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HPU Sumners Scholars attend Texas Tribune Festival

BROWNWOOD – December 10, 2018 – Eight Howard Payne University students in the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy recently attended the 2018 Texas Tribune Festival, held Sept. 27-29, as part of their membership in the Hatton W. Sumners Scholar Program.

The festival, of which the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation is a sponsor, is an event hosted by the Texas Tribune intended to allow attendees to learn about various areas of politics and policy, as well as issues affecting Texas and the United States.

Among the more than 300 speakers at the conference were former Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Representatives Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Christine Todd Whitman. During the three-day conference, sessions on domestic and international issues were held featuring speakers of divergent experiences.

“Events like the Texas Tribune Festival put our Sumners Scholars in front of leading politicians and policymakers on different sides of lots of different issues. They enjoy this unique access alongside equally civic-minded students from other institutions,” said Dr. Matthew McNiece, director of Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and associate professor of history and government. “This helps our Sumners Scholars more deeply engage in the world around them, which in turn helps better prepare them for a life of Christ-like service and good citizenship.”

The group of students who attended the conference included Jessica Catlett, a senior social work and Honors Academy major from Alleyton; Madelyn Deviney, a ¬¬senior accounting and Honors Academy major from Bulverde; Sidney Ganus, a sophomore English and Honors Academy major from Weatherford; Jordan Hahn, a junior social science: global studies, English and Honors Academy major from Burnet; Augusta Johnson, a senior social science: global studies, history and Honors Academy major from Gatesville; Tyler Olin, a senior social science: jurisprudence, psychology and Honors Academy major from Howe; Emma Reed, a senior family studies and Honors Academy major from Arlington; and Penny Stehlik, a junior social science: global studies and Honors Academy major from Round Rock.

“The Tribune Fest is great because you can choose what sessions to attend and really tailor the event to your interests, so that you can learn as much as possible,” Reed said. “You also often have the opportunity to meet accomplished individuals in their respective fields. For example, Jessica Catlett and I were able to meet a former department head in the Department of Health and Human Services.”

The Hatton W. Sumners Foundation is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase public understanding of the benefits of individual freedom and of civic and personal responsibility.

As members of the Sumners organization, HPU students also attend leadership seminars at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas and lectures hosted in conjunction with the Institute for Policy Innovation. Through the Academy’s partnership with the Sumners Foundation, student members are provided with a stipend issued during four semesters of their undergraduate studies.

“The Academy’s partnership with the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation provides access to a wide range of experiences and opportunities that our students wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Dr. McNiece.

Junior-level students in HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy are eligible for application for the Sumners program. For more information about the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation, the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and the other academic opportunities HPU offers, please visit

Applications are being accepted for the fall 2019 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Eight HPU students attended the 2018 Texas Tribune Fest as part of the Sumners Scholar Program. Pictured from left to right are Madelyn Deviney, Jordan Hahn, Jessica Catlett, Tyler Olin, Augusta Johnson (back row); Emma Reed, Sidney Ganus and Penny Stehlik (front row).