Who remembers their college days? Some may be memorable, some may have been not so memorable. Either way, it is a journey. For the most part, my journey at Texas A&M University was a memorable one, even all the way back to my freshman year. For those who might remember, that first semester can be a rocky road. Learning how to adapt to college for me was challenging. As being an only child, I am a first generation Aggie in my family. Getting in Texas A&M back in the early 2000s was difficult. I can’t even imagine trying now to get in. I probably wouldn’t have made it. However, I did and the rest was history.
In the Fall of 2000, which was my first semester on campus, I couldn’t be more excited to be starting my journey as an Aggie. This was also the first year after the collapse of the Aggie Bonfire that took 12 of our fellow Aggies. Being a first generation Aggie, I only had the understanding of the history of Bonfire, but was never got a chance to experience it. Well, that first semester was the first year we did not have a Bonfire stack. It was a hard time on campus as many students who were involved along with the families of the fallen were in a stage of mourning. For me, it was difficult to take it all in because I could feel the effects of everyone around campus. It changed the campus forever. What really is special about Aggieland is the service among the community. I mention to many people that my current city Grand Prairie, that I work for, has many similarities to College Station. Bryan/College Station is a great community, a community built on serving others. I truly find it to be a home away from home when I come back to campus.
Back to Bonfire, even though I did not know any of the fallen, I felt a connection in a way from the amount of information I learned about each one. That first year was a year of discovery in which understanding how a campus comes together in times of need was important. I developed a lot of friends that first semester, especially in my living on campus. I had a great experience on campus, so great that I may have been enjoying that “other education” a little bit too much. Leading into the spring, I ended up on scholastic probation from the first semester. Those grades were not up to par for where I should have been. That spring semester I had to work my butt off. It was challenging because I knew I had to get on a stick. During that time, there were late night studying sessions, library visits, lots of tutoring and so much else.
Do you remember a time when you kept working at something to do your best in and in the end you just didn’t get there? Well, that was me. I took college algebra and I hated it. I ended up retaking the class twice and had to settle with a D. Math in high school was so much different than it is in college. Ironically, I enjoyed math in high school. That changed completely at A&M. Just happy I survived the Pythagorean theorem part in college math. I don’t miss it a bit and never have used it after college.
Fast forwarding to sports, I absolutely bleed maroon and white. I love college sports, especially football. Going to games as a student were probably my favorite experiences. There is nothing cooler to experience that Football game day. On the campus of Texas A&M, you can’t miss the Aggie Band marching into Kyle Field. The pulse of Aggieland is a great sight to see when you come to game day. I went to all of the games as a student. I really enjoyed getting to go with my roommates and suites from my dorm to the games. Living on campus has its perks. I was one of the rare students who lived on campus the entire time. One item I enjoyed was being able to be in walking distance to almost everything. I didn’t really drive a whole lot while I was on-campus and at that time, parking was a premium for your car. I got to stay in school after that second semester. I made the grades to get off of scholastic probation heading into my sophomore year.
Getting through that first year at Texas A&M was a challenge, but what it taught me was to persevere through the hard times and buckle down to get the grades up. I learned valuable lessons of keeping my head up and making every moment count. In my next part of this journey, I am going to visit the “other education” side again and how that portion was just as valuable as the academic side. Balance is important in college. Stick with me next week and I will go into that portion of my time and how it led to special opportunities I have touched in other posts. Until next week, have a great week!
Michael is a contributor on topics involving recreation trends, City of Grand Prairie Texas news, Toastmasters, Aggie updates, personal development and more.