Anna Unterberger ’80 enables deserving students to pursue their passions through an endowed undergraduate scholarship — a gift that was enhanced by The Rice Investment Matching Gift Program.
“In grade school, I told my mother that I wanted to do something to help other people who aren't as lucky as I am,” Anna Unterberger ’80 recalls. “She looked at me and said, ‘If you want to help people, be a lawyer or a doctor.’ So I decided to become a lawyer.”
After graduating from Rice with a degree in political science and psychology, Anna spent most of her 35-year law career working in the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office. In her last 14 years, she served as counsel on first-degree murder cases and worked to ensure that her clients would not incur the death penalty. “Every day I was able to perform an act of charity by helping people who were in trouble and could not afford a lawyer,” Anna says.
Anna credits her Rice education as providing the key building blocks for her work. This became especially apparent to her during her time working on capital crime cases. Anna explains, “I used my specialization in physiological psychology to help me understand my clients’ lives and how the brain influences someone’s behavior. And I actually learned about and won my first ever oral argument in Doc C’s constitutional law class at Rice.”
Out of gratitude for her education, Anna is paying it forward. By establishing the Anna M. Unterberger Scholarship with a gift now and a gift through her estate plan to further her impact for future generations, Anna is providing undergraduates with the skills and opportunities to give back in their own way. “Rice taught me to always put my best effort forward. I wanted all my work to be top-notch because that would be Rice-worthy work,” she says. “I hope that this scholarship will give students that same goal to do good work and help other people.”
Anna was especially moved by The Rice Investment Matching Program. “The thing that really hit me was the match of fifty cents on the dollar for scholarship gifts. I knew that the generous match money was only on the table through the end of the calendar year, and if I gave now, I’d be able to make a significant impact right off the bat and help students as soon as possible.”