Ronnie Walker: Longhorn Leader in the Making
The Diverse Face of The University of Texas
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When Ronnie Walker started his freshman year at UT-Austin he was already a mini-celebrity at Pinkston High School in West Dallas.
As high school seniors, the lives of Walker and his football teammates changed when fellow player Jerod Williams was paralyzed during a routine play on the field. Walker and several teammates, with the help of Principal Villegas and several local groups such as Builders of Hope, launched a fundraising campaign that quickly took on a life of its own. Known as Project 24, the campaign was started to help raise funds for Williams’ mother to pay off household bills since her son’s long recovery meant she could not work as easily. However, after wide media attention about Williams and the teammates who successfully recruited other Dallas Independent School District schools by asking students to give 24 cents, word spread and several high profile community members joined the effort. As a result, the Williams family moved into a brand new disability accessible home, and Williams received his own wheel- chair accessible van. The story of Project 24 was documented by YouPlusDallas in a multi-part documentary that can be viewed here.
Today, as a first-generation college student in the McCombs School of Business, Walker reflects on his Project 24. He says that he would like to use what he learned about galvanizing a group and apply it to other causes that are important to him.
“It helped me learn a lot as far as reaching an audience, getting the word out and adjusting to the audience,” he said. “For certain situations I had to change my outer appearance by dressing professionally. When I went to the neighborhood where I grew up, I had to look like them.”
Now that Walker attends UT-Austin he is proud to be at a school with so much diversity and a great football program. Walker already knows he has made his family, his neighborhood and the community of West Dallas proud that he is attending the premiere flagship university in Texas.