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Why We Give: Brian '96 and Sonja (Couch) Bessent '97

By Brian Bessent

Bessent FamilyWe met at Hardin-Simmons when Sonja was a freshman and I was a sophomore. We became engaged when she was a senior and I was in grad school. Hardin-Simmons has been a major part of our lives since the beginning of our relationship. We started our life together there, and we continue to be actively involved. We take our children with us to events on campus. Living in Abilene, we really don't know life as a family without HSU. Our kids are already talking about going to HSU one day.

I was very blessed to receive the Board of Young Associates (BYA) scholarship my senior year. I still remember attending a lunch with Greg Solomon and Phil Wilson, two BYA members at the time. It was then that I realized someone gave to help me, so I needed to do the same for others in the future.

We started making small monthly gifts to Hardin-Simmons in 1999 when I joined the BYA. We couldn't give much — and now with four kids, we still can't give as much as we want — but we want to do what we can for the university that we both love so much.

With a large family, it will be a long time before we can give generously to HSU. Several years ago, we put the university in our wills. It feels good to know we've already taken care of the largest gift we'll ever make.

Sonja has served on the Alumni Board, and I was blessed to be on the BYA, the Academic Foundation, and now the Board of Development. Because of our involvement, we really see how our giving makes a difference. It's especially rewarding to meet students who receive scholarships we support, and to hear their stories of what those scholarships mean to them. There are so many kids coming to HSU these days who need all the help they can get.

The boards talk a lot about the importance of the percentage of alumni who give. While that isn't our motivation for giving, it is good to know that we're making a difference in more ways than one with our giving.

So much of who we both are today is because of Hardin-Simmons. To us, it just wouldn't be right not to give to HSU — in the present, and in the future.

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