Dr. Stacey Boland BS’00 and Dr. Justin Boland BS’00 originally met as undergraduates at UT Dallas, first connecting over heated physics discussions. That initial spark eventually transformed into love. The couple — now married 17 years — share many things, including professional aspirations, a 7-year-old son and an appreciation of their time at the University.
“Our education has served us well, and giving back is how we acknowledge the important role UTD played in launching us on our way,” Stacey said.
Today, both Justin and Stacey work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. Justin is the supervisor of the Advanced Instrument Concepts and Science Applications group. He is also working to deliver a camera for the Mars 2020 rover as part of the MEDA instrument suite. Stacey serves as a project systems engineer at JPL. She recently worked with the ISS-RapidScat team to develop and operate a radar attached to the Columbus module of the International Space Station, which provided data on ocean wind speed and direction to scientists and weather forecasters from 2014 to 2016. She is a member of the steering committee overseeing the National Academies’ next Earth science decadal survey, scheduled for release later this year, which will guide Earth system science and application priorities at NASA, NOAA and USGS for the next 10 years.
Yet no matter how high the Boland family soars, they remain connected to UT Dallas, keeping in touch with their “adopted physics family” — the University educators who served as catalysts to propel them to where they are today.
“The University invested in us as undergraduates, and now it’s our privilege to be able to give something back,” Stacey said.
Although they did not have much to give, the couple began supporting UT Dallas programs and initiatives soon after graduation.
“Even if the gift is small — and we started out very, very small — global rankings take into account how many of the alumni donate, so donating anything after you graduate actually improves the value of your degree,” Stacey said. “When we make our annual gifts to UT Dallas, it reminds us of our time there, which always brings a smile. We give each year to physics and the Honors College, as they were such a large part of our college experience.”
In addition to their annual gifts, the couple decided it was time to include the University in their estate plans and recently included UT Dallas as a beneficiary in their wills.
“We trust UT Dallas and want to empower them to make a difference, much like they empowered us,” Stacey said. “UT Dallas is a place where gifts are appreciated and can still make a meaningful difference.”