More than 2,740 Austin Community College District (ACC) students were invited to participate in the college’s spring 2023 commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12. One of those students was local philanthropist and ACC Trustee Gigi Edwards Bryant.

“ACC has been a love of mine. It is where I first started college and wanted to finish, but life gets in the way like every other student here. I had to stop and raise my family. I promised myself I would return and finish my degree at ACC one day because it was really important to me.”

Bryant earned an Associate of Applied Science in Management Degree. After aging out of the Texas Foster Care System, she first enrolled at ACC in 1977. After having her daughter, she could only take one course at a time.

“When I first started, I had my daughter, and some of the professors would allow me to bring her to sit at the back while she ate breakfast while I did my class. Bringing my daughter to class is probably what kept me in class.”

Bryant eventually transferred to St. Edward’s University, earning a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Management. She later earned a Master’s in Business Administration from The University of Texas at Dallas.

A pillar in the Austin community, Bryant founded GMSA Management Services in 1993, served on the Governor Appointment Advisory Council at the Texas Department of Family Services, and is a Board Member of the Texas Book Festival.

Bryant returned to her college roots when she was elected to the ACC Board of Trustees in January 2014. She accepted her reverse transfer associate degree from the college in spring 2023.

“The college has changed, but its purposes have not. From 1977 to 2023, a whole new facade of buildings, services, professors, administration, and staffing exists. What has never changed is caring. The community part of Austin Community College I felt in 1977 is still felt in 2023.”

Hear more about her journey to completing her long-awaited associate degree in the video below.