Chair's Corner - September 2019

Chair's Corner - September 2019

The Gulf Coast Section Scholarship Endowment Fund

The Scholarship Endowment Fund is very near and dear to my heart. Many years ago, I served as the Scholarship Chair for the SPE Gulf Coast Section, and was actively involved in interviewing high school seniors in the Greater Houston area for our Scholarship Program. Once the students were selected, I was responsible for maintaining and confirming the scholarship criteria with the students as they progressed through their college level curriculum. What I can tell you is this: these kids are amazing. They work so incredibly hard, and have more extra-curricular activities in a given week than most of us put together as adults. The best part of all of this is that they are right here in our own backyard.

In order for our GCS Scholarship recipients to keep their scholarship, they must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA while in school, and also participate in a summer internship within the industry if they are not a Petroleum Engineering student. This internship program is a great way for the students to actually get their hands dirty and experience what our industry has to offer. It is so important that we as an industry recruit and keep the highest level of talent. However, unless a high school student knows somebody like a friend or family member in our industry, they have no idea of what our industry can offer them. Most high school students learn about our industry from news media outlets or movies. We don’t want to lose the top talent in Houston to other industries like big tech, medicine, or law because we are not actively recruiting these students into our industry. We must be the ones to initiate those conversations with the students as early as possible, and teach them about our industry.

In 2014, the oil prices dropped significantly and as a result much of the sponsorship for the GCS dried up. This event had a devastating impact on our Scholarship funds. We ended up telling our students we couldn’t give them their full scholarship amount. Even though these kids had done nothing wrong, and even though their tuition didn’t change, we had to lower their scholarships for 3 consecutive years. To their credit, they were all very gracious and still thankful to be getting money at all. To me, that was a great indication that we had pick the right kids to be our scholarship winners. But as a result of this process, the Scholarship Endowment Fund was born.

The Scholarship Endowment Fund is a way for us as an industry to recruit and maintain our top talent with less dependence on the current price of oil. With the hard work of many people in the GCS, we have currently raised just over half a million dollars. The goal for the Endowment Fund is $8 Million. I know we can get there if we work together to achieve this goal. And I look forward to the day when I cannot only promise but guarantee our scholarship to our hardworking student recipients.

To donate, please go to

SPE-Gulf Coast Section Update

I would like to welcome our new GCS Section Specialist, Kristen Washam, to the SPE GCS team. She is replacing Taylor Wright. Taylor has been promoted within SPE to a regional development position. We are sad to see Taylor go, but wish her the best of luck in her new adventure. We are pleased to have Kristen on board and look forward to working with her in the upcoming year. Kristen’s alma matter is Texas State University. She has a background in accounts payables/receivables, and has prior experience in financial planning.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to our new Board members for the 2019-2020 year:

  • Carlos Torres, Secretary
  • Antonio Lazo, Community Services Chair
  • Kumar Pugazhenthi, Young Professionals Chair
  • Elizabeth Cambre, Innovate Chair
  • Jose Villa, Director-at-Large
  • Leslie Malone, Director-at-Large
  • Mikhail Alekseenko, Director-at-Large

Lastly, while he is still on the Board this year I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Sunil Lakshminarayanan as last year’s GCS Chair. You were tremendous, and a very tough act to follow. I look forward to serving on the Board with you for one more year, my friend.

Until next month,

Gabrielle Morrow