Six years, countless hours of work and play, and many, many friends later, I am writing the closing paragraph of my chapter at Texas A&M University. This is a hard thing to write, right now, because it’s very difficult to imagine anywhere else on the planet as inspiring, challenging, rewarding, and just downright special as this campus. I have now officially finished my last semester of classes at Texas A&M, having spent 12 semesters here, and almost a full quarter of my life calling College Station my home. Forgive me, but I feel like this is a good time to reminisce.
So many times over the last six years, I have answered the question, ” What brought you all the way down to Texas A&M?” And despite the standard answer of, “The animal science program,” I actually really don’t know. All that can be said of the reason I ended up in central Texas is that God really does know what He is doing. Texas A&M is a place so unique, that Aggies have developed our very own method of attempting to describe the atmosphere here:
“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”
There are so many reasons I love Texas A&M, I cannot write all of them down. Texas A&M is so much more than just a school in Texas. Coming from Alberta, I had no concept of the level of school spirit I would encounter- and I am not just talking about in sporting events. At home, it seems that it doesn’t matter so much what school you attended, it just matters whether or not you have a certificate or degree that says you learned something. That is not the case at Texas A&M. Here, it matters not that you went to school, but the “where” is vital. If that “where” is Texas A&M, you are following in the footsteps of World War heroes, leaders in business, energy, and agriculture, and national and international politics. Texas A&M boasts 450,000 alumni in one of the most dedicated and active alumni associations around- and we are dedicated and active because we have a deep-seated allegiance to a school which provided us with so much.
Texas A&M is a special place because of the attitude of the Aggies on campus. Where else do you find 22,0000 college students lining up for hoes and shovels on a Saturday morning, so they can be a part of the largest college service day in the nation? Aggieland. Where else can you find thousands of students worshiping together every Tuesday night of the semester? Aggieland. What other school holds a memorial ceremony every month for those among us who have passed away? What other school has a reunion every year, where alumni and current students who have passed from our ranks are immortalized by echos of “Here” when the role is called? On whose hands but Aggies can you find class rings so worn and old that the original design is completely indistinguishable, yet, when seen by another Aggie, will prompt many handshakes, smiles, and tales of undergrad escapades? Only in Texas, and only in Aggieland.
I am a member of this fraternity of alumni, but as important as the network is, it still pales in comparison to the people I made this journey with. The friends I have made, all of whom, at some point or another, welcomed me into their homes and families and hearts with not even a second thought. These are the people I am leaving, even more than the school. While I will physically be far away from them, they will always be no more than a phone call, or a plane ride away. The young men and women I competed alongside on the collegiate meats team are more valuable to me than all of the money in the world, and the change they worked on me as a person is indescribable. The professors and teachers who ensured that my studies never got in the way of a proper education showed me that agriculture is hard, it is challenging, and it is thankless, but someone has got to do it. These are the people who truly equipped me to live a life that makes a dent, and these are the people who will live forever in my heart as some of the most honest, hardworking, kindest, smartest, and faithful friends and mentors I will ever know.
While I am incredibly saddened by the promise of departure, I am heartened knowing that Texas A&M is something I will always be proud of. Leaving is so much harder than it needs to be, but Texas A&M has equipped me to enter the world and make a difference, change my community, and challenge the status quo. I entered A&M with a mind to farm quietly, but that plan was shaken up and torn to pieces. This world demands much of us, it demands that we do what we are enabled to do to make it better and keep moving forward. Texas A&M has prepared me for the highs, but even more, it develops a drive in all it’s students to march through the low points. Challenges are universal, and we will all encounter them. A&M has encouraged me to power through them, to deal with them, and to succeed despite them. How? Well, there’s a spirit can n’er be told that emboldens Aggies around the world to live out the six characteristics that define Texas A&M:
Excellence – set the bar.
Integrity – character is destiny.
Leadership – follow me.
Loyalty – acceptance forever.
Respect – we are the Aggies, the Aggies are we.
Selfless Service – How can I be of service?
From the day I stepped foot on campus as a freshman, I was held to these standards. At that time, they were more extreme than anything I had ever held myself to, and they challenged me, and scared me. However, now, two degrees and six years later , they have enabled me to face the world at large honourably, with my head held high, and they have pushed me on to bigger and better things.
Thanks, and gig ’em, Ags.