Championing a Legacy

November 17, 2023


Corey Muñoz ’06


Former students and tennis royalty serve up a lesson in selfless service with an endowed scholarship to Mays Business School.

In June 2022, Misia ’18 and Austin Krajicek ’11 left Paris disappointed but hopeful. After a narrow defeat with victory snatched away in the Men’s Doubles Final of the French Open, the couple set about doing what they do best: refocusing their energy and redoubling their efforts. One year later, Austin and his doubles partner, Ivan Dodig, returned to Paris’ Roland-Garros Stadium to finish what they’d started. This time, they walked away victorious with a World No. 1 doubles ranking.

In those moments where a dream and reality intersect, many focus inwardly, reveling in personal achievement and the sweetness of a victory well earned through grit and determination. Uniquely, the Krajiceks – both Texas A&M University former students – took this moment to recognize unlikely allies in their path to glory, including supporters of the education that has underwritten their historic rise to success. Reflecting on achievement in a sport often thought of as individualistic, they maintain a team-oriented mindset.

A power couple forged in authentic partnership, Misia ’18 and Austin Krajicek ’11 – a marketing executive and global tennis champion – are also among the youngest donors to gift an endowed scholarship to Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. Austin was a tennis star and psychology major during his time at Texas A&M, and Misia joined the Aggie family as a graduate student. She received her Master of Science (MS) in Marketing, a degree she could not have pursued without scholarship assistance from Mays Business School to reduce the cost of out-of-state tuition.

Their mutual humility is immediately endearing. Austin would explain that without Misia’s dynamic career over the last five years, he could never have dedicated the time and energy to the training that has fueled his success at the highest level. But asked to elaborate, Misia credits the strength of her career to her MS Marketing degree at Mays Business School and the scholarship and mentors that helped her along the way.

The highest-ranking American in doubles tennis and current World No. 1, Austin began his tennis career early in life. His family prioritized his development in the sport from age 5 onward. By 14, he’d relocated to Florida, attending two elite tennis academies in IMG and Saddlebrook. Despite heavy recruitment from Florida-based universities, Austin was persuaded to visit Texas A&M by tennis coaches Steve Denton and Bob McKinley.

It didn’t take much time on campus to know that Aggieland was home. “From the minute I stepped foot on campus I felt like I was part of a family,” shares Krajicek, who, as a four-time All-American, helped lead the Aggies to NCAA championships his final year on the team. “The best decisions of my career were to begin college before turning pro and choosing to attend Texas A&M”.

Asked to describe the Texas A&M hall-of-famer, his Aggieland coaches agree, “Austin Krajicek was our first big recruit,” shares Head Coach Steven Denton. “He’s the definition of hard work and perseverance.” Denton recalls being struck by Krajicek’s resilience and relentless optimism. “Austin has the uncanny ability to view adversity and prosperity through the same lens, treating them identically as opportunity.”

“Like any great athlete who reaches the pinnacle of a sport, he has great drive and self-belief; he was a joy to coach and we couldn’t be more proud of his success.” – Coach Steven Denton

Five years ago, Austin found himself disenchanted with singles tennis and hovering on the brink of walking away from the courts for good. It was then when he switched from singles to doubles, a move that would ultimately reshape his professional career. After winning the Men’s Doubles Final at the French Open earlier this year, Austin (also a U.S. Olympian) played in the finals of the U.S. Open this September with his mixed double partner and World No. 4 ranked women’s tennis champ, Jessica Pegula.

Misia Krajicek, having bolstered Austin’s success at every level, has a dynamic career in her own right as director of data analytics and customer success at Red Onion. The leadership and exceptionalism that make her a tremendous asset to the team at Red Onion echo her longstanding, tireless work ethic. Dr. Stephen McDaniel, senior professor and regents professor emeritus at Mays Business School, helped to recruit Krajicek and was effusive in his praise. “Misia was a pure delight, the model student you want to have in a graduate program,” he shared.

A student McDaniel knew he could count on in both quality of work and collaboration, Misia was often assigned to student consulting projects where making a great impression was critical. As with all her endeavors while at Mays, whether working with Southwest Airlines or other highvisibility partners in student consulting exercises, Misia “didn’t just participate,” according to McDaniel, “she excelled.

Dr. McDaniel was key to the Krajiceks’ return to Texas. When they moved back College Station for Austin to finish his degree and Misia to pursue her masters, they were working to make ends meet. The scholarship Misia received was essential to her participation in continuing education. “The assistance with this financial burden was such a blessing,” shared the Krajiceks. “It allowed us to pursue our education without being burdened by an enormous loan or the need to work overtime to keep food on the table.”

For the funding she needed, Misia worked closely with Dr. McDaniel to secure the Julie and John Balkema Masters in Marketing Scholarship. For his part, McDaniel was eager to help such a high-performing student with an equally outstanding attitude. “She was always positive, never complaining and brought a go-with-theflow energy and a penchant for encouraging others, even in challenges.” The Krajiceks were equally appreciative of Mays Business School and McDaniel’s support of their endeavors. Misia credits McDaniel with helping her to see her graduate education as a real option, not a lofty aspiration. She added, “It was really the difference in being able to focus on school and just be a student.”

Just being a student wasn’t something Misia experienced in her undergraduate experience as a student athlete at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. So, she fully embraced the chance to focus extensively on her studies at Texas A&M, crediting Mays Business School faculty and staff with making a challenging experience enjoyable. “One thing that really set the Mays experience apart was the quality of the professors and advisors. You could tell they all really cared about you.” Krajicek was quick to point out the distinction between faculty concern for academic success and students holistically thriving. “They didn’t just care that we were learning the text to the letter,” she elaborated. “They were really invested, ensuring we had the knowledge, support and direction to apply what we’d learned and succeed beyond the classroom.” Accordingly, Misia’s postgraduation career success bankrolled the couples’ financial needs until Austin’s doubles game really took off, a fact that furthered their desire to come alongside others looking to education to further their careers.

The Krajicek’s generosity of spirit aligns readily with the Texas A&M Core Values and Mays Business School’s curation of leaders. “We relish the opportunity to help pay it forward,” shared Austin. “Tennis is a sport of never-ending goals and varied opportunities to chase. We’ve worked really hard to be in this position to give back.” And giving back is exactly what they’ve done with the Misia ’18 and Austin Krajicek ’11 MS Marketing Endowed Scholarship.

The Krajiceks worked with the Texas A&M Foundation and Mays Business School to design their gift, intended to ease the burden of educational costs for a MS Marketing student from out of state – with an ultimate goal of making Texas A&M and the Mays experience more accessible to a broader audience. Misia agreed, “If we could help make an aspirational degree a reality for a student from out of state, we’d have really hit the mark,” she said.

Both Austin and Misia feel tremendously blessed by the opportunities they’ve been afforded at Texas A&M and want to share those blessings with future Aggies. “Beginning to build our legacy at Texas A&M has reinforced the value of playing for something bigger than yourself,” notes Austin. “It’s the chance to leave something better than it was when you arrived.” Misia echoed the sentiment, expressing her desire to lead by example. “You are never too young to give back to those coming in behind you, to make a contribution that could help change a life.”