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Students’ Spirit of Goodness and 3D Savvy Adds Original Ornament to GivingTuesday

The University of St. Thomas-Houston is part of a global generosity movement that expresses itself annually through #GivingTuesday. This year, Nov. 28 is the day. At St. Thomas, your GivingTuesday gift will go to the St. Thomas Fund, making a scholarship difference for students who dream of earning a UST degree but do not have the financial means.

Seniors Daniel Lam and George Fakes in UST's 3D Printing Lab with ornamentsBiology Students Add 3D “Aww” Factor

This year, two UST Biology students are adding some wonder to the day by designing and 3D printing an original ornament as a gift to GivingTuesday donors who make a donation of $35 or more while supplies last. Their story of knowledge, goodness and community is one you will want to share.

It really started a couple of years ago. Biology seniors George Fakes and Daniel Lam became intrigued with 3D printing after a UST biology class led by Dr. Shivas Amin introduced them to the technology and the Biology Department’s 3D Printer Lab. The assignment required them to design and 3D print a protein as part of learning about the biomolecular structure of proteins and other important life molecules.

Knowledge Sparked Innovation

Sometime later, the innovative fellows came up with an idea to use their new knowledge to boost their planned toy drive for Texas Children’s Hospital at Christmas on the Mall.

Lam said, “We wanted to offer fun gifts to everyone who donated toys, so we designed several 3D ornaments — the UST Sports logo, Lenny wearing a Christmas hat, and a spinning Celt crest. Everybody loved them.”

Innovation Led to Success

Fakes added, “We raised over 250 toys and $1,000. We used the money to purchase needed items for local women’s shelters and foster homes.”

Not surprisingly, the duo’s fundraising success came to the attention of Dawn Koenning, UST’s Vice President for University Advancement and Chief Development Officer. Koenning was so impressed she scheduled the two students to present their fundraising project to the UST Board of Directors.

GivingTuesday original design ornamentsLiking what they heard, the Board asked Fakes and Lam to design and 3D print an original ornament for GivingTuesday donors. Instead of payment in exchange for their design and manufacturing work, the students requested Chick-Fil-A for their Tri-Beta club meetings.

UST Senior Director of Development Jacquelyn Olexa said, “We are so excited to partner with George and Daniel to produce 300 ornaments that are 3D models of our Chapel of St. Basil. They brought multiple designs to the Advancement Team in a Shark Tank-style presentation. We made our selection, and they created these original ornaments in the Biology Department’s 3D Printing Lab, so the ornaments are very special, and so are our students!”

A Spirit of Goodness and Giving

“Our grand goal is helping as many people as possible,” Fakes said. “Now, we can help students get an education and become Celts.”

Lam added, “We’re both planning to go to medical school and become doctors in fields where helping people and communities is the goal.”

Both students are on biology scholarships that were funded through GivingTuesday.

GivingTuesday original design ornamentContinuing a Legacy from the Basilian Fathers

The Basilian Fathers who founded UST teach that no student should be turned away from their higher education dreams for lack of finances. #GivingTuesday is an opportunity for you to help UST continue its tradition of generosity by empowering the disempowered to earn their degrees.

On #GivingTuesday, Nov. 28, be part of making a life-changing difference for economically disadvantaged students who dream of earning a UST degree. To make your GivingTuesday gift, go here.