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Stephen Powe and Joni Lora posing for a photo outside.
Stephen Powe ’78 and Joni Hennigan Lora hold a framed copy of the cover of Stephen’s thesis. | Image: Photo Courtesy of Joni Hennigan Lora
Joni Hennigan Lora recently established the Stephen ’78 and Barbara Beales Powe Endowed Scholarship for the Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. This scholarship was created in honor of graduate student, Stephen Powe ’78, who studied under her late father, Dr. James Hennigan ’54. Distributions from this endowment will be used to provide one or more scholarships to full-time students in good standing who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in industrial and systems engineering from Texas A&M University.
 
Lora’s story with Texas A&M began when she was young, roller skating the halls of the Zachry Engineering Building with other professors’ kids during long summer days.
 
“(Texas) A&M was all we knew, and we loved it that way,” Lora said. “My parents instilled a great pride in me, deep down, for Texas A&M and all their contributions to support the Aggie spirit.”
 
She moved to College Station as a child when her father returned to Texas A&M for his master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial engineering. Hennigan remained at the school as a professor, hosting study nights and backyard barbecues for the students.
 
Jeannette Hennigan, Lora’s mother, dedicated her time to the university as well. She worked as an executive assistant for six former university presidents, and was also an assistant to the editor for the Texas Aggie magazine. She was skilled in the arts, and as an Honorary Singing Cadet, she helped create the Association of Former Singing Cadets.
 
Among her most notable contributions to the Aggie legacy are her authorship of the poem “Silver Taps at A&M” and the sketch “Muster Spiral Candle,” which has been on the cover of multiple Aggie Muster programs.
 
Inspired by her parents, Lora began her undergraduate education at Texas A&M and enjoyed extensive involvement in campus organizations. After two years, she transferred to the University of North Texas to finish her degree. Though Lora left College Station, the Aggie spirit followed her, making a distinct appearance 40 years later through an email from the university.
 
Powe, who obtained his master’s degree under Lora’s father, had kept a promise made decades ago. Sitting in Lora’s inbox in late 2020 was a polished copy of Powe’s final paper, a lasting symbol of Aggie commitment.
 
In 1978, Powe was approved for graduation after presenting a report on his independent study. However, as he became busy with work and raising his family, he was never able to turn in a clean copy of his final paper. In 2020, with time finally on his side, Powe wanted to stick to the promise he made to his mentor that he would turn in his final paper. He emailed his paper to Texas A&M, who then connected him with his professor’s daughter — Joni Lora.
 
“Knowing he valued his promise to my dad enough for it to continue to be a bucket list item for him after 42 years just floored me,” Lora said. “It struck deep to my core what Texas A&M is really all about.”
 
Inspired by Powe’s dedication to professionalism as an Aggie, engineer and mentee of Hennigan, Lora decided to establish a scholarship in Powe’s name. She hopes that Powe will be able to continue impacting other Aggies by meeting the recipients of the scholarship.
 
“I know my parents would want me to say ‘thank you’ in a bigger way than just words,” Lora said. “I hope that he can share his story. The students will be better engineers having met Steve.”
 
Texas A&M remains a special place in Lora’s heart. It is her goal to one day return to Texas A&M to obtain her master’s degree in industrial distribution, and earn her very own Aggie ring.
 
“I just have to hear the first few bars of the Aggie War Hymn and I am moved to tears from immense pride and memories of everything Aggie,” Lora said.

How to Give

Endowments supporting Texas A&M University College of Engineering students have an immeasurable impact on their education. If you are interested in supporting the College of Engineering and its departments or you would like more information on how you can give, please contact Ryan Nichols, assistant director of development.