Horatio Alger Association picks Fort Worth native and UTA grad for 2019 class

U.S. Marine Col. Vance L. Cryer, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, speaks during a relief and appointment ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Mar. 4, 2016. The 15th MEU's relief and appointment ceremony signifies the passing of responsibility from Sgt. Maj. Douglas B. Schaefer to Sgt. Maj. Dennis K. Campbell. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jamean R. Berry/Released)

Former U.S. Marine Col. Vance L. Cryer, a Fort Worth native and a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, has been named to the 2019 class of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc.

Cryer attended UTA on a Horatio Alger Scholarship, and his inclusion in the 2019 class marks the first time in the 71-year history of the association that it has inducted an Alumni Scholar.

“This is a tremendous moment for the association as Vance’s life story is one to be admired and celebrated,” said Matthew Rose, executive chairman of BNSF and president of the Alger Association and a 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient.

“Despite the challenges he has faced, Vance exemplifies the association’s belief that higher education is a springboard to success in one’s life. We could not be prouder to induct him as an association member, and we are confident that he will continue to positively impact the lives of our Scholars just as he has as an engaged Alumni Scholar for so many years.”

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Cryer was born in 1968 in Fort Worth. Neither of his parents graduated from high school. After they divorced, his grandparents assumed primary care of him and his two older siblings.

He used football as his “suit of emotional armor” as a young man and his motivation to pursue college, the association said in a news release.

He intended to join the U.S. Marine Corps immediately after high school graduation but was encouraged by a school official to apply for a Horatio Alger Scholarship.

W.W. “Foots” Clements, Horatio Alger member and former chairman and CEO of Dr Pepper, personally visited Cryer’s high school to present his Horatio Alger Scholarship.

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Cryer went on to attend the University of Texas, Arlington, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics. He also has a master’s degree in National Strategic Studies from the National War College, National Defense University class of 2011.

“I am honored to be inducted as a lifetime member into an organization that provides such meaningful support to deserving students,” Cryer said in the news release. “Receiving the Horatio Alger Scholarship was one of the first moments I ever felt the power of someone investing in me … and believing in me.”

After graduating from UTA in 1991, he began a 27-year active service career that including multiple squadron tours as a weapons and tactics Instructor, serving as an exchange officer with the UK Royal Air Force, completing six combat tours in Iraq and nine deployments, six of which were with Marine Expeditionary Units.

In his most recent role, Cryer served as the chief of staff and executive assistant for the commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and the executive assistant to the deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration.

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He retired early this year and is now director of operations and experimentation at IOMAXIS, a technology company that develops innovative solutions in communications, cloud computing, and cyber. He lives in Austin with his wife, Juli; together they have three children.

The association’s scholarship program was established in 1984 to extend the association’s mission and impact. In its nearly 35 years, the Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $143 million to students in need, all of which has been funded solely through the generosity of association members and friends, the news release said.

“To be recognized at this point in my life, alongside so many successful men and women in our country, is humbling,” Cryer said in the release. “I’m so grateful to the association and its leadership for selecting me as the first alumni scholar to join the ranks of membership and I will pay it forward to scholars – who have tremendous potential and simply need a helping hand.”

Cryer will be joined by 11 other business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America during the association’s 72nd Annual Horatio Alger Awards Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C on April 2-4, 2019.

The three-day event honors the achievements of both members and national scholars, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and interact, exchanging stories of hardships and triumphs. The full class of 2019 will be announced in December.

“To have an alumni scholar become a member was one of the great dreams of Foots Clements and John W. Rollins Sr. when they championed the launch of the association scholarship program in 1984,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association.

“This moment is a culmination of their vision and the generous support we have received from our members, life partners and friends of distinction over the past three decades. Our collective pride in Col. Cryer is immense, and while he may be the first alumni scholar to receive this honor, undoubtedly, others will join him in the future,” Giroux said in the news release.

Rollins was a 1963 Horatio Alger Award Winner and president of Rollins Leasing Corp. as well as a powerhouse force in Republican politics. He died in 2000.

Horatio Alger (1832-1899) was a popular writer whose stories of boys who grew to be successful men despite their humble circumstances. The Encyclopaedia Britannica called him “one of the most popular American authors in the last 30 years of the 19th century and perhaps the most socially influential American writer of his generation.”

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans was founded in 1947, dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime members.


– FWBP Staff