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Sheryl and John Barton sitting together on a house porch smiling.
Sheryl and John Barton ’86 generously establish a civil engineering graduate fellowship. | Image: Courtesy of Sheryl and John Barton

Looking back, Sheryl and John Barton ’86 remember well the excitement they felt as newlyweds driving into Aggieland for the first time. The people they encountered and moments they experienced inspired them, 40 years later, to establish a fellowship for Aggies pursuing a graduate degree in civil engineering.

We had no idea how the love we would have and the friendships we would make at Texas A&M University would shape us for decades to come.

Sheryl Barton

John’s fascination with the engineering of highways and bridges, sparked by his high school work experience with the Texas Department of Transportation, is what started the Bartons’ adventure in College Station, Texas. While John pursued a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Texas A&M, Sheryl worked off-campus to provide for them financially.

As a student, John was awarded the Dewitt C. Greer Award, a scholarship established in the namesake of a Texas A&M graduate and pioneer in Texas highway development. The Bartons were grateful for the scholarship, which allowed John to continue to grow in his engineering education and experience.

“My time at Texas A&M taught me tremendously valuable life lessons and gave me technical engineering skills and knowledge that enabled me to enjoy a successful career in the transportation industry,” John said. “The friendships of my classmates and the mentor relationships with the faculty have contributed to my success in my career and lifted me up throughout my life.”

Leadership characteristics are among the skills John gained from his time as a student. He strives to embody servant leadership, a mindset and philosophy that shaped his interactions with others. He lent his expertise to his alma mater, serving in various roles within The Texas A&M University System. These include assistant vice chancellor and associate vice chancellor positions at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, associate vice chancellor of Texas A&M-RELLIS and professor of engineering practice.

The Bartons believe that Texas A&M and Aggies have shaped them, and are now returning the favor by establishing the Sheryl and John Barton '86 Endowed Fellowship, born out of their deep love for the university.

“We are proud to establish this fellowship to support the continued education of graduate students within the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,” John said. “My career success and all that it has brought me and my family in terms of financial security, personal growth, community support, lifelong learning, cherished friendships and business relationships are immeasurable. All of this would not have been possible or as robust without the gift of the education I received as a civil engineering student at Texas A&M.”

While the Bartons are passionate about advancing the impact of the civil engineering department, they also see the global need for more talented, problem-solving civil engineers. It is their wish that this fellowship will help meet that need.

“Our world is evolving rapidly, and we must develop innovative and greatly impactful solutions to our growing public infrastructure challenges related to climate, resiliency, connectivity and equitable access to services for all,” John said. “By doing so, we will continue to offer the opportunities for a brighter future to our posterity, continuing a legacy that Texas A&M has always been known for.”

John and Sheryl raised two Aggies, Lauren Hauver ’11 and Rachel Barton ’13. John is the senior vice president and chairman of professional services for HNTB Corporation. Sheryl is a retired educator. They reside in College Station, where their love for Texas A&M began and their generosity will grow.

“We hope this gift will allow some of our best and brightest students the opportunity to share in this same calling and career that we were blessed to receive while attending Texas A&M,” they said. “What they learn will change the world for the better.”

How to Give

Fellowships encourage collaboration between the faculty, students and industry mentors while allowing graduate students to further their education and thus having a greater impact on the industry. If you are interested in supporting the College of Engineering and its departments or would like more information on how you can give, please contact one of our development officers.