Arbor Creek Scholarship helps MSU Texas grad student

Isabella Black recipient of rent-free apartment for one year

Arbor Creek Scholarship helps MSU Texas grad student

Midwestern State University graduate student Isabella Black is no stranger to financial insecurity, but for the first time in her life, she has a space she can call her own thanks to a special scholarship. She is the recipient of this year’s Arbor Creek Scholarship, which provides a one-bedroom apartment at Arbor Creek Apartments to a graduate student rent-free for one year.

Black is a first-generation student who grew up with intense financial insecurity but has managed to thrive in spite of those setbacks. While the norm may be having a parent help with getting into college, Black was on her own. “I had to start from scratch,” she said. “Having a space I can call my own is something I’ve never had before. Now, I feel at ease to have a home base. It’s one less thing to worry about. I grew up with little to no transportation and a background of intense financial insecurity, but now have a sense of stability.”

Black graduated cum laude in Fall 2022 with a bachelor’s in history and minor in sociology. Graduate school has been easier so far because the classes she’s taking are subjects that are already her strong points, and she maintains a 4.0 GPA. Her main interests are post-war politics from 1945-1990. “I’m fascinated by the policies set during those years because we still reconcile with those choices made today,” she said. Black is a graduate teaching assistant and teaches Survey of American History Since 1865.

In Fall 2022, Black won first place in the Moffett Library’s Research Awards for her work, “Indianizing Midwestern State University: The Relationship Between the Kiowa and Midwestern State University, 1952-2006.” She studied articles from 1952-1976 in the Wichitan, Wichita Falls Times, and the Wichita Falls Record News and found that in 1952 an adoption ceremony was held between the Kiowa Indians and Midwestern State. “There are a lot of inconsistencies with the way the relationship between the Kiowa and MSU has been portrayed, but I hope this paper can rectify some of that,” she said.

Black is now part of a project by the Department of History to update Professor Emeritus of History Everett Kindig’s book Midwestern State University: The Better Part of a Century, which was printed in 2000. The period she’s researching, 1998-2003, was a pivotal time in the history of MSU Texas – it covers the retirement of Louis J. Rodriguez in 2000, the presidency of Henry Moon, and the impact 9/11 and geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East had on MSU Texas students.

Black said her research gave her a better understanding of her university. “It makes you more appreciative of the place you’re in,” she said.

Black makes time for campus involvement and was instrumental in reviving the campus History Club, which was last active in 2013. 

While an undergraduate, Black worked with the Office of Student Life and Involvement as an MSU Texas Crew Leader from 2020-2022. As a graduate, she serves as vice president for the history honors fraternity, Phi Alpha Theta.

Black also works as a part-time research assistant with SECURUS Strategic Trade Solutions to research international trade and Eastern European affairs.

Arbor Creek Apartments and Hayley Residential have supported MSU Texas graduate students with this scholarship for the past 15 years. In 2009, Arbor Creek management personnel realized how overwhelming the financial consequences could be when a college graduate decides to pursue an advanced degree. They stepped in to help, according to Haley Residential regional manager Kathie Tant. Since then, the scholarship, valued at approximately $7,500, has provided 15 students with a place to live without the burden of rent.

Tant gives credit to all the Arbor Creek staff for supporting and maintaining the scholarship. “We love doing this,” she said.

Tiffany Ziegler, interim dean of the Dr. Billie Doris McAda Graduate School, said that MSU Texas is fortunate to have partnerships with community businesses such as Arbor Creek that recognize and foster academic success. “This is a huge benefit because it helps make earning a graduate degree more affordable, and in some cases, is life-changing for the recipient,” Ziegler said. “I’m extremely grateful to Kathie Tant and Haley Residential for their generous support of Midwestern State University, the McAda Graduate School, and our students.”

Ziegler said that the graduate school’s benefactor, Dr. Billie Doris McAda, knew the hardships students could face and developed the endowment, and its included scholarships, especially for students such as Black. “This is thus an extension of her goodwill and her beliefs,” Ziegler said. “I know Isabella will make the most of this opportunity.”

As for her success as a first-gen student, Black gives credit to personnel in the History Department. “They’ve been wonderful,” she said. “Faculty are supportive and want you to realize your potential. They’re passionate about being a positive person in their students’ lives. They are dedicated to their students.”

In 2019, Black participated in the Mustangs Roundup, an orientation program for new students at MSU Texas where incoming students connect with upper class students and faculty and staff. As she watched the history department’s presentations, she knew she made the right choice for her future.

After earning her master’s in history and publishing her thesis, Black plans to earn her Ph.D. in public policy. But for now, she has a haven at Arbor Creek to concentrate on her studies.

Related Posts

A journey from MSU Texas to Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and beyond

A continuing education success story

Fall 2023 Midwestern State University Graduates

Fall 2023 Honor Roll