For Rachel Simon, vice president for Finance Shared Services at AT&T Inc., and her husband, Dr. Jason Simon (’11 Ph.D.), UNT associate vice provost for institutional research and effectiveness, giving back to support education is a way of life. The couple support scholarships at their alma maters — all four of them — and encourage a spirit of philanthropy in their young children, Abigail and Ethan.
So, when Rachel’s mother, a special education teacher and marriage and family therapist, passed away in February 2014, she knew she wanted to do something that would help students in both education and counseling, two areas in which her mother had flourished. The master’s counseling program in the UNT College of Education was the perfect fit for the Marcy Golden Memorial Scholarship.
“My mom was the best listener in the world, and I can just imagine how many people she’s helped over the years,” Rachel said. “Starting this scholarship is a great way to help someone get their education while also honoring our family.”
The Simons made a $25,000 gift to endow the scholarship, meaning the first recipients will be named as soon as this fall. They are also building an endowment for the Susan Simon Higher Education Doctoral Student Scholarship at UNT, in honor of Jason’s mother. Rachel said the endowment is made possible not only through their contributions, but also through the AT&T Corporate Match program and the generous president's match for which Jason's gifts are eligible during UNT's We Care We Count campaign every April.
“Giving to UNT is wonderful because, since we live nearby, we can go every year to the campus and meet the students,” Rachel said. “We’re always impressed by the caliber of students. They’re very ideological, and I hope they don’t lose that. They want to make the world a better place.”
Even as a child, Rachel dreamed of working in an office. In fact, she saved her allowance not to buy toys and candy but to buy her very own inbox tray. She keeps it on her desk now as a reminder that she is living her dream, working as an executive at one of the largest companies in the world. Now, through her family’s gifts to higher education, she’s helping the next generation of leaders find success.
“I got my foot in the door because of my education, and I’ve been the beneficiary of many teachers who cared and wanted to make a difference,” she said. “So it’s important for us to help young people who want to learn. I hope that they pay it forward by becoming engaged teachers and advocates for their students.”