Life is meant to be shared and enjoyed

A friend sent this to me and I thought it was an important story…

This week, college basketball’s March Madness began. Sixty-eight teams began a single elimination tournament that will result in the crowning of a national champion on April 2nd in the Alamo Dome in San Antonio.

However, this message is not about the historic upset by UMBC of Virginia or the Cinderella Loyola of Chicago team but instead what happened in a game played in Iowa City, Iowa less than a month ago.

Jordan Bohannon is a sophomore guard on the University of Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team. He is an outstanding shooter and made over 90% of his free throws this year. But in a game in late February against Northwestern, he became a legend as he taught an important lesson of life.

Jordan went to the free throw line late in the contest to shoot a free throw. He had made 34 consecutive free throws and was tied for the all-time school record. One more made free throw and he would break the school record that had stood for over 25 years. What did he do?

He pointed to the ceiling of the arena and shot the ball.

He missed.

Intentionally.

Shortly thereafter, he was fouled again and calmly went to the free throw line and swished his next two free throws.

After the game, Bohannon was asked why he missed the free throw attempt. His answer, “That’s not my record to have. This record deserves to stay in his name.”

The person to whom he was referring to was Chris Street.

Street was a junior forward for the Hawkeyes. He was tragically killed in a car accident in January 1993, when his car collided with a snow plow in Iowa City. Street had made the last 34 free throws of his life.

The back story on Street is even more compelling. Street came to Iowa as only a fair shooter. But he worked hard to become much better and at the time of his death held the school’s consecutive free throw record. More importantly, Street was a special player. His enthusiasm, willingness to battle taller players, dives to the floor to recover a loose ball and hustle would lift the Hawkeyes to play at a higher level and the fans to appreciate his determination and contribution.

Street’s last game was against Duke, a team that had beaten Iowa in the preceding 2 years in the NCAA tournament. Playing in Duke’s gym, Duke won yet Iowa fought hard and his play and unwillingness to give an inch to the defending national champions was on full display. After the game, Duke’s Coach K told him “It was an honor to play against you”. Later, in the post-game interviews, Coach K said. “In the military, he was the kind of guy you’d want to lead you into battle. He was the leader you followed not just because of courage but because of intelligence. I’ll bet every coach he ever faced would say the same thing: I’d have loved to have coached him.”

Outside the Iowa locker room at Carver-Hawkeye Arena is a memorial to Street and each year the Chris Street award is given to the Hawkeye who best exemplifies his spirit and intensity. His Iowa jersey number 40 was retired in 1993 and hangs in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. On January 19, 2018, the Hawkeyes honored Street on the 25th anniversary of his death by draping a number 40 Iowa jersey over an empty chair on the floor at the Iowa basketball game. Next to the empty chair sat Tom Davis, Street’s head coach during his time at Iowa and his parents.

At the Northwestern game were Street’s parents, who came to support Bohannon and watch their son’s record be broken.

The intentional miss by Bohannon was his way of honoring Street and to ensure that Street’s name and legacy remained on the school record at Iowa.

What could have been going thru Bohannon’s mind as he stepped to the free throw line? One more made free throw and he would have the school record alone, his name etched in the history of the program. Who knows how many more free throws he could make and his record may last another 25 years.

But like all records, that record would be broken, and someone would remove his name and replace it with their own. However, with his act of humility, Jordan Bohannon did something that could never be taken from him and will be long remembered after all of the records in the Iowa record book have been broken.

Doing something for others just because you can leaves an impact. A perfect example was Jordan Bohannon’s selfless and humble way of honoring Chris Street.

It also reminds us of the importance of humility. What you say is important but what you do is what defines you.

 

In early March, I visited UT Austin’s Campus, where I spent 10 days teaching classes, meeting with students and faculty. I was highly impressed with the students I met. Their hard work and warm hearts were encouraging for me to experience and made me more optimistic about America’s future. Read on to understand what I took away and why you can be more optimistic, too.

An Inside Look at My Campus Experience

I teach these classes because I like sharing my experience with students so they understand you don’t have to be a business or engineering student to succeed. And I find it stimulating and learn new things from faculty and students during the fray that we are in.

I am very familiar with the subjects I teach so when a student asks a question that puts me off balance it is fun. The most interesting question thrown my way during my visit was from a student asking how he could be a positive force in the world of water environmental solutions. It was totally unexpected from a Liberal Arts student who has a double major in Chemical Engineering.

Mentoring students during my open office hours on non-profit strategies.  

I enjoy meeting with students for open office hours as well, where I provide one-on-one mentorship. I find having office hours, where a student can come in alone and ask questions without a crowd watching, to be quite a different experience than teaching. Virtually all of the students who wanted to talk about starting a non-profit were gifted and generally on target with what they had done and planned to do. It was a little difficult for me to listen to some of the questions or comments until I tried to relate to what I would have asked as a 1st or 2nd-year student… I wouldn’t have measured up for sure.

South Asia Institute

I also visited The South Asia Institute that is funded by the Marlene & Morton Meyerson Centennial Chair. We had lunch while I learned about the research being done by the Ph.D. candidates in the program. I couldn’t believe how many Udo speakers I came across. I tangentially knew some of the material, but when I discovered one student was studying Jain’s who become wealthy, I was intrigued. Another interesting project was a student studying non-binary and transgender sub-castes in Southern India.

 

Having lunch with Don Davis Jr., Director of The South Asia Institute.

 

Asian Study Ph.D. candidates share their research and ask questions.

The Most Innovative Project

The most innovative project I learned about was by a young woman from Houston whose parents were from Rajasthan (NW India) They started a non-profit, The MAHI Project, to help rural women in India with menstrual hygiene. These young, rural women generally don’t have any sex education, access to pads, or really understand the fundamentals of hygiene. Our family, a few years back, investigated a pad machine which could produce 1 pad for $.01 USD, and their family bought one of those machines. They went to Rajasthan to teach their lessons and how to operate the machine. It was a failure due to the complexity of the machine, but they persevered and tried again in Kerala in South India. This was successful, but the need there was less great. Now, they are going to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh over spring break to teach their lessons and how to operate the machine. Imagine you are a honors student at UT, and as a freshman, you try this project on for size.

Apricity Magazine

During one of my office hour sessions, I met with a Plan II Honors freshman who is an ambitious poet and student writer. She created and published Apricity Magazine. Apricity means warmth of the sun. The magazine is a collection of the best poetry and prose from around the world, as selected by her and a few staff peeps, plus a few poems of her own. The work to do this is stunningly huge. She and a tiny team produced 1 magazine with a run of only 70 copies. That was all they could afford to print at the time. She asked me how to expand the readership base and if a subscription model would make sense. I purchased two copies and encouraged her to do the subscription model. I hope everyone gets the chance to support this very talented writer in the future.

Signs of A Bright Future

Read the press, watch TV, hear podcasts, or even be a part of a conversation about higher education in the USA; with that insight, you could walk away shaken and depressed. When I read about some elite Universities not allowing speakers on campus who have a view different from a vocal student or faculty group, it depresses me.

Before I came to UT to teach last year, I wondered who I would meet in the student population. I was pleasantly surprised and happy that I met capable, reasonable, highly motivated students. I came away convinced that UT Austin had a reasonably centrist student body and a smart, capable faculty.

Discussing a student’s vision to one day run a non-profit of her own.

This year, I have an even stronger feeling about those first observations. I have met students whom I would hire in a flash if they were graduating. The stories I have heard about their academic track (so many 4.0 students) plus their concern and actions to help others left me breathless in awe. It is one thing to have a giant GPA, but to also have wide-ranging interests and volunteer to help others?

If these observations are correct (and I am confident they are) America will be ok. The extreme right and left may yell and scream but the students coming out of UT Austin are going to change the world for the better.

-Morton of Austin

A plaque on the front steps of UT Austin’s Tower.

**Stay up to date on my journey. Click here to follow me on twitter for real-time updates and insights.**

 

Jeremy Smith, ED of the Rainwater Foundation, drafted an Op-Ed piece for the Fort Worth newspaper originally to be jointly signed. I tweaked it some and it was submitted. It clearly states our joint position about giving students in Fort Worth public schools a chance for scholarship that when added to Pell grants etc should let them get a degree without debt. Rainwater Charitable Foundation and the David Nathan Meyerson Foundation are the joint sponsors with the Star Telegram as our partner providing in-kind marketing contributions. We strongly believe in the mission and I hope you will resonate with it as we do.

On an overcast Saturday this month, ten Fort Worth area high school students made their way to our downtown office to interview for a new four-year scholarship competition. A big part of the scholarship design from the outset was rooted in our belief that some students may not have the perfect high school “resume” but still have the potential to succeed in college because of their determination, which is a proxy for that personal quality that transcends even GPA to indicate that a student is going to make it. All of our finalists were strong students, but each persevered to achieve through circumstances that seemed impossible. We decided to create the Dream Big Fort Worth Determined Scholarship Award program because it has become more and more difficult for a child growing up in challenging circumstances to make it to and through college. New research indicates that economic mobility is on the decline in our nation. And while there are system-wide efforts underway to address educational inequities in our city, we felt the need to act now, even if only in a small way. This sense of urgency is not only driven by compassion, but also because our destinies are tied with the future of every child who grows up in our city. When our children reach their full potential we reap the benefits. When they don’t we pay the price. We wish each and every reader could have been with us during these interviews. We got a glimpse of the future, through the hopes and dreams of the finalists. The very real fates of these students’ friends, neighbors and family members, those who had not been able to get a good education and reach their full potential, is a stark reality. Our scholars clearly understood what was at stake for them and their entire family. And they, in turn, helped us understand what’s at stake for everyone in our community. Here’s what we took away from the day:

  • Our students are resilient. We’ve long believed that what happens to you is not as important as what happens inside you, and our 2017 Determined Scholars demonstrate that despite the very real effects of things like homelessness, abuse and extreme poverty, if given hope and opportunity, students will rise.
  • Whether or not we have school-aged children, we all have supporting roles to play. It was inspiring to hear how a guidance counselor or an employer went out of her way, or how a volunteer who spent a little extra time can have powerful positive effects on our students along the way. We will be deprived of our students’ full potential if we deprive them of ours.

These are gifts that will keep on giving. The ten scholarship finalists we interviewed had a variety of interests from art to engineering, but they all had something in common. Each of them was not only committed to their own learning but also committed to future professions where they would care for, inspire and lift up others.

Most important it’s clear that we need more opportunity. For every student we interviewed there are countless more like them. 400 students started the Determined Scholars process just in this inaugural year. Helping students who are working hard is addictive and we intend to do more. For more information about the Determined Scholars program see www.dreambigfortworth.org. Please consider donating so that we can expand the program to help more students.

Our 2017 Determined Scholars:

Mort sends his review of the movie Lion based on the non-fiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley:

The film Lion has gotten very good reviews. I gave it 5 stars. It is a moving and very well done piece with great acting.

If you have any interest in India…it is a must see.

If you love a true story about courage and complexity…it is a must see.

In short, go see it!

In late June, Mort and his granddaughter, Hannah, embarked on a DNMF philanthropy road trip around the Hudson Valley, visiting various nonprofits. On the second day, they visited The Sylvia Center’s: Katchkie Farm – an organization dedicated to educating low income youth about healthy lifestyles. The Sylvia Center focuses on exposing local inner city kids to healthy cooking by teaching them to plant, tend, and harvest plants that they can use in their own meals.

For lunch, Mort and Hannah were treated to a fresh salad and eggplant lasagna made only out of ingredients on the farm; Mort said the meal was “outer space good.”

They were blown away meeting the founders and learning about the mission of the Center. In Mort’s words, “they are simply amazing in what they do.”

To learn more about The Sylvia Center and Katchkie Farm, click here.

2016-05-03-New-Banner-at-4441

We have a new addition to our 4441 BV front entry.

From the National Geographic website, here’s the background story:

Japan Sunset paints the sacred Meoto Iwa (“wedded rocks”) in pastel hues. Bound by heavy rice-straw ropes, the two stacks off the coast of Futami—Izanagi (left) and Izanami—symbolize the Shinto deities said to have created Japan. (Photo: Davide Lena)

See the original here.

unnamedVíctor Hernández received The 2015 David Nathan Meyerson Prize for Fiction from the Southwest Review for his short story, “The Many Deaths of Zaragoza Matjeel,” which was published in Vol. 100, No 4, issued in the winter of 2015.

In addition to publication of the story in the Southwest Review, The David Nathan Meyerson Prize for Fiction includes a cash award, which is supported by Morton H. Meyerson and Marlene Nathan Meyerson in memory of their late son.

Víctor Hernández, who was born and grew up in Torreón, Mexico, is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. In 2012, during his first year at UT, Victor received the Prize in Ethics for an essay he submitted to The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. He was also the winner of the James F. Parker Prize for Fiction in 2013.

Morton invited Victor Hernandez to come to Dallas for a meeting with him in early 2016. Following their discussions of Victor’s plans for the future and the generalities of the meaning of life, Victor wrote the following essay about the experience. The essay follows in both English and Spanish. To read click here.

It is worth noting that Victor was so gracious and oblique in his request for support, that Morton was surprised by the title of the essay.  The two have since settled on friendship as the ultimate support.

We recently paired up with a great non-profit organization, VNA (Visiting Nurses Association), that helps our elderly neighbors maintain their independence by providing services that allow them to age where they are happiest and most comfortable – at home. Among the many programs offered, we had the opportunity to take part in the Meals on Wheels program in Dallas County.

Through this well-known program – Meals on Wheels – VNA delivers nutritious and freshly prepared hot meals to over 4,000 Dallas County residents. It was truly a humbling experience, to say the least, and we’re very grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of something special.

To bring comfort and happiness to our aging neighbors click here to get involved.

One of my friends in Israel, Ori Yardeni, is the creator of the Free2B innovative and interactive 3D programs for students. These sessions lead them to better decision making on topics such as bullying, alcohol, drugs, etc. There are 6 modules that are used in every public school in Israel. In October of 2015, Dallas had a pilot program with several schools and it was hugely successful. Our foundation is solidly behind expanding the programs with dates in 2016.

Click here to watch what the Mavericks produced for their media sponsorship.

Our values at 2M shape who we are individually and as a company. The Science of Character video explores the neuro and social sciences that make up who we are and who we want to be.

The website LET IT RiPPLE provides films and tools that help us understand our strengths and develop practices to create the best version of ourselves. Check out the video and explore the website and see how your own character traits align with ours at 2M.

DNMF sharing with Marlene’s Foundation gave money this summer for a “pay it forward” program to be used by a “foster” children program in LA. I have been out to the classes and was so impressed. The anonymous money is given in $200 increments for the foster kids to do something good for others on the theory that to help others helps yourself and give you some dignity. Here is what happens in LA  worth the 2 minutes:

We stopped in Amarillo for our first non-profit visit [on the DMNF Bozeman grant tour]. I have someone at the office from Amarillo and I have met his parents. I asked if they could come up with the best, most worthy group in Amarillo and so they did….. it was stunning. But to set the scene of the crime. In 1954 I was a Junior at Paschal and the starting lineman. We were a strong team and we ventured to Amarillo to play the Sandies. It was a cold, misty night and we lost by a small margin. I was devastated…. Here I was in Amarillo again. We visited Snack Pak 4 Kids.
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