Yesterday it was with great pride that I established the William K. Berenson Endowed Scholarship at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
I wanted to express gratitude to those who have made my career possible. I received my degree from SMU Law in 1979. Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, the perfect day to make my donation, and I just celebrated my 63rd birthday on Thanksgiving.
I did not receive any scholarships to SMU (only a few were available) and worked at part-time jobs all three years, sometimes without a car. Law school was a struggle.
After graduation, I moved to Fort Worth to work for a large law firm. However I enjoyed helping individuals more than representing corporations and insurance companies. I opened my law office several years later and decided to specialize in personal injury law.
Over the past 37 years, I have tried to make a difference in the community. I have supported young students by adopting and mentoring a school in the Fort Worth Independent School District for many years. I have spoken at countless Career Days at the Rufino Mendoza Elementary School and make “my kids” pledge to graduate from high school with the best grades possible. I also urge them to attend college, hold up my diploma from the University of Texas, and let them hold it and tell them they can earn a diploma too. I also suggest that they begin thinking about going to law school, medical school, or wherever their ambition leads them.
I have also donated 20 grants to encourage Hispanic students to stay in school and go to a university through the Mexican American College Endowment.With yesterday’s gift, I am completing the third leg of my goal of helping Fort Worth students succeed by providing them with the opportunity to attend an excellent law school.
Only students who have studied in a Fort Worth school or university will be eligible for the funds. This is apparently the first endowed scholarship from a Fort Worth alumnus of SMU Law and one of the few from a solo practitioner.
SMU Law will alert college placement offices in the city and at other universities in Texas where Fort Worth students are studying about the existence of this fund and flag applications that meet these criteria.
Education is obviously one of the biggest keys to success but unfortunately too many young people are unable to afford its high cost. Teenagers often don’t have the guidance or financial resources to consider, let alone afford, advanced degrees in law, medicine, technology, or science.
I will continue to contribute to the endowment and it will grow larger.
I am also grateful that SMU gave my daughter a full academic scholarship for college and additional funds for her to obtain her masters degree in accounting. Marissa is a Certified Public Accountant happily working for a well-known corporation in Dallas.
I am blessed that my practice has been successful and am delighted to be in a position to give back to SMU and to Fort Worth.