A planned gift from Benjamin Hayford ’14 will create a joint fellowship and study abroad scholarship at The Bush School of Government and Public Service.
Benjamin Hayford ’14 looked for specific characteristics when seeking a graduate program. His top requirement was a program that would deepen his already extensive knowledge of China and other Asian nations. He also wanted a non-partisan graduate program that focused on public service and boasted a faculty that blended theory and practice. Finally, the ideal program would culminate in a capstone project that called for the application of learning through hands-on experience.
Hayford’s quest led him to enroll in Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. Three years after graduation, the 28-year-old Washington state native credits the school with helping him grow intellectually, succeed professionally and giving him a valued place in the Aggie family.
As a first-generation student, Hayford understands the importance of education and the value of earning multiple degrees to further a professional career. In 2017, he made a commitment to offer similar opportunities to future Bush School students. The young professional designated a portion of his estate to the Texas A&M Foundation to create the Benjamin J. Hayford National Security Fellowship and the Benjamin J. Hayford Bush School of Government and Public Service Study Abroad Scholarship.
Hayford’s commitment to public service stems from his family’s deep military ties that stretch back to the American Revolution. He proudly points to the more recent military service of both of his grandfathers, his uncle, his father and his older brother. “Growing up in a family like that, military service and service in general—whether it is in your community or on a state or national level—is just part of what you do,” said Hayford, who followed in their footsteps by joining the U.S Army National Guard. His interest in foreign affairs is rooted in his participation in the Model United Nations program while in middle and high school. “I fell in love with learning about different cultures and countries,” he said. “The ways people interact, governments govern, and nations trade and negotiate fascinate me.”
During those early years, he developed a fascination with Asia. As a young man, he served as a missionary in Taiwan, as a student ambassador at the USA Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, and as an employee of a U.S. nonprofit in Tibet. These experiences led him to earn a degree in Asian studies with minors in business management and Chinese from Brigham Young University.
Hayford’s decision to pursue a Master of International Affairs with concentrations in China studies, intelligence, and defense policy and military affairs was prompted by his desire to deepen his understanding of China’s policies and its relationship to the United States. A three-week study abroad trip to China gave Hayford the opportunity to meet top foreign affairs officials and policymakers. He also used his time at the Bush School to reach out to U.S. policymakers and subject-matter experts and to write op-eds that were published in media outlets such as The Christian Science Monitor.
While at the Bush School, Hayford took every opportunity to learn from visiting political contacts. Soon after moving to Dallas after graduation, Hayford volunteered in the presidential campaign. Eventually, he hopes to use his education along with his various experiences and contacts to influence U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.
Coming from a working middle-class family, Hayford realizes he wouldn’t have achieved a master’s degree without financial support. “Without scholarships, grants, fellowships and on-campus jobs, earning a master’s degree when my parents didn’t even have associate’s degrees while I was growing up would have been unattainable,” he said. “The Jim McIngvale Fellowship I received—which was funded through the Texas A&M Foundation—along with study abroad funds and the ability to pay in-state tuition reduced the amount of student loans I borrowed. These funds made attending the Bush School financially attainable.”
Because of this experience, Hayford realizes how important financial aid can be for students. “Studies tell a compelling story that the more quality education you receive after high school, the higher your earning potential, both immediately following graduation and throughout your career,” said Hayford, who now works in oil and gas. “I have seen that story already begin to play out in my own life. There is no other investment a person can make in themselves that has the immediate and continued benefit over the span of a 40-year career than a quality education.”
He also believes that every former student—no matter when they graduated—should develop a plan to give back to Texas A&M. “A friend recently asked, ‘Why are you giving to the university?’” Hayford said. “Simple: I have a capacity to give so I must give. Planning today to leave a portion of my estate to future Aggies is a way for me to contribute to developing leaders of character who will be dedicated to serving the greater good.”
You can support the expansion of the student population with outright or planned gift endowed student fellowships, language immersion scholarships and internship endowments ranging from $25,000 to $100,000.