Caitlin "Cait" Shields '11 February 21, 2018 3:19 PM updated: February 21, 2018 7:02 PM
A chartered A&M Club with The Association of Former Students, Northeast Tarrant County brought about 40 high school students to Aggieland this week to experience Texas A&M while considering where to further their education, said Club Vice President of Finance and Muster Chair Tracy Miller ’88.
“We do scholarships but we felt like there was a bigger need for a push for our community kids to come to A&M and do a tour and get a better experience from a campus tour than maybe they would get if they just came by themselves,” she said. “These are kids that, a lot of them wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go otherwise. We got sponsors so it was free for them.”
The Howdy Tour took the visiting students across campus to spots like Academic Plaza, Bonfire Memorial and the Quad. They were able to talk with a representative from Texas A&M Admissions and the Corps of Cadets, as well as members of the Aggie Network Student Ambassadors, a group of current A&M students that supports The Association.
“We ate lunch at Sbisa and we had a lot of current A&M students come join us and just answered questions and were able to talk to them about anything, where they go to church, [things] that they don’t even feel comfortable asking us,” Miller said.
The students, who had to undergo an application process to participate, made the six-hour round trip on their Presidents Day school holiday.
“It’s a commitment on their part because this [was] their day off,” Miller said. “It’s a long day for them. I’m excited that so many of them are excited about A&M. We said we were going to leave at 6:30 a.m. and all the kids were on the bus by 6:10. They were ready to go.”
This was the first Howdy Tour organized by the about 1-year-old Club, but Miller said it’s just the beginning.
“[These students] had no idea about the traditions and they had no idea about the A&M network,” she said. “My goal is to help foster that community within Northeast Tarrant County. It’s great for us to be an alumni club but I want us to be a club that we recruit kids from our community to go to A&M and [think about] what can do to help them with that, whether it’s the tour or whether it’s telling them more about A&M or what the admission process is. My whole [goal] is to make it a whole community effort, including upcoming Aggies and not just Aggies we have now.
“[I want] for us to be an extension of A&M locally."
The Club is looking at holding an informational event in Northeast Tarrant County aimed at including even younger students in their area to answer any and all questions about Texas A&M.
Above photo: A yell leader takes about 40 high school students from Northeast Tarrant County through a yell on the steps of the Quad.
“Sometimes it just takes a village and from that village we’re gonna be a vessel for A&M to be able to recruit more kids from our area,” Miller said.
Of the students who were able to come to campus, several, like 17-year-old Adrianne Brooks, a junior at V.R. Eaton High School, now have a clear picture of where they want to go once they turn the tassel on their high school years.
“I was really surprised how well we fit in. It felt like I was already a student here. Everybody’s so nice,” she said. “Pennies on Sully, that’s my favorite [tradition we learned about] because I’m gonna need all the luck.”
Ryan Bugai '17, coordinator of Former Student Programs at The Association, said facilitating activities like this inaugural Howdy Tour is his goal.
“My goal is to find a foolproof system of contacts through different departments so more Clubs can bring their high school students, to come and meet with whatever student organization they are interested in so they’re not doing a blind tour,” he said. “The students did enjoy it. Several decided this is where they want to attend college and they’re going to do their best to get in.
“Something like this really invigorates Aggies to give back and help them share their passion,” Bugai said of the effect this can have on former students through A&M Clubs. “It was a pretty cool thing to see.”
To get involved with a local A&M Club, visit here.
Local Clubs support Aggies all over the world. The Association of Former Students supports each of the 251 chartered Clubs. This support would not be possible without the generosity of The Association’s donors. To give back, visit tx.ag/give.
Ryan Bugai '17, coordinator of Former Student Programs at The Association of Former Students, talks to a group of high school students from Northeast Tarrant County at Bonfire Memorial.