Menu

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.

View the full magazine archive

Feature Stories

Student Impact

The Power of Maroon and White

As a first-generation Aggie, Elizabeth Hamburg ’07 didn’t truly understand the power of Texas A&M University’s alumni network until she joined the Houston A&M Club after graduating. “I really enjoyed meeting and learning from fellow Aggies who were at different stages in their careers,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to see what a nonprofit looked like from the inside.”

The communication graduate soon decided to donate to the club’s scholarship fund but could only afford to give the minimum amount. However, her small initial donation was rolled into the club’s fundraising effort and helped create a scholarship for a worthy Texas A&M student. “I’ve always been proud of how much the A&M Clubs prioritize creating scholarships,” said Hamburg, who now serves as the Houston A&M Club executive director. “Our club traditionally hosts an event where scholarship recipients visit with our members. It’s especially amazing to see the first-generation students. That’s when you really get that feel-good moment of hearing how a scholarship makes a difference in their lives.”

A&M Clubs, which comprise one of the largest alumni networks in the world, are an integral part of fundraising for both the Texas A&M Foundation and The Association of Former Students. “Through their fundraising efforts, A&M Clubs help many deserving students attend Texas A&M,” said Texas A&M Foundation President Tyson Voelkel ’96. “The clubs’ assistance in creating scholarships passes the torch to a new generation of Aggies.”

A World of Support

Each A&M Club is chartered by The Association of Former Students, which evaluates the group’s sustainability. Approximately 250 A&M Clubs are in existence worldwide, and more than 90 percent of Aggies live within an A&M Club’s boundaries. While 126 of these clubs are based in Texas and 89 in other parts of the United States, A&M Clubs are also established in Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Australia. A true ranking doesn’t exist, but officials at The Association of Former Students believe that Texas A&M ranks second nationally in the number of alumni club networks behind Notre Dame (which has 271).

Clubs are required to hold three events annually; often, one of these is a local Muster ceremony. Other activities range from dances and Mardi Gras celebrations to crawfish boils and socials with the Yell Leaders. In addition, many A&M Clubs participate in community service projects with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics.

Besides offering opportunities for fellowship, A&M Clubs provide significant financial support to the university. In total, 84 A&M Clubs have given almost $4.5 million to the Texas A&M Foundation to support scholarships. While some of these scholarships are one-time gifts, many clubs establish endowed scholarships that support Texas A&M students in perpetuity.

Not surprisingly, A&M Clubs in major Texas metropolitan areas attract the most Aggies and have a significant track record of giving back through the Foundation. For instance, the Houston A&M Club is the largest worldwide. “There are about 90,000 Aggies in Houston, and we communicate regularly with about 45,000 of those individuals via email,” said Hamburg. “Our goals are to foster the Aggie Spirit in Houston, give back to Texas A&M and give money to Houston-area students who attend Texas A&M.” The club, which traditionally gives 30 scholarships annually, raises most of its scholarship funds during its annual Coach’s Night and through a member campaign where Houston-area Aggies pool their money.

Similarly, the Brazos County A&M Club leverages its members’ proximity to Texas A&M’s campus to raise scholarship funds. However, many A&M Clubs in less populated areas of Texas—such as Wichita Falls A&M Club, LaSalle County A&M Club, Greater Temple Area A&M Club and Gonzales County A&M Club—have also raised enough funds to create endowed scholarships. Additionally, members of A&M Clubs in California, Alaska, Tennessee, Louisiana and Missouri strengthen the Aggie Spirit across the United States by contributing to scholarships.

Clubs also offer generous support to The Association of Former Students. “To date, A&M Clubs have donated nearly $2 million dollars in gifts and scholarships to The Association through the Annual Fund, the Endowed Century Club, Aggie Ring Scholarships and Memorial Scholarships,” said Michael J. Hardy ’13, the organization’s director of fundraising.

Ultimately, members of A&M Clubs around the world are dedicated to helping make Texas A&M an affordable option for students in their communities. “We all know that the cost of higher education is an important factor in a student’s decision to enroll,” said Lisa Burton ’10, president of the Brazos County A&M Club. “It is imperative, now more than ever, for families to receive some financial relief. Providing scholarships to students from our respective communities gives our members a common cause to support. Scholarships represent an investment in the students who’ve grown up in our midst.”
 

 

MEET THREE STUDENT RECIPIENTS OF A&M CLUB SCHOLARSHIPS:

Scholar: Diana Aviles ’19
Hometown: Houston
Major: Applied Mathematical Sciences
 

Scholarship: Richard “Dick” Allen ’38 Endowed Opportunity Award (established by the Houston A&M Club)

Background: Aviles grew up watching the challenges faced by her parents and neighbors who had limited access to education before emigrating from Mexico and Latin America. “They couldn’t possibly help their children with their homework. I was fortunate to have four older brothers who motivated me and were always more than willing to assist me with my homework or anything else I didn’t understand.”

Her saving grace: This scholarship. Her parents were both manual laborers who earned just enough to provide for their family. However, health issues from working these taxing jobs eventually took a toll, thus curtailing their income and making it impossible for them to pay for their daughter’s college education. As a result, Aviles understands firsthand how a scholarship allows students to maintain their focus on studies. “A scholarship can determine whether a student attends a university or a local college. It’s a huge relief not having to stress and worry about paying for rent or food.”

Her strength: Numbers. The future actuary and Microsoft Excel wizard also believes her scholarship provides her additional incentive to succeed. “It influences me to try harder and to not let anything go to waste. It inspires me to reach for my goals and pursue my dream career.”

Diana Aviles '19, Applied Mathematical Sciences
Tyler Snell '20, Biomedical Engineering
Scholar: Tyler Snell ’20
Hometown: Texarkana, Arkansas
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Minor: Journalism
 

Scholarship: Deep East Texas A&M Club President’s Endowed Scholarship

Woo Pig Sooie: Even though he grew up in Texarkana, Arkansas, Snell regularly crossed state lines to attend Texas secondary schools. He always thought he would return to his home state to attend college. “I grew up a Razorback fan. My entire room and all my clothes were Arkansas red.” He surprised himself by choosing Texas A&M. The reason? “I was so drawn to the university’s sense of community.”

Why he’s thankful: With this scholarship, Snell reached a financial threshold that allowed his out-of-state tuition to be waived. Without that, his family couldn’t have afforded Texas A&M.

Campus involvement: Snell first joined a freshmen leadership organization, Aggies Selflessly Serving in Shaping Tomorrow, where he worked on a variety of projects involving children. Torday, he's a reporter for The Battalion, serves as an ambassador for the College of Engineering and mentors students at Bryan High School as part of the Brotherhood of Aggie Mentors, a men’s organization.

What’s next? Snell is considering applying to medical school to focus on pediatrics. However, he is also interested in working to develop prosthetic limbs. “In high school, I was good in math and science, so engineering seemed the way to go. But I also have a very service-oriented heart, and I like giving back to people. I want to have a career where I can see the impact I make on others.”

 

Scholar: Victoria Badillo ’20
Hometown: Bryan, Texas
Major: Public Health
 

Scholarship: Brazos County A&M Club Foundation Excellence Award

Her upbringing: “I grew up wearing maroon and white and was always surrounded by people who were passionate about belonging to the Aggie family. My oldest sister earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M.”

Why she’s thankful: “I take pride in knowing there’s someone who acknowledges my efforts and truly believes that I can be successful here and beyond. My scholarship donors are sustaining the spirit and traditions of the welcoming, supportive and unshakeable Aggie family.”

Her passion: Badillo identified her life’s calling in high school while participating in the Brazos Valley United Way Youth Leadership Cabinet. In that role, she assisted with fundraising for various nonprofit organizations in the Bryan-College Station community. “The opportunities I experienced as a member and leader showed me how important it is to invest in my community and create a network of positive change.”

Future Plans: Badillo plans to pursue a second degree in nursing to become a labor and delivery nurse. “I’ve always been passionate about working with young children, and I know I can make a difference working in the health field. The relational, committed and compassionate qualities of a nurse are things that strongly connect to the person I am and the person I strive to be. I’m drawn to the gift of caring for women at one of the most important moments in their lives and nurturing new lives throughout pregnancy and beyond.”

Victoria Badillo '20, Public Health

A&M Clubs or individuals interested in creating scholarships for Aggie students should contact Marcy Ullmann '86, director of scholarship programs (below).

Contact:

Marcy Ullmann '86

Senior Director of Scholarship Programs