Last week I packed up my things and said goodbye to my undergraduate career. Packing an entire house full of furniture and clothes from four years of college and putting it onto a U-Haul is stressful to say the least. Tomorrow I will no longer be a resident of Texas, and will begin my law school career in the Midwest.
Building up to the big move, I was extremely excited to start a new chapter of my life. The thought of living in a completely different area, hundreds of miles from home excites me; I definitely contracted the disease they call wanderlust. Yet, as the night before moving from College Station approached, a looming sense of sadness took over.
If you didn’t know, I am an extremely sentimental person; I find emotional value in a variety of things. For me, Texas A&M and College Station have aided in my development for four straight years. So, leaving a town and empty house was more like leaving an era; a piece of me. If you’re Harry Potter literate, it’s as if I had made my own little Texas A&M horcrux.
If you don’t know anything about my alma mater, you might refer to it as a “cult” or just simply think we’re crazy fans. To be quite honest, I was once in your shoes, and then I experienced what the Aggies called “the Spirit that could ne’er be told” and I finally understood. This understanding is what made my time at A&M so full of deep relationships and personal growth. This “Spirit” is what taught me how to be connected with such a strong bond to over 50,000 people on one campus, and over 600,000 living alumni across the globe. This understanding is what causes me to write this, and what caused my tears to flow as I said farewell to the life that I knew and loved so much for four wonderful years.
As they teach us Aggies at Fish Camp, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand and it, and from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” I can attempt to explain to you why I love Aggieland so much, but until you attend a Silver Taps ceremony, Muster, or even an Aggie football game, my words will seem hollow.
Although Fish Camp ignited this passion, my first defining Aggie experience was one of the first Silver Taps ceremonies I attended. If you’re not an Aggie or are not aware, Silver Taps occurs once a month in Academic Plaza (the heart of campus) and is a ceremony that honors current students who have passed away. At 10:30 P.M., thousands of students gather in the plaza in silence. As the families of the fallen enter the center of the plaza, the Ross Volunteers march in to a silent and slow cadence. Although there are thousands gathered, the only sounds that can be heard are the crescendo of synchronized footsteps as the cadets slowly reach the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross and the soft tolls of the Albritton Tower to the songs of How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. Those who have passed away are remembered by rifle volleys and a special rendition of Taps known as “Silver Taps”. The ceremony usually lasts about 30 minutes, but the somber atmosphere lasts much longer than that. The first Silver Taps I attended it started pouring down rain, yet the same amount of people came and not a single person moved.
In a world that seems to be highlighted by criminal acts of hatred, Texas A&M is a shining beacon for hope. Students are taught to lead and serve selflessly, respectfully, loyally, and to do all things with integrity and excellence. The traditions at Texas A&M revolve around these values. Traditions like Silver Taps and Muster are examples of how Aggieland is so incredibly different than other major universities. Because A&M is so different, it is so easy to fall in love with.
On my graduation day, the thing that made me cry wasn’t receiving my diploma, but rather the moment when my Aggie ring was turned to face the world. In those few short seconds of turning my ring around, it felt as if time had stopped. All of the experiences I had, the friends I had made, and the close connection that I had developed with this school flashed before me, and it was all leading up to this moment. Now, I joined the rest of the 600,000 people who call themselves former students. If I had graduated from any other university, this would be the time that I would have called myself a “has-been”, but at Aggieland we have this little thing called the Aggie Network.
As I packed up all of my things in College Station and prepared to leave my home for the past four years, the tears definitely began to flow. I had to say goodbye to the place that was so incredibly special to me, and I wasn’t ready for it. I took my thoughts to Twitter and posted a final selfie in my house. Then, something amazing happened.
I was reminded by my own university that this wasn’t a goodbye. That’s not how being an Aggie works. Being an Aggie is about being apart of a bond so strong and special that it doesn’t end until your name is read at the Muster roll call. Being an Aggie is about giving of time and resources to others simply because they’re Aggies too. Texas A&M teaches its students a valuable lesson about how to be servant-hearted, and that goes with us until we reach the grave.
Yes, someday I will be that person that’s 85 and still goes to the football games. I pray that my kids and my grandchildren will not just want to go to A&M because I went there, but because they will see who it has made me become.
To the current students and students to come: growth and time do not have to change the things that make us fundamentally different: our traditions. It is up to you to keep these alive. Do all that you can to see to that. In the mean time, I hope South Bend is ready for a bit of maroon because needless to say, I will be taking some with me.