Bailey McCracken '18 February 19, 2018 10:33 AM updated: May 16, 2018 3:48 PM
Most Aggies can hardly wait a few semesters to finish their 90 hours and order their Aggie Ring. For Jan Weston ’18, the wait to earn her Aggie Ring and diploma has lasted more than 45 years, and she is just as eager as the day she stepped on campus in 1972.
Weston began dreaming of becoming an Aggie at the age of 6. Her father, Ted Claycomb ’49 a World War II veteran and proud Aggie (pictured at right with wife, Joan, and their collie, Lady, in the fall of 1947 on the steps of their College Station home), did his best to encourage that dream. “He would take us every year to a game in College Station,” she remembers. Claycomb was an agriculture teacher at Royse City High School, but he took on extra work to be able to afford the trip to Aggieland. “It took $100 to get us down there. He would work in the cotton gin for 100 hours—because he made a dollar an hour—to take us to a game, and to maybe get a T-shirt and go out to eat, which was a big deal for us.”
In the fall of 1972, she was among the first students to move into the university’s first dorms for women, the newly constructed Dunn and Krueger halls. Members of the Corps of Cadets came out in droves that move-in day to welcome more females than the campus had ever seen. While she was accepting help with her baggage from a sophomore cadet, his upperclassman swooped in, told the sophomore to “get lost” and spent the rest of the day helping Jan move in. This upperclassman was Benjamin Weston ’74, and two years later, Ben and Jan were married, only a week after Ben’s graduation.
Jan Weston followed her husband as he commissioned into the U.S. Army. Having only just completed her sophomore year at A&M, she finished her bachelor’s degree at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University-Commerce) and later earned a master’s degree in history from West Texas A&M. The Westons settled in Amarillo, and she became a beloved teacher at Randall High School, where she still teaches pre-AP geography.
As years went by, Weston still dreamed of earning her own Aggie Ring, just as her father had done. She reminisces on the moment of reflection that caused her to begin turning that dream into reality: “I was on the treadmill one day, and I thought about that verse in Psalm 37:4 that says ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart,’ and I just thought, ‘Lord, my desire, if there is any way, can I graduate from Texas A&M?’”
“My principal would ask me, ‘I see the Aggies are playing at home this weekend; are you going to be sick on Friday?’ And I’d say, ‘Why yes, I think I will be!’”
Weston found an online master’s degree program in educational psychology, took the GRE, and got to work. She would teach all day, then stay in her classroom—sometimes until 9 p.m.—reading and writing research papers. She made time each semester to drive nine hours to College Station to meet her professors. She and Ben (pictured together, left, at Kyle Field on a 2013 game day) also made time for a little Aggie football. “My principal would ask me, ‘I see the Aggies are playing at home this weekend; are you going to be sick on Friday?’ And I’d say, ‘Why yes, I think I will be!’”
While the journey has not come without struggle, Weston has the wholehearted support of her community at Randall High School. She enlisted help with her statistics courses from her high school’s calculus teacher. Her teenage students helped her navigate the online aspects of her degree. She worked a week ahead to ensure that if something came up, such as basketball games or teacher appreciation nights, she could be there for her students. After a fall in the classroom that broke six of her bones, Weston not only pressed on with her studies but was nominated by her students for the Teacher of the Year award.
Her father, who worked so hard to treat her to an Aggie T-shirt just once a year, would certainly be proud of his daughter’s Aggie Spirit. A Fulbright Hays Group Scholar, she spent a month in Siberia with semi-nomadic yak herders. “If you’re ever looking at National Geographic and see Mongolians wearing Aggie T-shirts, it’s because I pass those out wherever I go,” she says. “Whether on mission trips to China, or on school trips taking her students to Ireland and Spain, Weston brings a stack of Aggie T-shirts to hand out to anyone she meets. Randall High School has “college colors day” each Wednesday, and her students joke that she’s never worn the same Aggie T-shirt twice.
“This is more exciting than my wedding day!”
That Aggie Spirit made its way down to Aggieland on Janurary 12 as Weston, sporting one of her many maroon T-shirts, finally ordered her Aggie Ring. “This is more exciting than my wedding day,” Weston said after checking in at the Aggie Ring Office. Along for the trip were two of her sisters, Karen Walker and Christi Gates ’17. Gates, who enrolled in the same master’s program with Weston in 2015 and graduated last year, proudly wore her own Aggie Ring to the appointment.
Being in Aggieland again was a special occasion for the daughters of Ted Claycomb ’49. They couldn’t help but tear up as they told stories about their hardworking daddy on those memorable trips to Aggieland. On the occasions the Aggie football team ran out of time, the Claycomb sisters remember their father saying, “Hold your head up, girls. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of—because you’re Aggies.”
Karen Walker, Jan Weston '18, and Christi Gates '17, at Jan's ring appointment. The three sisters, daughters of Ted Claycomb '49, took a road trip to College Station for Jan's big day.
“I cannot separate the love for my school from love of family.”
Jan Weston’s Aggie dream began way back in 1972, but the years in between did not dampen her Aggie Spirit. In April, at Aggie Ring Day, she will at last don the symbol of her achievement, a little gold ring with the Class year ’18. Her sisters will again join her (with the addition of the fourth Claycomb sister, Nancy), as will her husband, Ben, who will present her with her Ring. “A&M is a member of my family,” she says. “I cannot separate the love for my school from love of family.”
Looking back at the 45-year delay between her first days at Texas A&M and her graduation date coming up in May, Jan has no regrets. During that time she lived a full life her father would be proud of, yet never gave up on her dream to earn that piece of Aggie gold.
“I wouldn’t change one thing,” Weston said with a smile, “Just now, I feel like God has given me a chance to do both."