Christina Hixson 2006
Christina M. Hixson
Las Vegas, Nev.
Christina Hixson never had the opportunity to go to college, but thanks to her, and the Lied Foundation Trust that she administers as its sole trustee, approximately 100 young Iowans every year since 1995 have had their opportunity. And 100 young Iowans each year from now on will have theirs as well.
In 1995, Ms. Hixson, a native of Clarinda, Iowa, launched the Hixson Opportunity Awards Program with a gift from the Lied Foundation Trust, established by Ernst Lied, Las Vegas and Omaha businessman and real estate developer for whom Ms. Hixson worked her entire adult life. Initially, the program provided full tuition assistance for one year for one student from every Iowa county who faced significant personal or financial adversity. The first class of 100, which enrolled in the fall of 1995, included children from families that had lost parents, businesses or farms; children from refugee families that had moved to Iowa to start new lives; and young people who had suffered serious medical challenges.
The first year of the program was so successful, and these young people made such an impression on Ms. Hixson, that she continued to expand it with gifts from the Lied Foundation Trust. These gifts eventually fully endowed the Hixson Opportunity Awards Program, so that up to 100 Iowa young people each year would receive $2,500 scholarships, renewable for three additional years with satisfactory academic progress.
A key part of the Hixson program was creating an environment for success for the students. It does so by creating a close community with special activities and advising programs. Ms. Hixson takes an active role in this part of the program, personally meeting with each group of new Hixson students and participating in other activities, such as reunions for Hixson graduates. She also provided the lead gift through the Lied Foundation Trust for the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center, which will be a home for the Hixson students and house academic support services and programs benefiting all Iowa State students.
The Hixson Opportunity Awards Program was groundbreaking. Most importantly, it works. Hixson students succeed and graduate at a rate 10 percent higher than the all-university average, with nearly 600 Hixson scholars now alumni of Iowa State University. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.