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(Since writing the above Miss Wright stood a civil service examination for clerk-draftsman and passed fourth highest in the United States.—COMPILER.)

Cheyenne, Wyo.


I entered the engineering department of the University of Texas as a freshman in the fall of 1892 at the age of seventeen. I graduated with the degree of C.E. in the summer of 1900, eight years later, having spent four years of that interval as a student at the University. With the exception of about $130, I bore all the expenses of my university education.

During my first year I lived with a relative and did chores about the house in return for my board and lodging. My total expenditure in money during this year, including two months’ preparation for entrance examinations, was about $130. The most rigid economy was necessary, of course, to keep expenses down to this amount.

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After the first year I was out of school four years, the chief reason therefore being lack of funds. These years (1893-1897), as will be recalled, covered a period of financial depression, especially 1893 and 1894. Being untrained in any trade or profession, I was obliged to be satisfied with whatever wages I could earn, and at times I was glad enough to make a living. A long spell of typhoid fever 195 kept me from work for six months, and my finances suffered a corresponding setback.

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I matriculated at the University again in the fall of 1897. During the session of ’97-‘98 I earned both my board and lodging by doing light chores and tending rooms occupied by boarders. My four years’ savings, aggregating $200, were sufficient to cover other expenses, close economy being practiced. The first part of this year was the most discouraging period of my university life. My outside duties were distasteful, not through discouragement, but by reason of continued contact with people who greatly underestimated their value. I had become unaccustomed to study, and I had reached the years when I felt that I should be earning an income somewhat different from higher education. But a tenacious nature prevailed, and after a few months it became clearer that I was on the right track.

During the vacation following my sophomore year I tried very hard to earn something toward the expenses of another year, but it was a dull season and work of any kind was difficult to find. Late in the summer I got a job, and in the three remaining weeks of vacation I earned a little more than enough to pay my fare to Austin.

I landed in Austin with $3.20, and without any plan whatever for meeting the expenses of further work in the University. But with confidence resulting from the optimism of youth, combined with the experience of previous years, I fully intended to 196 continue my university studies, and this I did. I visited the home where I had lived the year before, and the lady of the house kindly offered to let me work out my board until I could make permanent arrangements. I immediately wrote to a relative asking the loan of $50 with interest. Although I was unable to offer security for the loan, a check came promptly, and I was in a position to matriculate and purchase the necessary books. I then joined a student club and remained a member during the year, the cost of living in a club being less than in a regular boarding house. During the year a small business in handling student supplies netted a profit of perhaps fifty dollars. The club paid me a small price for chopping the stove wood, and this brought in a few dollars, although the work was done principally for exercise.

Early in April of that year I left the University to accept a position on a survey party at $35 a month and expenses. I owed at that time bills aggregating about $40, but these were paid by savings from my wages before the end of the session.

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At the beginning of the succeeding fall term I gave up my work with the survey party and returned to the University to complete my course of civil engineering. Permission was granted by the heads of the various schools to take up senior with the understanding that junior work omitted in the spring be made up during the year. The savings remaining from my summer’s wages amounted to a little 197 more than $100. I lived at low rate boarding houses this year, except two months when I worked for my board. My business in student supplies, this year on a larger scale, netted about $100. I also earned a small sum during the year by working a few hours each week in the office of an engineer in the city, the hours of work being arranged so as not to conflict with my lecture hours at the University. At the close of the session I had a few dollars left over. I graduated with the degree of Civil Engineer. Being fortunate enough to obtain at once a paying position, I was able within two months to pay back with interest the fifty dollars borrowed two years before. I could then follow my chosen line of work free of debt. In regard to the benefit derived from my connection with the University, it is always difficult to picture “what might have been”; and also one is apt not to realize all the advantages that have come to him as the result of higher education. In my own case I know that my university training was well worth the time, labor, and sacrifice that it cost; for it equipped me for entrance into a remunerative vocation, and through the knowledge and training acquired in the four years’ course I was able successfully to complete a civil service examination for an appointment in the technical branch of the Federal service immediately upon graduation. Advancement and corresponding growth of income have followed, accompanied by the advantages of extensive travel. Furthermore, in my own case, which 198 doubtless is typical, the years devoted to higher studies stimulated ambition and developed a self-confidence; otherwise, these qualities probably would have been wanting to prompt and sustain an effort to make the best use of my natural powers. Not the least benefit derived from a few years spent as a student at the University is the social pleasure and practical assistance afforded by the mutual interest of ex-students, many of whom are now filling prominent and responsible positions.

During the last two years of my university work when tempted to quit, or when “practical” persons suggested that I was prolonging my school days late into life, or that I “knew enough already,” I strengthened my purpose and met those arguments by the answer that while out of the University I made little more than a poor living, whereas in it I not only made a better living, but was acquiring valuable education as well. During my struggles with financial problems when at the University, I always received from my officers and faculty of the University practical assistance, and this without doubt will be the experience of any other student similarly situated.

That no young man or young woman of receptive mind, who possesses the requisite physical and mental strength and has the necessary ambition and determination, need be deprived of the advantages of a university education by reason of financial limitations, has been repeatedly demonstrated in the 199 past. I fully believe that the result in every case is worth the effort; but the unavoidable outside duties and the cramped finances narrow the horizon of self-supporting students. I would, therefore, offer to students the suggestion that they guard as much as possible against narrowness in the acquisition of their education and in their university life, and that they endeavor to correct in their subsequent life after graduation any such resulting defect.—The University of Texas Bulletin.



I am writing this piece of personal history, not because it contains any great amount of interest for people in general, but because it may be an inspiration for some young woman who may chance to read it—and she may be induced to step out and try a similar plan for herself. Therefore, prosaic though it be, it will be, nevertheless, a true story from first to last.

I was born and grew up like many another healthy youngster, with no marked precocity. Because there were no good schools near by, the children of the family were taken to a village in the county, and placed in what was then the best private school in that part of the State. I was then eight years of age, and this trip of sixteen miles in wagons across the snow one January day was my first glimpse of the outside world. I recall vividly now the impressions that came to me that first night and during the first days. There were in the family two older sisters and a brother, and four or five cousins and half-uncles. I had heard them discuss the wonders of this new world before we made the move. We had 201 a play-house in the barn. It was in this barn that the marvelous stories were told, and plans were made for what we meant to do and to be when once we were there. I remember that I would dig my toes in the ground, standing ready to swing, but listening open-eyed, and then let myself go high in the air, dreaming of the great future. So, the village, quaint and quiet, except for the school, was to my youthful imagination a part of Paradise.