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Ryans receives life-changing gift

Lamar University’s Fredrick (Fred) Ryans captivated the attention of two local business leaders with his heart-warming speech at the annual scholarship dinner in April 2017. A few days later, they would present Ryans with a life-changing gift.

Ryans' new carRyans grew up in south central Los Angeles with his grandparents. While he was in high school, they decided to retire and move half way across the country to Cleveland, Texas to give their grandson a fresh start in preparation for college. After many schools declined his application for enrollment, Ryans heard about Lamar University and decided he would try one more time to fulfill his dream of attending college. He was accepted to Lamar University and graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.

“My grandmother always told me that you could work with your back, or you could work with your mind. That’s something that has really stuck with me to this day,” Ryans said.

Fred was selected to share at the annual dinner for university scholarship donors where his story caught the attention of Bob Thewman, general manager at Philpott Ford, and Charlie Cooper, owner and CEO of Americom Marketing.

In his story, he told of how he was saving for a new vehicle after he lost his car to the historic flooding in the Houston area in the spring of 2016. So the two local business leaders worked together with Lamar University to award him with a much needed vehicle.

“We knew that in order to find the right job and continue on the path that he wanted, he needed something to drive,” Thewman said.

With friends and supporters gathered, Ryans was surprised with the keys to his new car hours before his graduation ceremony on May 13.

“My grandpa years ago around college time gave me a car. He believed in me and this community believes in Fred,” Cooper said. “We can’t wait to see what happens with Fred in years to come.”

A mock interview was set up at Lamar University where Ryans was told that he was being featured in a student profile video. After the interview was complete, he was escorted outside for some “additional shots” where he found a number of fellow students and administrators waiting. The presentation was captured on camera and posted to Lamar University’s social media sites to share Ryan’s inspirational story with fellow students and the community. The video can be viewed at