Welcome Home, 41

This past December I was on my way to Texas A&M’s campus with thousands of others to greet the 4141 engine and welcome President George H.W. Bush home to Aggieland one last time. Shortly before hitting the intersection at Texas Avenue and University Drive, my Great Aunt Dottie in Kentucky called. She hoped I would see the train in person as her and my grandmother, like many other Americans, had been keeping up with the day’s events on TV. After a brief conversation and before we hung up, Aunt Dottie mentioned she would love if I wrote an article not only about this experience, but a couple other events regarding President Bush that I’ve had an opportunity to attend right here in College Station, TX in recent years.

Though a few months delayed, I took some good notes and finally put pen to paper.

Growing Up

My earliest memory of George H.W. Bush was in 1999. Dad’s Kentucky family was down for one of their many visits. Great MawMaw Melvin, who was quite the traveller, writer, and the one who ultimately inspired my letter writing and now blogging insisted that the family take the 90 mile drive to College Station to visit the tenth built Presidential library. While I don’t remember any specifics from the library, I do remember Great MawMaw Melvin’s kind words of the Bushes and how happy she was to see the library.

Holly and Travis – Minute Maid Park – 2004

Around this same time, my family began attending Astros games at their newly built home in downtown Houston. Often times right behind catcher, Brad Ausmus, were George and Barbara sitting so sweetly. As Astros greats such as Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman and Jeff Bagwell stepped up to bat or crossed home plate you could see the Bushes gentle smiles as they cheered the guys on to victory. Though not hard to do, it was always such a thrill to spot George and Barbara whether at Minute Maid Park or at home on TV.

Additionally, shortly before the Bush Presidential Library opened in 1997, Houston City Council voted to change the name of Houston Intercontinental Airport to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Considering the majority of my family lives out-of-state we’ve made several trips to Bush whether to fly out, pick-up, or drop-off…still do! I believe most would agree with me that the entire airport is very Houston…and how fitting – it’s synonymous to the love and support the Bushes had of Houston – complete with an 8-foot statue of H.W. in Terminal C. On a side note, I thought it was very classy on United’s part the day of Bush’s National service, December 5th, to close gate C41 to pay tribute to 41’s life and legacy.

Although my earliest memories of the Bushes aren’t any different from most my age from around the Houston area, I remember thinking what a leader this man must have been to have such a presence in my young life and be so incredibly admired by those years older than me.

The Bryan-College Station Community

In the past 10 years or so I’ve taken a great interest in learning about American presidents. In fact it’s on my bucket list to visit every Presidential library and the nerdy, list-loving side of me took it as far as memorizing all 45 presidents in order of presidency. Tho I’m not sure where this talent will take me, I can recite them all in under 11 seconds. Anyhow, I always found H.W. and the Bush family in general to be one of the more fascinating presidents and families to learn about.

Outside the George Bush Library on one of our birthday visits College Station
June 12, 2015

Then 6 years ago, I took the same 90 mile drive the family took back in 1999 – and several times thereafter – and planted my roots in College Station, first to attend Texas A&M and now as a former student who drank the kool aid and never left. During my time at A&M, I often found myself cycling to the library and walking the Barbara Bush Rose Garden during study breaks, checking out the newest rotating exhibits throughout the year, and insisting family and friends visiting from out-of-state make time to see the library. My best friend and I even made it an annual tradition for the 3 years we were in college to wear “fun” socks every June 12th, H.W’s birthday, and visit the library.

Today, as I’ve transitioned from a student to a resident of Bryan-College Station over the last three years, I’ve heard many first-hand, heartwarming stories, memories, and kind words of the Bushes that took place right here in the BCS community during their visits. Whether from restaurant owners and staff who waited on the two, community members who crossed paths with them while visiting the library grounds, or from students who ran into the couple while on campus – each story was filled with adjectives describing the Bushes as humble, welcoming, interested, sweet, classy…and the list of kind words goes on and on.

George H.W. Bush getting ready to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the A&M vs. Yale baseball game
March 2016

Of course by the time I got to Bryan-College Station the Bushes had slowed down quite a bit and weren’t near as present in the community as they were for years prior. The only time I actually saw the Bushes during college was in March of 2016. It was a blissful spring day at Blue Bell Park and Texas A&M baseball was taking on the Yale Bulldogs.

As a light breeze filled the stadium and the sun beamed down – the sold-out crowd enthusiastically rose from their seats at the sight of President Bush entering the field to throw out two ceremonial first pitches – one to a Yale catcher, his alma mater, and one to an A&M catcher. In true H.W. fashion, he sported snazzy maroon socks, an A&M cap, and a Yale jersey. It was a beautiful day to welcome Mr. Bush back home to Aggieland.

Deep From the Heart: One America Appeal

Then about a year and half after the Yale baseball game, Hurricane Harvey roared into the Texas Gulf and overstayed its welcome, dropping 51.88 inches of rain on the Houston area and devastating many on the Texas coast. The Bush Presidential Library Foundation helped manage, Deep From the Heart: One America Appeal, a benefit concert at Reed Arena in Aggieland. It was a joint effort by all 5 former, living American Presidents to encourage citizens to support recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey. This event sold out in less than 24 hours and to-date this was the most overwhelmingly, patriotic, American event I had ever witnessed. I also had never seen so many men in black suits walking the grounds, peering over rooftops with binoculars, and being very clear about how that day’s operations were going to go. I’m sure there were also several others in street clothes listening to me comment about my amazement with it all.  

To set the stage, Lee Greenwood was the emcee and kicked things off with God Bless the USA. From Lyle Lovett, Lady Gaga, Alabama, to the Gatlin Brothers and several other notable artists, it was a truly wonderful and American experience. All 5 former, living American Presidents were in attendance and even spoke – it was a remarkable, memorable and historical night for sure. One America Appeal ended up raising 42 million dollars for hurricane relief that stretched far beyond Texas and Hurricane Harvey.

Lee Greenwood kicking things off with God Bless the USA – Reed Arena – October 2017 (0:46 is chilling when the entire arena stands up)

I believe this is just one of many testaments to the love and respect not only Americans have for George H.W. Bush, but other Presidents from all sides of the aisle as well. For one night, an audience of 5 American Presidents, 13,000 people and another 6.5 million who watched online put politics aside and came together for one great cause. Tho H.W. himself did not speak, the glee in his eye the entire concert as he and Barbara sat side by side, holding hands was enough.

Barbara’s Passing

The following April, H.W’s beloved Bar passed away. Students organized a candlelight vigil at the library that night, news crews rolled into town, sweet memories of the former first lady filled social media and throughout the next week pearl billboards honoring the Former First Lady popped up all around Texas and the US.

In the days leading up to her burial, it was quite fascinating to watch the logistics of preparing the library grounds and surrounding area for Mrs. Bush’s arrival – clearly security was the main focus and it still amazes me all the organization and planning that had to have gone into it all.

The following Saturday, the Former First Lady’s motorcade traveled down Highway 290 out of Houston and onto Highway 6 in Navasota before hitting Texas Avenue and George Bush Drive in College Station where crowds lined the sidewalks to pay their respects – many holding posters with kind farewell messages, while others waved American flags. The silence that fell over the crowd as the motorcade passed was chilling. I have never felt a greater sense of patriotism than what I experienced April 21st, 2018.

George H.W. Bush Passes Away

A few short months later on Friday, November 30th, George H.W. Bush passed away.

Much like what the town experienced after Barbara’s passing, news crews rolled in, the university began prepping the library and surrounding area, security was rampant, sweet messages flooded social media, and touching local stories filled town.  

I went out to the library two days later and spent the longest time I had ever spent there, about 3 hours. The majority of my time was spent in the room where they typically show a 20 minute film about Bush’s life and presidency, except they had exchanged it for the documentary, 41 on 41, which I highly recommend if you’ve never seen it.

As I exited the room and headed toward the museum, several people were signing the register, admiring the portrait of Bush at the front, or asking volunteers a multitude of questions. I had never seen so many people in the museum at one time. It was heartwarming to see many families with young children as parents explained the importance of their visit and answered questions inquiring young minds wanted to know as they meandered through the exhibits.

My last stop was outside to see his statue and to walk the Barbara Bush Rose Garden. Several people had put flowers on H.W.’s statue, while others pondered the quote etched on the side of the library from across the lake: “Let future generations understand the burden and the blessings of freedom. Let them say we stood where duty required us to stand,”, an excerpt from his 1991 State of the Union Address.

As I made my way around the lake, I began talking to a man in a suit for a few minutes about my frequent library visits and my fascination with the Bush family. Unbeknownst by me, turns out he was a reporter for KPRC News out of Houston as he started unzipping a microphone and saying he “liked that line” and would I mind being interviewed. Truthfully, I felt bamboozled. I never put two and two together that this man was a reporter.

Suddenly, I got a bit bashful – I find great joy in meeting and talking to people, but I’m pretty camera shy. However, I thought what an opportunity to talk about a person I have great respect for as my first live television appearance. So there I was, stating my name into the microphone and leaving it to the professionals to capture whatever it was they wanted me to say – unscripted and unprepared, two words not in my vocabulary. In all seriousness tho, it was a great honor to have the opportunity to talk about President Bush in one of my favorite spots in the Brazos Valley. (You can check it out my television debut here)

The next few days I watched everything unfold from his National service in DC, to his service back home in Houston. The anticipation of his arrival in Aggieland started becoming real when Air Force One flew over College Station after departing DC and before arriving in Houston. I believe everyone in College Station were outside their offices that afternoon – looking up at the gray, cloud covered sky as Air Force One jetted up above.

Welcome Home, 41

Though a gloomy, rainy, and cold day, Thursday, December 6th 2018, is a moment in history I’ll never forget.

Shortly after Bush’s Houston services concluded the 4141 funeral train departed Spring and began its 70 mile journey to College Station – passing through several communities where crowds lined small downtowns and rural roadsides.

Me and Mary waiting for the 4141 Train – Texas A&M University – December 6, 2018

Here in College Station, my friend Mary and I headed to Texas A&M’s campus around 1PM as we were unsure what to expect crowd wise to watch Bush’s train enter town – the 4141 engine was expected to arrive around 3:30PM. As we neared the intersection of George Bush Drive and Wellborn Road, a crowd was slowly growing. We found a spot directly across from the platforms where the Bush family would exit the train.

Soon after, an on campus organization with thousands of American flags handed us a couple as we began making small talk with the family next to us. This particular family was from McKinney, Texas and brought their two young children back to their alma mater so that they too could experience this historic event as a family. The dad was a former Marine who had great respect for the Bush family and the four had made plans to visit the library the next day when it opened back up. Another couple came from Burton, Texas and were incredibly sweet and just couldn’t believe we all got to be part of such a historic event. It was truly remarkable how fast complete strangers can be united because of one man.

As the eight of us and thousands of others stood peering across Wellborn Rd. at the railroad tracks anticipating H.W.’s arrival in the rain and cold – across the tracks, the Ross Volunteers, A&M Singing Cadets, and Aggie band began to congregate near the platforms. The motorcade arrived not too long after. Much like at the One America Appeal concert, you could look at the top of buildings and down the street and see several men keeping a watchful eye out for anything out of place.

Once we heard the DPS helicopter hovering up above, we knew the 4141 funeral train was near. To be totally honest, from this point forward, words to describe the feeling and emotion that swirled in my head and on the faces of thousands are hard to find. We had literally spent the last three hours in the pouring rain, but no sooner than we looked south down the tracks and saw the engine, did the rain stop and never return. Just amazing.

The once anxious crowd totally silenced. As the train putted along, George W. and Laura stood outside the train car and greeted the crowd with sweet smiles and sincere waves. At the sight of the Former President and First Lady, emotions for the crowd were hard to keep contained and cheers rang out for the Bush family.

4141 Train Coming into Town – at 0:52, you can hear the crowd begin to cheer and see W. and Laura waving

The most chilling moment was when W. was about to step off the train and the Marine next to us shouted, “We love you, George!”, and W. came back and waved one last time as the crowd erupted in cheer.

“We Love you, George”

Once the family exited the train, the Aggie War Hymn began playing at the request of Mr. President himself, much to everyone’s surprise, as they unloaded H.W.’s casket. What a testament that was to the A&M community of the respect Bush had for the school’s values and traditions. The 21-aircraft “Missing Man” formation that followed was absolutely breathtaking – especially when the last one jetted off from the rest, straight up into the gray, cloud-filled sky. Shortly after, the once packed crowd of thousands began to disperse as everyone headed back to their cars.

“Missing Man” Formation heading into the Sky

That day and the months that followed, I’ve reflected quite a bit. Even today, I continue to get chills when various snapshots cycle through my head of the emotion, patriotism, and pride clear as day on thousands of Americans faces during those few short hours. It was a historic day indeed as it reinstated the tradition of a President being transported to their final resting place by train that hasn’t been seen in almost 50 years – a tradition that followed the deaths of Lincoln, Grant, Garfield, McKinley, Roosevelt, Eisenhower…and now George H.W. Bush. What a memorable day it was for all.

Thanks to a friend who was further down the tracks where security wasn’t near as tight, I got a memento from the event, a flattened penny, courtesy of the 4141 locomotive…Thanks Andrew!

Final Resting Place

The following Sunday, the gravesite and library opened back up at noon, which was another cloud-covered, cold, dreary day. I went out there that afternoon and this time, there was a line to get into the library – a site I have for sure never seen. Hundreds and people had come to pay their respects and cleary from all over as I heard several different accents and even languages while walking the grounds. The museum was packed wall to wall with people and the trail to the gravesite had a steady stream of walkers. Once at the gravesite, I had to stand on a hillside to see around all the people.

One slightly funny encounter I had in the museum was a conversation I overheard. A lady asked an older gentleman, “Does George still live in Crawford?”. The man’s response, “Ma’am, George passed away.” All it was a simple miscommunication of which George Bush the two were referring to, but I had to smile.

Last Thoughts

…and here we are exactly 20 years later from the first time I visited the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum – reflecting and writing. The sweet couple I used to get so excited about seeing behind home plate at Minute Maid Park are the same ones that united strangers and brought generations together as we welcomed both of them back home to Aggieland one last time in the most patriotic, peaceful, non-political and beautiful way possible…not once, but twice in the last year.

Now that’s a leader, a man of character, and one who impacted a nation. My hope is that all Americans, especially younger generations will get the experience the great sense of patriotism I did on December 6, 2018 – I know it’s one I’ll long to feel again.

P.S. An excellent book that truly speaks to Bush’s character from the ones who protected him is, In the President’s Secret Service. This book covers several other President’s details as well, as agents discuss what it was like to protect and still protect our nation’s leaders. It is truly heartwarming to hear the kind remarks they have of the Bush family.

What a Guy!

During my time at Mays Business School I had the opportunity to hear from several business leaders and industry experts. I thoroughly enjoyed each one for their inspiration, motivation, knowledge and insight that they offered the class. However my favorite speaker was one that patiently sat on floor outside the classroom, reading the USA today, while eating a PB&J sandwich before class began.

When he entered the classroom to begin speaking a flood of memories entered my mind as I had watched this man stand on chairs, bounce on tables, whip money out of his pocket, and enthusiastically state, “Gallery Furniture saves you money, TODAY!” my entire childhood. That’s right, THE Mattress Mack, Jim McIngvale was speaking to my class of 20 marketing students that day and it was such an honor.

Mack speaks just as enthusiastically as he does on his commercials and is one of the most genuine, hardworking, and inspiring individuals I have had the opportunity to meet. His character is an example to us all.

Not to mention, he doesn’t watch any tv, unless it is sports, loves going to work each day, and puts customer service above all other aspects of business….three things hard to find in a person these days.

His unwavering attitude is an inspiration. He talked about when the man on duty at his warehouse called and told him it was on fire. Mack responded, “well, put the son of ***** out!” Mack soon learned it was much larger and the whole thing was pretty much engulfed in flames. When Mack arrived on the scene emergency personal told him to get away and Mack said, “if the ships going down, I’m going down with it”. After authorities threatened to arrest him, Mack backed off. Interestingly enough, the next day he had a speaking engagement. The organizer called him and said they saw what happened and that they completely understood if he was unable to speak the next day. He told them, “I said I was going to speak and I will be there”.

At the time I heard Mack speak, the 2016 presidential race was early on. He didn’t speak a lot about his political views, but noted that he had personally interviewed Donald Trump and was impressed. It is important to note at this time, no one thought Trump would ever become president of the United States.

Of course he had a lot of business knowledge to share, but I was so impressed with his character that naturally it made sense how he built a successful business. He is a humble guy with a heart for giving, as the entire nation watched during Harvey and Houston has for several years.

Mack is the best best speaker I’ve had the opportunity to hear and how could you not like a guy that is a huge advocate for MADE IN AMERICA!

What a guy!

Homework for the Holidays

Christmas is indeed in the air and the last thing any college student wants to think about is school. After all, you’re probably still recovering from finals…it’s been a tough few weeks of cramming, living off ramen and trying holding your tongue at group project meetings. I get it. The good news is, you have about 4 weeks to recoup before it’s back to the mines. It’s time to do whatever you’ve been looking forward to doing. Woo-hoo!!! But somewhere between visions of sugar plums dancing in your head and finding the perfect ugly Christmas sweater, set aside time to create the best Christmas present you can give your future, create a personal website.

Seriously.

You’ve spent the last four years putting yourself in a position that makes you marketable, now you’ve got to find a way to market yourself!

Unfortunately, we’ve been taught to print our resume on ivory resume paper, use Times New Roman font, not be too text heavy, not to use colors or designs and to sum everything up on one 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.

Amiright?

The point is, unless the hiring manager truly reads your resume we all look the same at first glance.

This bothered me that after all that hard work I was one of a hundred in a stack of papers. Nowhere could I showcase my personality, work ethic or most importantly for marketing majors….my creative side! I wanted a way to highlight my talents and set myself apart from the rest.

I expressed these frustrations to a mentor who turned around and gave me the BEST.ADVICE.EVER. when it comes to job searching– build a personal website. What a thought!

My personal website included everything a typical resume would (job experience, education, skills, honors/awards, and leadership activities), but I was also able to include an introduction (which included a link to my blog…. another great selling point), links to projects I did in college from role plays, research papers, to 60-page marketing campaigns and I could elaborate on my work experience and leadership activities. Not to mention the fun and professional theme used to express it all!

Since I built the website myself, I was also able to highlight my creative side and learn a new skill…. web design! This gave the reader a good sense of who I was, long before I had the opportunity to meet them face-to-face. You wouldn’t believe the positive feedback I received from mentors, various individuals in my “network” and most importantly, future employers. It truly made a memorable impression.

But the real value in building a personal website for me was….

It didn’t help me land a job, it helped me communicate my passions and interests and land a job I LOVE!

Ironically, I work for a web/app development and digital marketing company. I do anything from content marketing, branding, marketing automation, social media marketing, to frameworks for webpages. Shoot, everything I enjoy!

So this Christmas season when you’re warming your toes by the fire and sipping on some hot chocolate, pull out a pen a paper and begin creating content for your personal website, before you know it you’ll be live on the interwebs and impressing hiring managers left and right!

Job searching isn’t easy, but it can be fun! Give recruiters something to talk about!

Merry Christmas!

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS

I grew up following my mom around the house with a mountain of books and reading to her every chance I got…which was ALL the time considering she worked from home. My book collection was the equivalent of what a public library would have, but I always seemed to pick the same five books to read. One of which was Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go…one of Mom’s favorites as well! While she listened to every book I read there was something special about this book that wasn’t evident until recently.

The theme is simple; it talks about the journey of life and its challenges. However, I can only imagine the feeling a mother has as they listen to their child read this book…anticipating their child’s future, how their child will change the world and the uncertainties their child will face along the way, all while having this deep, yet simple book narrated by an innocent, optimistic, worry-free, five-year-old.

Now fast forward 16 years and that future is today, the opportunity to impact the world is here and that mountain of books I once read is now a mountain of uncertainties. For 21 years, I followed a set and simple path…go to school and get an education! That’s ALL I’ve known.

I knew if I performed well by the tests I took, the papers I turned in and the report cards my parents had to sign. There was a set measurement of success and each accomplishment advanced me to the next grade, next school and eventually my next “home away from home” …college!

Now post-graduation, there are no grades to motivate me to perform well, I have to find my own motivation and what excites me, there are no advisors telling me to sign up for five specific classes, only mentors offering me advice that I can take or leave and there is no way for my parents to track my progress, only the trust they have in me that I’m working towards my future!

Don’t get me wrong this is all wonderful and what’s supposed to happen when you become a college graduate, but it’s interesting when all sudden you become that funny looking person wearing a yellow onesie and a yellow hat to compliment and realize “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who will decide where to go.”

Crazy!

But not to worry Dr. Seuss didn’t steer us wrong and there is a lot of truth in this witty rhyme. I would encourage anyone in college, nearing graduation or recently graduated and feeling the pressure of this grown-up thing to not overthink it, grab a cup of coffee (just don’t make it black because we’re not that grown up) and pull Oh, The Places You’ll Go off your Mom’s bookshelf and prepare to be inspired!

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

Ring Day: One Year Later

Aggie Ring Day

The Aggie Ring to Aggies is what “The sultan of swat!”, “The king of crash!”, The colossus of clout!” …….“THE GREAT BAMBINO!” is to The Sandlot– as I sit here this morning on the eve of a Fightin’ Texas Aggie Ring Day, exactly one year after I received mine, I think about how excited fellow Aggies and soon-to-be ring wear-ers are right now. Heck I’m excited for them! The countless hours of studying/tutoring/projects/homework, numerous blistering hot days spent at Kyle Field BTHO whoever came to town and occasional visits to North Gate 😉 are all summed up into one little ring made of gold. It’s a symbol of where we have been and a token of achievement to take with us as we embark on adventures long after graduation from Texas A&M! WHOOP!

If you’re receiving your ring tomorrow, know someone who is or anticipating receiving one in the future and you’re feeling a bit excited right now, you’re not alone. Tomorrow is a great day to be an Aggie! Actually every day is. We anticipate receiving an Aggie ring our entire college career and some of us for a lifetime. It is a symbol of achievement, hard work, the ability to reach great heights and “the most visible symbol of the Aggie Network”. Whoa! Can you hardly stand it?

My Ring Day was no exception. September 25, 2015 very well may be one of my favorite days. Ever. The entire day was filled with excitement, family and friends…. what more could you ask for?

On that sunny, September day my family and I headed over to the Association of Former Students and battled the 100-degree weather, the masses of people and the thousands of camera flashes from every mom. By 2:30 I proudly sported that piece of gold that I wanted my entire life. I was finally part of THE network that is well known for spontaneous conversations between two total strangers, simply because we both have THE ring. It’s fair to say receiving my Aggie Ring is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments.

Now at the time, once I received my Fightin’ Texas Aggie Ring, I would joke that I didn’t need a diploma…. having this ring would be sufficient! Once again, this was a joke- personally giving up one semester short of graduation wasn’t an option and that mentality certainly wouldn’t fly with my parents, so I did receive a diploma 8 months later.

It was at that moment as my name echoed through Reed Arena, I stepped onto the stage in front of 12,000 proud Aggie family members, shook Dr. Jones’ hand as he handed me my diploma and hugged the line of professors who taught me over the past 3 years that I realized it was only the beginning for me and my Aggie Ring!

In the 2 short minutes that followed as I exited the stage, gave a wave to my family and stopped for a quick professional photo to document the event, a slew of emotions entered…. positive ones. The general synopsis of these emotions was that I have a whole future ahead of me that I can make whatever I want it to be. As I took my seat to watch the rest of the ceremony, I had a new appreciation and understanding of what the Aggie Ring means to me. So here’s my take…

The Aggie Ring isn’t something you dust off in 50 years and show your grandkids, it’s something we continue to wear even after it’s a little less shiny, worn down and not as defined. It’s a traveling journal of our successes, adventures and the people we meet- a tangible object of our journey through life. Sure it houses those great college memories, but it the ones that have yet to happen that makes receiving an Aggie Ring so special. Think about how you’ll feel in 50 years when a recent Aggie grad comes waltzing up to you, looks down to admire your worn down ring and asks what year you are—immediately you begin to tell your story. I can’t even fathom what I would say because I’m so excited about the future and what it holds.

A year ago, today was the near future for me. In 365 days my Aggie Ring and I have been though graduation, job interviews, offers and now my first job. WHOOP! Accomplishing this in a short time frame is thrilling to me and instills a curiosity into what’s up ahead. While I can’t forecast the future, I can assure you that the moment I was presented my Aggie Ring my story just began.

Tomorrow 4,300 Aggies will begin writing their story to share with future generations and I truly believe as Aggies we have a lot to offer this world! So…… be proud, give your ring a story to tell and embrace the fact that it’s just the beginning!

Congratulations Ags!

Gig ‘em & God Bless!

Shout-Out the the Aggie Moms

Tri-County Aggie Moms

If you ever want to feel like a million dollars…walk into a room full of Aggie Moms! You’ll be greeted with the biggest smiles, the biggest hugs and the biggest congratulatory remarks…..even if the most notable thing you’ve done recently was to wake up and walk into this room.

Allow me to back up. At the end of each semester and right before finals the Tri-County Aggie Moms and other various Aggie Mom Clubs throughout the state of Texas set up tables in the MSC and hand out goodie bags to all the Aggie students of the Moms. Each club has their own designated area and it’s neat to see the creativity each club puts into their goodies bags. You see anything from laundry bags, to coolers, to backpacks stuffed full of “goodies” that are sure to make us BTHO finals!

Now the Tri-County Aggie Moms Club is quite large and yesterday the last count I had, they handed out 135 goodie bags! Yes, 135! (Tri-County has a strong Aggie presence….WHOOP!) Even with a number that large, this is no downstream operation. As I sifted through my bag this evening I stumbled across homemade goods, notepads, pens, and what I consider the “good snacks”….like what you hoped you would find in your lunchbox in elementary. And of course you’re sure to find a koozie to keep that water cool while we study or for celebration purposes after finals are behind us…..it’s multipurpose! It’s fair to say our moms are the best! In fact, it’s pretty neat to walk into this huge room and see all the different tables and you just know to go to the one that takes up most of the room and has the most moms surrounding it.

But if for some reason you don’t spot the Tri-County Aggie Moms table immediately, one of the moms will spot you. Not just the Tri-County Moms, but every mom in that room keeps close tabs on who is walking through that door. Two seconds later you hear, “OHHHHHH LOOKS WHO’S HERE!!!! WE’RE SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!!!”….on and on and you’re greeted by a million hugs! Each semester I give my mom a hard time because I tell her handing out these goodie bags is so mom-ish.

By no means am I complaining, I love it! It doesn’t matter if it’s your mom and it’s expected…there is no replacement to seeing and hearing how proud your mom is of you! Seeing their energy gives me that extra push of motivation I need at this point in the semester. Not to mention they spent the previous evening putting together all these bags, woke up and drove 100 miles the next morning, and spend the entire day in Aggieland greeting each Aggie with just as much excitement as the previous. Y’all are the best!

Outside of the goodie bags, our Aggie Moms do a lot behind the scenes throughout the semester such as various fundraisers, socials, and dinners that honor scholarship recipients and graduating seniors. They play a vital role in making our college experience the best it can be.

Additionally, I feel that the Aggie Moms Club it is a great support system for each Mom. Some are empty nesters, some just sent their first kid to college, and others fall somewhere in between. I had the opportunity to speak at one of the Tri-County Aggie Mom meetings back in October and I attended the meeting in its entirety. Of course the sole focus was their college student(s) and you could even pay a dollar to brag on your kid! But a recurring theme that was prevalent throughout the meeting was the bond these moms share. They understand one another and are there to help one another, just another fine example of the uniqueness of being an Aggie.

So as I wrap up studying for finals, munch on some chips from my goodie bag, and reflect on the 6 Aggie Mom visits I’ve experienced and their constant support of me throughout my time in college I want to give a heartfelt thank you. We don’t always make y’all’s job the easiest, but y’all sure make it look easy!

Thanks and Gig ‘em to ALL the Aggie Moms!

Conversations Marketing Majors Have

Hump Day!

Three years ago I began my journey at Mays Business School or as us business majors like to call it, Wehner High. It doesn’t take long and soon you find yourself knowing everyone, attending class with the same 30 people and even forging what I forecast to be lifelong friendships. It’s fair to say I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Mays, but chuckle when I think about the conversations we, more specifically marketing majors, have during and outside of school. Of course we talk about our weekend plans, things going on in our lives, A&M sports and where we see ourselves in the future….but somewhere in the conversation we always relate the topic back to marketing. No, not to get a better grade (the professor isn’t even present) or to outsmart one another, but simply because marketing is so ingrained in our minds.

It’s actually quite amazing that at this point in our lives it doesn’t take a professor to tell us to pay attention to a certain ad, to watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, or to be in tune with the many marketing mavericks in the industry…..we process all the above on our own whether we consciously realize it or not.

One of the best things I’ve heard thus far is, “I hate how you know how the advertisement is trying to make you feel and you tell yourself I’m not going to fall for it….and yet you still do. It is so frustrating because you have all this knowledge, yet you’re still a consumer”. I certainly agree, you get caught up in the message and then you take a step back and you’re like, wait, wait, wait, I know what they’re trying to do here.

Nonetheless, the beginning of February is a big time for us as that is when the Superbowl is played and the $5 million, 30 second ads are revealed. Most people tune into the commercials because they are some of the best you will see all year, but they also use that time to heat up the queso, check their squares or to go to the bathroom, of course! However, as marketing majors we find ourselves analyzing the commercials’ message, thought process, brand alignment, target audience, content, on and on! By the end of the night not only are we stuffed with guacamole, but we are stuffed with loads of new and exciting talking points to share with our fellow marketing friends! We anticipate sharing our thoughts of the commercials on Monday and by the end of Monday we have relived watching the Super Bowl and have further analyzed every commercial. In fact, I believe it was just a few weeks ago that we finally stopped talking about Super Bowl commercials.

Outside of the Super Bowl, some of my favorite conversations about marketing have happened at Ring Dunks. Yes, Ring Dunks. We find ourselves analyzing the creativity behind the event names such as “White Men Can’t Dunk” or “Dunk it Ags”. Cheesy? Yes. But you’re sure to remember it! 😉  The custom t-shirts and decorations are always an added bonus to our conversations.

In addition to the Super Bowl and Ring Dunks, we pay attention to the banner ads on websites, spend excessive amounts of time crafting the “perfect” social media post, and get excited at the sight of novel and creative ads, but are the first to have an opinion about an advertisement gone bad. We are like the homebuilder who points out all the faults in a home he didn’t build, the electrician who notices a poor wiring job, or the server dining in a restaurant that critiques every mistake of the one serving them.

After all, everyone has a specialty and ours just happens to be marketing! We don’t mean to relate everything back to marketing and halfway through every conversation we take a step back and ask “are we really talking about this right now?” But in reality, it’s kind of hard to avoid because marketing is something that is present in everyone’s lives. In fact, it is often a topic of conversation among ALL people whether you realize it or not. Coworkers, friends, and even acquaintances discuss their favorite Super Bowl commercials (past and present), how annoying the Beggin’ Stripes advertisement with the dog is (“I’d get it myself, but I don’t have thumbs!….mmmm bacon! There’s no time like beggin’ time!”), or how we miss the Etrade babies……AND admit it, you’ve walked into the office on a Wednesday and said, “GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS?????” So it is not just the marketing majors who are fascinated by marketing….we ALL are!

Su[sport]ing the Ags!

Kyle Field- College Station, TX

In my three years of college I’ve attended 21 football games, 45+ basketball games, and by the time May rolls around I will have attended 60+ baseball games. It’s fair to say I LOVE Aggie sports! I attend just about every home game and if the timing is right I’ll take a road trip to Houston, Dallas, Waco, Fort Worth, etc, etc. to be a part of the action. It has been a lot of fun to follow Aggie sports with the greatest fans in the world…..The 12th Man! “Old Ags”, students, alumni, and future Ags share great enthusiasm for our Aggies and enjoy congregating at Kyle Field, Reed Arena, and Blue Bell Park on weekends and weekday nights!

I’ve got to watch history unfold with Johnny Manziel, be a part of the excitement of Regional baseball playoffs, cheer the Ags on in the NIT Tournament, and experience some of our most exciting Aggie moments in recent years….like when we took #1 Kentucky basketball to double overtime in 2015 or the 14 inning and 12 inning baseball games during a match up against Cal that included 3rd baseman, Ronnie Gideon running down a Cal player and making a phenomenal out at home, to hosting College Gameday during football season. Not to mention when the student body exploded when one of our own made the $5,000 half court shot. It has all been so fun to watch!

While I may be persistent at attending all home football, basketball, and baseball games I have attended my fair share of others sports as well. I even made my first soccer debut during halftime of the SEC Soccer Championship. I must say, not one of my proudest moments as if there is a sport I am least familiar with and most uncoordinated at, it would be soccer! I’m sad to report…..I got a running start……threw my left leg back…..shifted all my momentum forward…….and with a strong look of determination and focus I kicked the soccer ball. I watched it fly wayyyyy over the goal and smack dab into a fan….sad day. But that’s alright…..the Aggies won the Championship and I’d like to think I helped them win that victory…..from a cheering standpoint, certainly not with my soccer skills.

I look forward to watching the remaining few basketball games and post season excitement and I’m ready to watch baseball start their journey to the Road to Omaha!

School, Work, Sports…It’s a Full-Time Job!

Coed Softball Team

If you would have told me two years ago I would be working 25 hours a week, taking 13 hours of classes, playing tennis on Monday nights, playing intramural sports on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, bowling in league on Thursdays, and attending every Aggie sporting event, I would have said you are CRAZY! I’m not going to lie it’s tough at times to fit everything in and to give a 110% effort, but I have found that I work best when I am busiest. My highest GPAs have happened during the semesters that I packed all this in. I believe it made me realize how to efficiently and effectively allocate my time. I’m more productive when I know I have an hour to study as opposed to all day.

Additionally, I have gotten in a few routines to help avoid the stress of attempting to fit everything in when it just doesn’t seem possible:

1. The 5 AM Club- If you have read any business book or heard about the routines of successful business individuals you will find that the majority are a big advocate of waking up early and getting things done, “before the rest of the world is up”. I may not get up at 5 every morning, but I am up early enough to be productive before I head off to school or work since most other activities occur during the evening hours and that time is lost.

2. Hand write Class Notes- I used to type all my notes while the professor talked like most other students do. However, I found and it’s proven that if you hand write your notes you retain information better. I am a firm believer in this because now when I go to study for tests I don’t rack my brain trying to remember when we went over “all this stuff”. The information is retained much more naturally.

3. Review My Notes Every Night- I also got in habit of reading class notes when I get home from school. This has helped tremendously because when I go to study for tests I am just reviewing information. Based on my schedule of having classes twice a week and tests about every three weeks I would have reviewed notes from the first class 6 times, the second class 5 times, the third class 4 times, etc, etc. It makes studying a breeze!

4. Study Between Classes- I have 4 classes back to back on Mondays and Wednesdays, which means I have 20 minutes between each class. Given that all my classes are in the Wehner building…..some classes are even in the same classroom I don’t have far to go. Therefore, I have tried to make an effort to utilize that time to knock out homework, projects, or studying. If you think about it that’s 1 hour and 20 minutes each day, 2 hours and 40 minutes a week, and 10 hours and 40 minutes a month of either wasted or productive time…..all depending on how proactive I am 😉

Degree in Three!

Aggie Ring

During high school I was blessed with the opportunity to take numerous dual credit classes starting my junior year. I took advantage of every opportunity offered through the high school as well as taking summer classes. I mean why not? High schoolers aren’t busy (as much as we like to think we were), taking classes through the junior college is wayyy cheaper than the university, and you live at home! Anyways, I ended up starting A&M with 27 hours, which basically covered the majority of my basics. So my first semester at A&M I was able to dive right into business classes which sparked my interest a little more than the thought of sitting through basic English and History classes.

In the back of my mind I knew I would graduate college a semester early and possibly a year early. The farther I got in the more apparent it was that I would in fact be graduating a year early. Most people told me to ride out college for four years, enjoy it while you can, get a masters, the real world is tough, yada, yada….and all that may be true, but for me personally it wasn’t that I was in a rush to get out it was just the way everything worked out. I came in with a year worth of classes and took a normal full load each semester, so mathematically I would complete college in 3 years….there was no special trick to it.

So here I am wrapping up my last year of college and I could not be more excited. This excitement has overshadowed the fear of entering the “real world” and helped me transition my mindset from college to building my career. I may not know exactly what I’ll be doing in a few months and truth is, it most likely won’t be what I’ll do my entire life, but I know I will have a Marketing degree from one of the best business schools in nation, a drive to use it effectively, and a toolbox full of tools to be a valuable asset to my next employer.

So yes, on paper I got a degree in three years, but technically I’ve been attending college for five. (starting in highschool!)

The Aggies Takeover Nashville

Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman- Nashville, TN

I just got back from one of the neatest Aggie experiences ever. Saturday, Texas A&M Football played Vanderbilt in Nashville. Myself and some family friends made a trip out of this game. We flew out Wednesday night and were surrounded by the maroon and white the second we stepped foot in the airport. Aggie Rings shined off the industrial lighting, “WHOOPS” trickled down the security line, and fellow Ags that were once strangers became friends. This same Aggie comradery followed us on the plane, at baggage claim, at the hotel, on the streets in Nashville, at the Opry, and followed up at the football game, and on the plane back home. It’s fair to say the Aggies took over Nashville.

During the Grand Ole Opry I felt like the performers just wanted to hear the power of a receptive crowd because any mention of Texas, football, A&M, or Aggies deserved a “WHOOP” from the ALL Aggie sold-out crowd. In true Aggie fashion at the conclusion of the Opry we joined in unison at the singing of the Aggie War Hymn. We then made our way to the largest venue in downtown Nashville, Wild Horse Saloon, where we once again packed it to capacity and held Midnight Yell. While the others who were turned away due to fire code held their own Midnight Yell on the streets.

Saturday the Aggies filled Nashville streets once again and then headed over to Vanderbilt for some Fightin’ Texas Aggie Football. We arrived to campus in full force and in typical Aggie fashion we took over a parking lot for tailgating purposes and questioned if Vandy had fans or not because all we were seeing was maroon and white. Once in the stadium, our fans were 2 to 1 compared to Vanderbilt.

Sunday we all congregated in the Nashville airport and boarded our respective planes home, once again flying with ALL Aggies. We said our good-byes before parting ways back home in Texas and anticipated the next Aggie football game.

Speaking to the Moms

Tri-County Aggie Moms Meeting- LaGrange, TX

The other night, I spoke at the Tri- County Aggie Moms Meeting. I was excited to have this opportunity as in high school I competed at numerous public speaking contests and ever since I got to college I have had no reason to speak besides the occasional project presentation (not even sure if that counts). Anyways, I prepared my speech, practiced, arrived at the meeting, and was greeted by the most receptive crowd…..a room full of moms, Aggie Moms to be more specific. I believe I could have stood up there and not said two words and they still would have clapped. Gotta love moms.

However, besides the typical adrenaline rush during the speech and the “feel good” emotion that follows a speech when you get a round of applause I came to the realization that I was no longer speaking for an award and telling people what they wanted to hear nor was it a script that someone else had prepared. I was telling these moms what they needed to hear and from firsthand experience.

The general theme of my speech was finding an internship and what I learned from it. However, I didn’t just jump into how great of an experience it was and how everyone should do an internship and how once you complete your internship that magically qualifies you as on your way to a “bright future”.

Instead I thought about who I would be speaking to, Moms, who whether they admit it or not think about their children away in college 24/7. So I began back at the first semester of college when I along with most other freshman thought that college just wasn’t for me, the struggle of adapting to a new “independently-dependent” lifestyle, and that I failed my first college test ever. I saw the nods the in the room from the “veteran” college moms and the face of relief from the “new-to-college” moms. I then progressed to talking about getting involved and how creating a network of peers is so valuable before diving into the actual internship. I wanted to stress how it is all a process and your child is not the only one that can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was there.

Then the fun part began. I was able to show that we all grow up, figure it out, and march towards building our future. It was the most rewarding feeling to have middle age women taking notes on what a twenty year old was saying. I shared the different avenues I went through when finding an internship and the value in doing an internship.  My goal was not to make moms stop worrying about their children, but to reassure them that it’s all a process and they are not the only ones feeling the stress when their kids go off to college. My second goal was to inspire these moms to inspire their children to step out of their comfort zone and take a proactive approach in making the most of their time in college and laying a solid foundation for their future. Judging by the nods in the room and feedback after the meeting I feel like I met these two goals.

Ring Day

Aggie Ring Day

The Aggie Ring to Aggies is what the “The sultan of swat!”, “The king of crash”,
“the colossus of clout”…….“THE GREAT BAMBINO!” is to The Sandlot. We anticipate Ring Day our entire college career and some of us for a lifetime. It is a symbol of achievement, hard work, and the ability to reach great heights!

My Ring Day was no exception. September 25th very well may be one of my favorite days. Ever. The entire day was filled with excitement, family, and friends….what more could you ask for? Not to mention I took my parents by my place of work and introduced them to my colleagues and showed them around, something I was very proud of. We then headed over to the Association of Former Students and battled the 100 degree weather, the masses of people, and the thousands of camera flashes from every mom.

By 2:30 I proudly sported that piece of gold that I wanted my entire life. I was finally part of THE network that is well known for spontaneous conversations between two total strangers, simply because we both have THE ring.

Receiving my Aggie Ring is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments thus far!

 

LETTERing in Writing

Great MawMaw Melvin's Letters to Fred

I’ve had an interest in my family history for quite a few years now. Over the course of 3-5 years I have traced back our ancestry to our “home” country on all sides, did the whole DNA test, and reached out to distant relatives in the genealogy community that shared the same passion and common goal as myself. Through my research I found war heroes, newspaper headlines highlighting my family, and passenger lists from when my family sailed in to Ellis Island and began their life in America. I shared a new excitement with every record I found and the information was endless. However, one of the greatest discoveries I made was not through a census, passenger, or war draft record, but in an envelope that my family received after the passing of my great grandmother. In that envelope were farmledgers, WW2 ration books, and about 100 letters.

Those letters were addressed to my great grandfather from my great grandmother while she attended college at the University of Kentucky from 1928-1932. Wow! Best discovery ever. I was fortunate enough to know my great grandmother when I was a child, but it was the neatest thing to read about her college experience and have her personality shine through in those letters. Regardless of the 85 year difference from when her experiences took place to when I read about them I found myself drawing on many of the commonalities that I found we share. Our feelings about college are mutual, many college activities “back then” are still enjoyed today, and the struggles of adapting to a new “independently-dependent” lifestyle was prevalent in the 20th Century as it is in the 21st Century.

I found these letters the summer before I headed off to college and I pondered the thought of doing the same…..writing a letter home every week of college. Here I am, 75 letters in and I don’t regret it one bit. Some weeks writing a letter slips my mind and I tell myself I’ll just write “extra” next week. However this never holds true. Somewhere in the process of contemplating writing a letter home, I always find myself with a pen in hand and a stamp nearby.

I’ll admit I’m a little dramatic in my letters, but my parents look past it and find them quite humorous. Besides the joy it brings to my parent’s mailbox each week, it gives me the opportunity to reflect on my week. I think about everything positive that has happened, build on the negative, and assess what I’ve accomplished and what I need to accomplish in the week ahead.

It’s a priceless treasure for my parents today and treasure for me in the future. I’ll be able to open up 100+ letters and relive the emotions that I was feeling when various events occurred. So while writing letters is a lost art for many, it is alive and well for this college student!