From Aggieland to the White House
After serving as the first female student body president, Brooke (Leslie) Rollins ’94 has become an influential Aggie in government and politics.
- By Mamie Hertel '24
- Photography by Ryan Donnell
- Oct. 19, 20224 min read
Guided by the Aggie core value of selfless service, Brooke (Leslie) Rollins ’94 spent her time as a student finding ways to make a difference. Feeling called to something bigger than herself, Rollins stepped into the student government arena. As the first female student body president at Texas A&M University, her time in Aggieland set the tone for a career rooted in public service.
From serving as Gov. Rick Perry’s policy director to building and running the largest state policy organization in America and ultimately running the domestic policy agenda for the president of the United States, Rollins uses lessons she learned in Aggieland to build and implement life-changing policies for Texans and all Americans.
What motivated you to run for student body president?
While walking through the Memorial Student Center at the beginning of my freshman year, I read the names of Aggies who had given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I realized the important role this university played in the never-ending battle for freedom. A few months later, I sat on the concrete steps of the G. Rollie White Coliseum after experiencing my first campus Muster ceremony. At that moment, I knew that servant leadership and Texas A&M would forever be an integral part of who I am.
Students before me had already laid the pathway of service, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life living up to the standard of being an Aggie. When I looked around, I saw student government as a way to do that.
What was it like campaigning for student body president knowing a female had never been elected?
I knew there would be people who doubted me, but I was confident that if I had the right vision and message, I could be elected. I didn’t run to prove any political ideology but rather to show that Texas A&M elevates everyone.
We held rallies, knocked on a lot of doors and worked hard to ensure students knew I wanted to be a leader who heard and amplified their voices and needs. I think people saw that I was driven to serve every student, so the fact that I was the first female was a small detail in the bigger picture of an effective, impactful campaign.
What motivates you to dedicate your life to public policy?
Every day, I am motivated by the opportunity to help more people achieve the American dream. It often takes years of labor in the public policy trenches to see change come to fruition, but it’s worth it to see people’s lives change for the better.
The biggest lesson I learned as student body president was to always find a way to serve others. Think big about how you can do that, but always stay rooted in your values. The method of how we serve others changes frequently, but why we serve should remain steadfast. The Aggies who served our country, including friends of mine who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, remind me of the bigger fight we all have a part in. My battle is very different than those brave men and women, but I am still called to the arena to serve our country.
How have your student government experiences helped you excel in your career?
Student government taught me the importance of surrounding myself with people who will challenge me while also developing a deep love and respect for each other. I was grateful every day to serve others while working with people who shared my values. We also had a lot of fun along the way.
While the stakes were a little higher at the White House, the values and purpose I had while in student government are the same. At Texas A&M, our focus was on Aggies. In the White House, our focus was on Americans and preserving the American dream. Our mission was to fight for those we represent, and we do that through selfless service both in Washington, D.C., and in Aggieland.
About Brooke Rollins ’94
After earning her bachelor’s in agricultural development from Texas A&M and a law degree from The University of Texas, both with honors, Brooke Rollins ’94 served as Gov. Rick Perry’s policy director. She then grew the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a political policy think tank, from a fledgling organization to a highly influential policy group.
In 2018, Rollins was recruited to run the White House’s Office of American Innovation and ultimately the Domestic Policy Council. She then founded and is now the president and CEO of the America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute. She and her husband, Mark ’94, currently reside in Fort Worth, Texas, and spend a majority of their free time taxiing their four children to baseball games, cattle shows, piano lessons and Aggie football games.