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Spirit Archives

Spirit is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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Feature Stories

Student Impact

Howdy, Sumner Johnson '19

What sparked your interest in music?

In 2007, I saw the Aggie Band perform at the Alamo Bowl and knew immediately that I wanted to be a member. I was already learning the piano, but I ended up joining band and playing the drums all through high school, which continued into college with me playing the snare drum for the Aggie Band and the drum set in the Aggieland Orchestra. I’ve had the chance to play at some amazing venues, and marching on Kyle Field is incredible. My favorite thing every single year is completing the four-way cross. Your heart beats so fast, and the roar of the crowd drowns out your playing! 

Tell me about your favorite Aggie experience so far.

One of the most incredible opportunities I’ve had was a short-term study abroad trip I took through the Corps of Cadets’ International Excursions Program. During 12 days in Brazil, I had the chance to visit the American Embassy, consulate and military base there along with 26 other cadets. We spent my favorite day at the embassy learning the specifics of everyone’s jobs and hearing about the economic and political problems Brazil faces today. We also got to interact with U.S. marines stationed there. As we traveled, I learned how to navigate across cultures at an international level. It challenged me to think more critically about the world in a larger context.

What has receiving a Sul Ross Scholarship meant to you?

It relieved some of the stress that comes with financing my education, and it especially helped with the additional dues of joining the Corps, Aggie Band and Ross Volunteers. I can focus on my studies instead of spreading myself thin attempting to cover expenses. I’ve been blessed to receive the extra support.
 

Ask Me Anything:

Most valuable lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You miss out on so many opportunities when you don’t ask questions.

Something you’ve overcome: Growing up, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to drive, but thanks to a special pair of glasses that make it legal for me, I got my license when I turned 16, just like everyone else.

Favorite Texas A&M traditions: Silver Taps and Muster. All our traditions are great, but these two transcend everyone’s individual differences.

Secret talent: I can move my ears.

Life motto: Show up. I think 90 percent of life is just showing up and being present where you are.

Sul Ross Scholarship Program Turns 40

Initiated by former students and named after Lawrence Sullivan Ross, former Texas Gov. and president of Texas A&M, the Sul Ross Scholarship Program eases the financial burdens of cadets as they journey toward becoming the leaders of tomorrow. Since the program’s birth in 1978, more than 1,000 Sul Ross Scholarships have become available to cadets. Sul Ross Scholarships decrease tuition and expenses by up to $4,800 over four years for recipients. 

Riley Richardson '20 (left) and Eric Maxwell '19 (right) are Sul Ross Scholarship recipients.

How has being visually impaired impacted your college experience?

Learning how to do things, like how to march in the band, has been tough. As a freshman in the Corps, speaking up for myself was also challenging. Learning how to advocate for myself, however, put me on a trajectory of success. I was born with ocular albinism, meaning the retinas of my eyes are albino. I have 20/200 vision, so I can only see from 20 feet away what the average person can see from 200 feet away. But my eyesight hasn’t slowed me down. I’m the public relations sergeant for the Ross Volunteers, and within the band, I’m a drum section officer and chaplain. I’m also the platoon leader for my outfit. Everyone has their own issues to deal with; this is just mine.

Where will your future take you?

The civilian sector, hopefully in marketing or sales. I want to reach a place where I can financially support people who do mission work full-time. I’ve experienced mission trips with Aggie Cru, an organization on campus that equips students for missions both locally and abroad. Last summer, I went on an incredible trip to Asia, and the summer before, I went to Ozark Lakes in Branson, Missouri. I know funding these trips can be difficult, so I want to support those who are called to them. Just for this year, though, I’m enjoying finally wearing my senior boots around campus!

To support cadets by creating a Sul Ross Scholarship or other available scholarship options, please contact Tom Pool '96, senior director of development for the Corps of Cadets, below.

Contact:

Tom Pool '96

Senior Director of Development
Corps of Cadets