from my wife after talking with other UT alumni about ongoing activities at the University. Seeing so many young people gathered together utilizing their own free time to give back to their community as a collective group was nothing short of awe inspiring. Such a gathering teaches young men and women of the next generation wonderful lessons about things like teamwork, service, sacrifice, dedication, fellowship and pride in one’s individual and shared habitat. The Project also allows the university to gain positive long-lasting visibility in the neighborhoods and communities that comprise the city of Austin. Volunteering in The Project demonstrates to young students that community service leaves lasting positive impressions on the world around us.

How do you personally benefit from giving back to UT and the community?

Keiko–On every occasion that I give to UT, I walk away having received so much more. Being able to help further all of the great causes that UT has implemented brings me great joy and I am comforted knowing that the resources I provide to the school are being used in ways that can be immediately seen and appreciated. Giving back to UT and the community has made me more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses and my own biases and stereotypes, and that awareness helps me be better equipped to adjust and recalibrate my thoughts to become a better person who is more informed and understanding of people from diverse backgrounds. I have personally benefited as well by connecting with so many great people with a heart for service that have become dear friends. Winston Churchill said “We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.” So, in short, giving back to the community and giving back to Texas gives me life!

DeVry– I am deeply honored and humbled to be considered connected to the University of Texas (even though I’m merely married into the family). The incredibly rich heritage of UT symbolized by the Longhorn has become a brand in and of itself that is synonymous with excellence in every regard. But more than being merely associated with greatness, connection with the University of Texas allows me to contribute whatever gifts or abilities I have to the ongoing good works that UT and Texas alumni are doing in the moment. By contributing to world-changing efforts via my connection with UT, or via enhancing the educational experience of present UT students, I can not only be associated with greatness, but I am afforded the opportunity to be an active part of producing greatness. And for that, I am thankful. HOOK ‘EM HORNS!

What is your favorite UT memory?

Keiko– I have so many fond memories of UT, but my favorite has to be years ago when I planned my first Texas mommy-daughter date when Camille was in elementary school. I took her back to the campus where I transitioned from a young girl to a woman. We walked together through the halls of Jester where I lived when I was 17 years old. We went throughout the Forty Acres, and we marched to the stadium with the crowds for an epic UT home football game together. That day I taught her our school song and cheers and showed her everything I loved about my alma mater. She absorbed all that I exposed her to including two important lessons: We bleed orange AND girls love Texas football too!

This is one of my favorite memories because my daughter learned that even beyond the power we had to break simple barriers like football fan gender stereotypes. More importantly, at the University of Texas we have the power to break any barriers in order to become whatever our hearts desire regardless of stereotypes or limits that others try to create.

DeVry–My favorite UT memory would have to be related to speaking to the UT football team during chapel the week prior to one of their games last season. It was both a privilege and an honor to be invited by Coach Moorer, with Coach Strong’s approval, to talk to the young men on the team about personal courage and how it relates to overall organizational commitment to their teammates and to the university. We spoke of things like honor and perseverance. I remember encountering one particular student from the team after the season and listening to him expound to others on how the tenants he employed in the game after listening to me speak that day would also serve him well in his post-graduate life and professional career. And yes, they beat OU!

Why is it important for you to stay connected to your alma mater?

Keiko– It is important to give back to the school because the school gave so much to me. All that I have become is largely due to opportunities provided to me through UT. I went to Texas, both undergrad and law school, with full academic scholarships that the school invested for my future; and my staying connected and giving back to UT is simply the return on its investment and it is well deserved.

DeVry– I think it is important to stay connected to your alma mater because such connections allow us to both give back and to be reminded of and rekindle by the fire and idealism of our roots. As a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, my identity as an officer and a leader have been forever molded by the rudiments of the academy and the Long Grey Line I was grafted into. Likewise, graduates of the University of Texas are a part of a deep and rich tradition of world changers who began their journey by becoming a Longhorn. Staying connected gives alumni the opportunity to give back to future Texas graduates and to contribute to their future success. It also allows alumni to be a relevant part of the great things that young Longhorns and the university itself are doing presently.

Photo by Bret Brookshire