Helping UNT Students Help Others
Fannie Belle Gaupp knows that life can take unexpected and unwelcome turns. She also knows that a helping hand can turn despair into hope. In working with the UNT Foundation to establish the Fannie Belle Gaupp Outstanding Social Work Student Award, she aims to help students who will help others.
Fannie has always worked to help others shoulder their burdens, and there was a time when she needed that kind of support herself. "The tragedy of my life," she says, "is my son died at three with meningitis."
After his death, Fannie fell into a deep depression, but her boss, Dr. Karl Nau, helped her overcome the hardship. Fannie was Karl's assistant at the department of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Texas Medical School in Galveston. "Dr. Nau told me I'd be a good social worker," she says. "He encouraged me to get my master's degree and told me he'd help me get into school."
Fannie enrolled at the University of Wisconsin and received a scholarship for advanced studies, completing her degree in 1951. She moved to Houston to work at a veteran's hospital and married fellow social worker Dieter Gaupp in 1954. One year later, they had a son, Peter.
The Gaupps' careers led them to Houston, to the Rio Grande Valley and finally to Denton. Fannie helped children with adoptions and foster care, and aided juveniles in overcoming abuse issues while her husband worked with mentally challenged children. "We came to Denton because of one of Dieter's projects, and because of the universities," Fannie says. "His project was one of the first in Texas to use multiple professions to test mentally challenged children."
In 1971, Fannie found her own niche when she became founding director of UNT's social work program. "This program touched my heart," she says. "Producing undergraduate social workers is what I believed in." Fannie and her colleagues established one of the state's first accredited undergraduate programs.
Fannie is using a small inheritance to make life good for others, passing down what she's gained to help UNT social work students help others. "We all reap the benefits of a helping hand," she says.