Every year, Rodeo Austin gathers many of the best and brightest students from across the state for a posed photo in front of the 35-foot bronze star outside of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.
More than just a fancy photo op, this is the Rodeo's documentation of the 40 or so smiling faces that represent the year's batch of well-deserving scholarship recipients who have gathered together for the annual Rodeo Austin Scholarship Awards Ceremony.
And there's a reason these young men and women are smiling as well. During this year's ceremony, whihc will be held Thursday evening at 6 p.m. on that revered lawn, Rodeo Austin is awarding a record $453,000 to these 44 future leaders and dreamers.
One of their predecessors, Katherine Layton, a third-year Human Development and Family Sciences student at The University of Texas, will be in attendance to share her experiences as a Rodeo Austin scholar with the incoming class of 2012.
After being awarded $8,000 in scholarships from Rodeo Austin, Layton went on to found a nonprofit organization called Gifts from US, which she devised in response to the devastating wildfires that affected her hometown of Bastrop, TX.
In 2011, Layton collected money, clothing and necessities alongside a number of partnering organizations for victims of the wildfire. This year, she held a giant garage sale to benefit the tornado victims in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Eventually, she plans to take the organization nationwide and make the "US" in the title stand for the entire United States.
Inspiring stories like Layton's have long been a tradition of the Rodeo Austin scholarship recipients, and a reason for the educational focus of Rodeo Austin and The Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, which contributes more than $2 million annually to the continued education of Texas youth.
The Rodeo Austin Scholarship Awards Ceremony begins Thursday, Aug 9 at 6 p.m. at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.