When I enrolled at Texas A&M, my parents sent me off on the train to College Station with the proceeds of an insurance policy and some war bonds—about $500. My father told me that was all they had to invest in my college education and when those dollars were gone, I would be on my own. Years later, I still vividly remember spending my last 25 cents on a “sissy burger” made with mayo, not mustard, at the MSC lunch counter. Then I went downstairs and applied for a part-time job on the MSC staff. As an employee there, I could charge food and drink against my earnings account. Throughout the rest of my college years, I worked odd jobs in College Station or at home in Dallas County during summer breaks. If there was a way to pick up a buck, I’d give it a try. In the fall, I’d take my summer earnings and pay off my loan from the Association of Former Students from the previous year. Then I’d borrow enough to get me through the next two semesters.
Giving Back With Time and Treasure
Eleven years after graduating, I had the opportunity to return to Texas A&M and edit the Texas Aggie for the Association of Former Students. Becoming a member of the Association’s then relatively new Century Club was my first experience in giving back to the institution that gave me so much and provided me with a foundation of values. I accepted the responsibility of giving back, and I endeavor to do so however I can and wherever I can. Though I’m frustrated by the reality that I’ll never be able to donate an entire building or even a set of laboratory tools, I can join with other Aggies to support scholarships, academic programs or student organizations through the Texas A&M Foundation. I can choose to support an academic department, the MSC renovation, the Corps of Cadets or any number of endeavors. I take the responsibility of representing Texas A&M in a positive manner every chance I get. There’s a possibility every day that some person is going to look at me and think, “If this is what Texas A&M does for a person, I want to have some of it. I want to be a Texas Aggie.” And I may not even know when it happens.
Proud Aggie Ambassador
I’m a writer and an editor and have always found Texas A&M exciting, partly because there are 135 years of stories to be shared. These stories get shared at reunions. They get shared at Musters around the world. We share them as speakers and we also share them as listeners. We hear these stories, sometimes repeatedly, and wonder if these former teenagers actually could have done some of those things when they were students here on campus. We didn’t think of ourselves as entrepreneurs back then. We just inherently knew that Texas A&M offered us a leadership laboratory where we could attempt just about anything, explore new ideas and also test new techniques for accomplishing success with people. The school allowed us to grow and develop into who we are and to value who we shared those experiences with. No matter whom I worked for, no matter where I worked, no matter what accolades resulted from those efforts, I was representing Texas A&M. I had to be worthy of that representation and I had to be on the lookout for ways to give back. I had to be willing to plant trees that I will never sit under; even if it was a frustrating 50 or 75 cents at a time.
By Connie Eckard ’55