Southwestern University is now home to a pair of 2024 Sumners Scholars. Andrea (Andie) Abell ’26, a political science major from Dallas, and Fernando Cruz-Rivera ’26, a political science and philosophy double major from Pflugerville, have each earned 2024 Sumners Scholarships, which provide $30,000 awarded over their junior and senior years of undergraduate study.

The scholarships are awarded by The Sumners Foundation and are based on civic engagement, academic excellence, a capacity for leadership, and a desire to further our democracy. Abell and Cruz-Rivera are two of just 45 students nationally to receive a Sumners scholarship in 2024.

Andie Abell '26 Andie Abell ’26

“The Sumners Scholarship program has been at the core of the Sumners Foundation’s purpose since shortly after its inception in 1949,” The Sumners Foundation Board Chairman Lon Williams said. “Our Scholars are selected from the very best students at colleges and universities after a rigorous interview process. To be selected as a Sumners Scholar is an honor that will remain with the Scholar throughout his or her lifetime.”

Fernando Cruz-Rivera '26 Fernando Cruz-Rivera ’26Sumners Scholar alumni include such notables as U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, Senior Deputy Attorney General of Oklahoma Dara Derryberry, Chairman of Matador Resources Joe Foran, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court Nathan Hecht, President of the University of Texas at Arlington Jennifer Cowley, and past Chancellor of the New Mexico Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church Charles L. Moore.

“Over the decades, Sumners Scholars have made significant contributions to their communities, their states, and America,” Williams said. “Following in the footsteps of Congressman Hatton W. Sumners, the Foundation is pleased to support students striving to: improve our political system, address societal challenges through crafting public policies based upon the fundamental principles of American democracy, educate all Americans about their civic obligations as citizens, and be active, productive members of our Republic.”

Southwestern has a long and successful history with the Sumners Scholarship. Ongoing collaboration among SU’s fellowship advisor and Senior Associate Director of the Center for Career & Professional Development Alexandra Anderson, faculty champions in departments such as political science, history, and education, SU Sumners Scholar alumni, and current Scholars themselves, has been instrumental in helping Southwestern students succeed in the competition.

Gerald Jones ’25, current Sumners Scholar, helped lead this year’s scholarship information session. He and fellow Scholars Mara Stroll ’25 and Jinx Wiener ’25 also provided one-on-one advice to this year’s applicants.

The Sumners Foundation also invited Southwestern to pilot a Sumners Scholar mentor program in 2023–2024. Organized by Anderson, the program featured seven SU alumni of the scholarship program serving as networking mentors: Grace Atkins ’16, Colin Berr ’13, Natalie DeCesare ’19, J.D, Sarah Gould-Stotts ’10, Hunter Jurgens ’13, J.D., Elizabeth Knox ’08, J.D., and, Danyale Kellogg ’19, Master of International Affairs.

Berr, an entrepreneur who founded Mentor Lane in Germany, led the initial group training and orientation for the program in September, and each current Scholar met with a different alumni mentor for four additional conversations throughout the year.

These SU Sumners alumni continue to make their mark. Jurgens just completed his law degree at the University of Oregon. Gould-Stotts founded her own business. DeCesare founded a mentoring program at her alma mater, St. Mary’s University School of Law. Knox graduated from Harvard Law School and now serves as Of Counsel for a firm in San Antonio. Atkins served as Chief of Staff for a Texas State Representative before becoming the State Legislative Affairs Liaison at the Texas Department of Transportation. Kellogg is Ph.D. candidate in biodefense at George Mason University and current Boren Fellow, a nationally competitive graduate fellowship sponsored by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO).