Tyler ISD alumnus starts scholarship fund for students in memory of impactful counselor

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 4:31 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Jerry Palmer is a graduate of John Tyler High School. During his time at school he had a pivotal conversation with a school counselor that changed everything that would happen next for him.

“I was in a vocational program training to become a diesel truck mechanic when I graduated. But in the spring of my junior year of high school, Ben Brown, the high school counselor, came to my classroom and asked the teacher if he could see me in the hallway,” he said.

Palmer was not sure if he was in trouble or what the conversation would be about. Turns out Brown was helping the junior make plans for after graduation.

“He said, ‘you really oughta think about being a doctor or a lawyer or engineer.’ I said, ‘you know, I’m not going to do any of those things.’ He said, ‘well you should,’” Palmer said. “So I said I’m not gonna be a doctor or engineer but tell me about law. He said you know what you ought to do is call some attorneys in town, make some appointments, and go interview them. That sounded like a reasonable idea.”

After one interview Palmer knew he wanted to be an attorney.

“It changed my life and I dedicated myself to, for the first time, making good grades with a goal of trying to get into UT law school and that ultimately is what happened,” he said.

With the help of The Texas Challenge grant from UT Austin and Palmer, an endowed scholarship has been created for future Tyler ISD graduates, totaling more than $100,000.

Not only that he named it after his counselor: the Ben Brown Honorary Scholarship.

“It’s something that I think it will leave a legacy, the scholarship was named for Ben Brown, honorary scholarship,” Palmer said. “So his name will live on and people will ask, who was Ben Brown, and they’ll know the story.”

Lauri Anderson, coordinator of guidance counseling for the district, said she is touched by his generosity and acknowledging his counselor.

“A lot of times the role that they play in students life is kind of misunderstood sometimes and maybe even undervalued. But they inspire, and motivate, and support their students academically and emotionally on a daily basis,” Anderson said. “We were so excited and to know that these students have this opportunity to go to a school like UT Austin and have their tuition and fees paid for by someone who was at one point in their position, it was just inspiring.”

Palmer said the scholarship will be for low to moderate income students that need some financial assistance. If there isn’t a student that qualifies for it some years, it will open up to the broader district.

To apply, Tyler ISD advises reaching out to your campus counselor.

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