Why it would be a better world if we were all from Texas A&M

I went to the University of Missouri.  My wife went to Baylor.  My oldest daughter goes to Oklahoma State.  I don’t own any maroon.  I am constantly, expectantly, lovingly, and annoyingly (cultishly?) interrupted by “whoop” anytime the word Aggie is mentioned.  I could go on and on about the many, easy-to-make-fun-of quirks that friends in College Station have, but the truth is we need more of what this university bleeds in every college and corner of our country.  The picture and post below from an A&M ethics professor compel me to not be an anonymous Aggie fan any longer.  I hope my other kids go there…or at least I hope what goes on there goes on in them.

Aggies…you have my honor freely given.  Whoop.

The picture above looks innocuous enough. Students are often in line—waiting to get into an exam or a class, waiting for tickets to a football game, waiting for a bus. But this line was different. Without my knowledge, my TA emailed my class and told them she would have a get well card for my wife, who has been challenged with heart issues over the last few months. What you see is my TA’s snapshot of the 30-minute-long line that ensued.

These students are currently in my class. Except for one or two, I have only known them for four weeks, and I am still learning names and faces. They have never met my wife, and they know her only by her official title, The World’s Most Beautiful Woman. We have not mentored them or invested in them. In fact, I have not even given them an exam yet.

What you are seeing expressed is honor. Honor is why we blow Silver Taps every month to remember fallen Aggies and why we softly call the Muster. I saw it last Saturday night at Kyle Field, as the entire stadium rose to honor the oldest living Aggie. I saw it even more intensely as everyone rose to applaud for a small group of disabled veterans who were sitting in the end zone bleachers. And the crowd repeated it, section by section, as those veterans moved by on their way out of the stadium in the second half.

Honor, freely given, is a powerful antidote to cynicism. I have observed that one of the characteristics most frequently mocked by detractors of A&M is our unflagging optimism, even in the face of contradictory evidence. I teach professional skepticism to young auditors like the ones you see standing in this line, so it is easy for me to let skepticism devolve into cynicism. But the experiences of my life since coming to Texas A&M have changed me, and I think for the better.

I am looking harder to find the good in things, and I am reconsidering my views when they are not well-informed. I am sitting still more often and taking a step back, rather than immediately trying to solve everyone’s problems. When I receive criticism, it still hurts, but I am less likely to lash back at the critic, and more likely to consider how I should change.

I do not mean to imply that being here has fixed my character problems. (If you cut me off in traffic, I will probably still honk.) But it has undeniably made a difference in my life. These voluntary expressions of honor—by my TA in arranging a card, by my students standing in line—have made it impossible for me to just careen into being a grumpy old professor.

Today I am trying to figure out ways that I can do things better and make the classroom experience richer for my students.

I keep going back to that picture of the line. What do you see there? Boredom, texting, a smile or two, conversation. What do I see?

I see the reason I invest my life at Texas A&M.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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64 thoughts on “Why it would be a better world if we were all from Texas A&M

  1. Love this. I grew up among many Aggie relatives, my grandfather, two Uncles, an Aunt, a legacy from my great-grandfather. I didn’t fully “get” A&M until I was there as a student. Have witnessed many folks being honored like this professor writes about and it just makes me so proud/tear up every time. The most sacred traditions at A&M are the ones that do honor students, current and past.

    The experience that made me most proud to be an Aggie was when my family met up in College Station in April 2010 to honor my grandfather who suddenly passed away that year. It was an incredibly meaningful experience for all of us, even the non-Aggies in the family. If you ever get a chance to go to Aggie Muster, especially in College Station, do it. I am not sure there is anything else like it.

  2. Brit, I LOVE what you wrote! If you’ve never been to a game in Kyle field, or to Silver Taps, I highly recommend going. It is so true: From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, from the inside looking out you can’t explain it! God Bless Texas A&M and Aggies. May you always stand for what is good and true and right in this world. Thanks and Gig ‘Em!

  3. I had Dr Shaub as a professor, he absolutely deserves a 30 min line. Every year he invites his graduating students out to his house for a dinner. He makes such a personal investment in all of his students, I’m so glad current students see this in him as well.

  4. This is one of the many examples that make me proud to be an Aggie. I truly feel that going to A&M made me a better person through everything I was able to be a part of such as silver taps, muster, midnight yell, fish camp, etc. It is about being a part of and caring about something bigger than yourself. Whoop!

  5. Thank you for sharing you view of Aggieland. I have my own, formed over a quarter of a century living with my favorite Aggie (a reasonably civil engineer – except when he’s cheering on his favorite team). And we have a Zip in the FTAB this year, so I’m prejudice – I admit it. I think Texas A&M is one of the best places on this earth. Best wishes for your wife and you.

    Aggie Wife/Aggie Mom

  6. Thank you for taking the time to write this. We Aggies are a little different because of our pride, our love for each other which we call Aggieland, and the integrity that is still ingrained in most Aggies. It is contagious, and we say it is impossible to explain. And it really is, but you have shed a bright light on it for us. It’s what is in our hearts that make us Aggies, and your heart has bled a little maroon. Aggies. God love ’em! We are one!

  7. This post brought tears to my eyes. It means a lot when someone who did not attend A&M says the things you said. I didn’t know how much being an Aggie would change my life. I am a better person, for sure, because I attended A&M. I am one of the many the chose to come back to A&M to raise my family because you just can’t find any place like it anywhere else in the world. My husband isn’t an Aggie, but he works for A&M and he now bleeds maroon. Glad your blood is bleeding maroon, too!
    Gig ’em,
    Stephanie ’94

  8. Whoop!!! We are the Aggies, The Aggies are we. True to each other as Aggies can be!! So happy to be an Aggie, Married to an Aggie and have two Aggie sons. Thanks to God for providing us all the opportunity to be a small part of Aggieland and keep these types of traditions going.

  9. Thank-you for sharing. I am mom to a sophomore Aggie. I constantly pick on her about having drunk the kool-aid and swear to not buy another thing that says A&M on it other than her diploma. This validated the comfort I feel knowing she lives among, has been/is being taught by, and is growing into one of these honorable and inevitably maroon-clad zealots.

  10. Thanks for sharing this with me Renee! Y’all are making me wish I had gone to A&M now. Can I claim to be an Aggie if I’m dating an Aggie? 🙂

  11. I’m so glad to see Dr. Shaub honored this way. He is hands down the best professor I ever had. My only regret is that I took his class in the summer so I only had him for 5 weeks. At the end of every semester he invites every student over to his house and prays over all of them. He says “if you ever need anything, even years down the line, please call me.” and you can tell that he really means it. I agree with several others that have said that they a better people because they went to Texas A&M and I would extend that to say that I’m a better person for knowing Dr. Shaub.

  12. Whoop! I am so proud to be an Aggie, and loved this story. I am not suprised – if you have been around Aggies much you know their loving spirit – however this does warm my heart. Prayers for God’s blessings for you and your wife – you must be something special!

  13. I’m not an Aggie. I’m a University of Georgia baccalaureate (yes, Aggies do know what that is), and have a post-grad degree from UT here in Austin. I don’t know all that much about your campus, nor your manifold and interesting traditions, nor their family ethos. What I do care very much about is the high caliber you represent graduating there. If you’ve met an Aggie you didn’t like, check again. They likely graduated from some other A&M. Aggies, I know you do care very much about your campus, your traditions, and your family ethos. That is part and parcel of what you are all about. But…all I see when I think about TAMU is the graduate in front of me, and, believe me, that is enough.

  14. Todd, your words always inspire and humble me every Sunday, so I am not surprised to have that same reaction here on your blog.

    I am so proud, and so blessed to have gone to A&M. Kind words about us are sometimes rare, but when they happen- it means so much. So very much.

    Thanks so much for that post. God Bless you and your family.

  15. Whoop! Class of 95. This is the place I first recognized the difference between knowing about God and having a relationship with Him. You teach frequently about the value and importance of community. This is something A&M has “mastered” in when it comes to their student body. Truth speaks whether we recognize the source or not.

  16. whoop:) Thanks for writing this. I hope others can continue to see what the Aggie Spirit & Aggie Family is all about 🙂 class of 2011

  17. another word for this is called respect. It is severely lacking in our society. My kids go to a high school, where their principal insisted on respect. You will be amazed how much people really want this in their lives..young and old alike!!

  18. This was posted on Facebook today in an Aggie Parent group.
    First, I hope your beloved wife is well.
    My husband & I have sent our son to TAMU. Extended family members thought we were nuts, certifiably NUTS. I never could put my finger on exactly WHY he felt so at home on our visit, it was surreal. But I’d like to think it was exactly what you eloquently described.
    I am a proud Alumna of Agnes Scott College. A college that takes enormous pride in our Honor Code, our sisterhood & our strong alumnae network. We all come together to support each other in our endeavors.
    Hey, wait, that describes TAMU…
    My son found what he spent his entire life hearing about…a true Alma Mater…a college home.
    If more parents & students truly thought about finding a college home, and equally colleges thought about supporting students…instead of prestige of window decals, or even cost of attendance…more students might have similar experiences to our Aggies.

    • Sorry this made you ill. Not sure if was the last post or the entire thing, but perhaps after you are feeling better and have time to mature, you will understand what has been said here by many- Texas A & M is a unique University. No one said other schools are not good. But they all acknowledged that A & M is special- over 140 years of military service to this country, values, honor, and loyalty- loyalty for all things Aggie! Perhaps some day you will get it and not be so petty with silly remarks. Feel better soon!!!

  19. I can only add another “Whoop”. My husband was in the band and graduated in 1963; both daughters have gone to A&M and I have one son-in-law who went there. You can’t beat it. The USNA and Westpoint might equal it, but never beat it. Jessie Waters needs to come to A&M for comments.

  20. I entered TAMU 50 years ago as a fish in the FTAB. My years there shaped the rest of my life and I felt blessed to have had the privilege of attending. Like a lot of former students, I began to worry what would happen to our school over the years with the expected growth and changes that go with that growth.No need to worry. It’s just gotten better and we still take care of our own!!

  21. I am an alumni of Baylor. Had two daughters that choose A&M. Thought it would kill my mother. She begged – and one daughter was offered a scholarship to Baylor — wouldn’t go. Well she graduated with a degree in education and married a young man that was graduating from Sam Houston State in education. Much to my surprise A&M was having a job fair and she asked if she could bring her husband. She explained he was NOT an Aggie. She was told if he married an Aggie he’s part of our family and of course he can attend. They surely have something other school do not have.

  22. Bringing tears to my eyes, and chill bumps everywhere else! I grew up an Aggie, with down-to-earth Aggie values, graduated there, and will be a proud Aggie until I die. And hopefully, beyond!

  23. My friend Laurie, her husband Jim and kids Auggie and Riley are shining examples of this type of character. I’m proud to call them my Aggie friends!!!! While I could never afford a school like this, it is a pleasure to be able to be around them.

  24. I am a (Longhorn) grandmother of two Aggies, and I can assure you that my formerly all orange blood is now greatly tinged with maroon. In fact, I shed a few tears when the Aggie war hymn was played at our granddaughter’s recent graduation

  25. Every time I return to A&M, I see all the changes and miss the days when even the students could park on campus. How wonderful to know some things haven’t changed. Long live the Spirit of Aggieland!

    (Linda Wrenn Yezak, class of ’85)

  26. Amen and Gig Em! Blessings to you, your wife and those sweet fightin Texas Aggie students!! Our son is there now and we gp back each Fall..You’re in a blessed place with rich tradition and honor…
    Senae Farrar- TAMU class of 94!

  27. This is why when my dear brother, a ’68 graduate of Texas A & M, was critically brain damaged in a car accident in 1981, my husband and I help him stand through most of the A & M – SMU game in fall of 1981. Those two hours were two of the best hours of the last two years of his life. Five years after his too early death, one of his friends from A & M, in talking to a group of high school seniors, chose to talk about my brother as the person who most embodied the Spirit of A & M. Even now, this brings tears, as nothing would have made my brother happier. Here’s to you, Scotty, Whoop!

  28. May God bless and keep you and your wife! — From one of an Aggie family of 18, or is it 19? The first was my grandfather (1924). I was the first woman in my family who attended (Former Student 1971). Hopefully, my grandson will attend. He will be Class of 2024; 100 years after his great great grandfather. Gig ‘Em!

  29. I share the sentiments of the professor and so many of the non-Aggie responders…this kind of brotherhood/sisterhood/community spirit defies explanation. I have only been on campus twice but the spirit certainly seems to be there even when few people can be seen walking around. The War Hymn and Aggie spirit shown for others bring tears the eyes of this non-Aggie. I even have a hard time cheering against the Aggies when my Red Raiders (our family school — and where my professional degree
    comes from) play them. I have had several Aggie friends and even the “cynical” have a warm place in their hearts for all things Aggie. Bottom line…I admire what Aggies have and seen much of that in my own alma mater (baccalaureate). Nothing matches this at present.

  30. I am an Aggie Grad, Class of ’60. My Father was an Aggie Grad,Class of 1923.
    When I graduated, their were 7000 student Cadets, ALL Men.
    We looked forward to Military Service first, then our career in the field of our studies.
    I am so proud of where A&M is today.
    Women have made it what it is today!
    I still wear my ring and attend a ’60 Class meeting monthly.

  31. A&M made a huge impact on me and I believe is one of the main reasons of my success not only on business, but in life!! Whoop! Class of ’80

  32. My youngest daughter is officially an Aggie! We just finished NSC. I left in awe. So organized. So impressive!