I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas—the dreaded “Raiderland.” My father, David Carl Ladd, is a 1990 Texas Tech graduate. He’s a true Red Raider and naturally assumed I was joking when I decided to attend Texas A&M University. No other university I visited (Tech and t.u. included) compared. Though it proved to be a true test of my resolve, I mustered what Aggie spirit I had and convinced him that Texas A&M was the place for me.
An Aggie takes shape
My first day of classes at Texas A&M in the fall of 2011 was truly terrifying. Though I had located all my classrooms during Gig ’em Week, everything morphed as both Old Army and fish swarmed the campus. Somehow I survived my first day and eventually found time to explore my interests.
It’s true what they say about “the other education” at Texas A&M: Anyone, regardless of their interests, can find a student organization with which they can identify and contribute. It wasn’t long before I discovered Breathe Hope, a student group that raises awareness and research funds for people with cystic fibrosis (CF) and their families in conjunction with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Because my younger sister Amanda has cystic fibrosis, Breathe Hope is a perfect fit for me. Her condition is so severe that it has required two double-lung transplants, but I’m happy to report that Amanda is doing well and pursuing her love of theater.
The organization was founded in 2006 by Elizabeth Widener ’08 in memory of her older sister Lindsay Kirkland Widener ’05 and all Aggies affected by CF. With funds from the annual Great Strides 5K fundraiser, members visit the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston two to four times a year to hang out with kids who have CF. Without the efforts of groups like Breathe Hope, my sister’s capability and plan to graduate from high school would be seriously limited.
Academics and beyond
While all that takes place around campus makes Aggieland unique, let’s face it: I am here to get a degree. My studies in English are essential to my dream of writing children’s literature, novels and plays. I am the proud recipient of a Foundation Excellence Award (funded by the Simpson Trust) and the Sam Houston Sanders Endowed Scholarship—both scholarships are managed by the Texas A&M Foundation. Without these scholarships and several grants, attending Texas A&M would have been difficult, if not impossible.
Like many Aggies, my true passion is not entirely academic. I am also focused on creating a meaningful family life. In June 2012, I married my best friend and fellow Aggie David W. Baker ’14. Being active, full-time undergraduate students and nurturing a new marriage is not without its challenges. But with the right attitudes, good communication and shared cooking and cleaning duties, we’re doing fine. It’s important to us that both our academic and extracurricular experiences cultivate our values and strengthen us as Aggies and as a couple.
Dare to make a difference
When I look into the future beyond what still feels to me like a veil of uncertainty and chance, I hope to achieve a simple, contented life, but one that holds great meaning. It’s a life in which I may dare to make the kind of difference that touches the hearts of those around me. To me, this is what college is about, especially at Texas A&M: changing perceptions and building confidence while learning to lead and serve others.
To top it off, my Red Raider Dad is as proud as ever, and one of my most loyal supporters for choosing Texas A&M.
Dr. George Klett ’56, my storytelling seminar professor, describes life in Aggieland best: “Every college experience is unique, but you won’t find a college experience as unique as Texas A&M.”
By Maegan Rashae Baker ’14
Editor’s Note: After a long battle with cystic fibrosis, Maegan’s sister Amanda passed away in late March.
You can support student programs at Texas A&M University with the gift of an endowment to the Texas A&M Foundation. Request your A&M Support Kit to see how you can make a difference.
Cindy Munson ’99
Director of Development
Division of Student Affairs