As you may have realized by now, A&M is very unique in terms of tradition. Many of us graduate students come from a different undergraduate institutions or even from another country making the connection to this institution a little bit more challenging than coming as an undergraduate freshmen or transfer student.
I’m no exception, the hardest thing for me for quite some time was to say “HOWDY” out loud. I resisted way more than I should’ve to be part of the A&M traditions and culture and I wish I had gotten involved with the university earlier.
Some of the traditions I was able to participate during my time here were Midnight Yell Practice, Ring Day, Muster, and Silver Taps, to mention a few. All those were great experiences that encompass the Aggie Core Values and Spirit and I am glad I was able to participate.
Many of the greatest involvement opportunities I have had throughout my two years at this wonderful institution have been through my positions in the Division of Student Affairs and my program SAAHE. I first started by going to the first Midnight Yell Practice with my cohort classmates and did we know the yells? Not really, with the help of our ‘redass’ friend Carly and the yell lyrics, we made it through and it felt awkward I am not going to lie, but it was an amazing experience. Later on, I decided to volunteer some of my time as a support staff for Midnight Yell Practice and Family Yell during Family Weekend. Both amazing experiences that allowed me to take a step back from the actual event and see how spirited the people who attend these events are.
I attended the first Silver Taps during my first semester as a graduate student and the silence and darkness present in the event gave me perspective and made me realize of how much this community would do for me if I was every in that situation. Later on, through one of my classmates, I was able to help translate the Silver Taps communication documents for families to Spanish, which is my native language. As I was translating the document that described what Silver Taps was, I found myself in tears because I acknowledged what this actually said in my language and how much this may mean to the families of the students. Truly, this has been one of my most humbling experiences at this institution.
Moving along the year, we experienced tailgating at the Vice President’s house and a football game, which is definitely not something I am familiar with as you know in Mexico, and the rest of the world, we mostly watch soccer which is the real football [End of petty comment]. The idea of standing up the whole game to represent the 12th
man is extremely fascinating to me. Granted, I was never able to do a whole game standing up but just the idea of it and the fact I tried taught me the lesson that I would not like to do that again, so if I ever come back I will sit in another section.
Getting your Aggie Ring as a graduate student is not an easy thing. Like I said, the connection with the institution as graduate students may be less than our undergraduate peers and we come in without the ingrained idea of a class ring. Throughout my first year, as I was traveling through Texas, the U.S., and the world, I realized the importance of the Aggie Network. Really, the amount of people my friends who had Aggie Rings were meeting and chatting with was insane. I had volunteered as Ring Day support staff two times and I saw how much this ring meant to students and families and how this experience is for many, a representation of their efforts and successes. So, after some thought and consideration, I decided to get my Aggie Ring as it represents efforts and things I have learned during my journey here. Getting my Aggie Ring with my classmates, faculty, and supervisors was probably the best way I could have received this piece of gold that holds so much meaning to me.
I resisted for two years, but on the day of my comprehensive exam, I decided to put a penny on Sully because I felt it was one of the missing pieces of my experience here.
The last thing I was able to experience was Muster and seeing the class of ’67 around campus. Experiencing Muster in Aggieland was extremely humbling as I am sure the Aggie family will remember me when the time comes. As I was saying “here” for all the Aggies who passed away this year, I kept thinking of how immense, respectful, and thoughtful this network is and how much I am glad to be part of it.
I was part of many other great things and traditions in my time here like participating in Howdy Week (formerly known as Gig’Em Week), Family Weekend, and meeting Ms. Rev, which was the best thing in the whole wide world (see it yourself!)
Again, it might not be easy to be part of the traditions and culture of this institution as our schedules are busy and programs are demanding, but if you can, attend these events and experience things yourself, or even more so, volunteer some of your time for these events as they often look for people to assist during the event.
Now the hard part about leaving Aggieland is definitely going to write a different salutation at the beginning of my e-mails that is not “Howdy”.
Thanks and Gig’Em!
Mara Schaffler | Educational Administration and Human Resources Development
is a second year in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education (SAAHE) program within the College of Education and Human Development.