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Scholars Program Supports Aggie Superstars

Shaye Smith '22, one of the first recipients of a Haynes Scholarship. (Photo by Leighton Jack '14)

In the early stages of the Lead by Example campaign, Reta Haynes committed a major gift to establish the competitive Haynes Scholars Program for exceptional Aggies. Fourteen students have benefited so far, including environmental engineering major Shaye Smith ’22.


A junior from Hobbs, New Mexico, Shaye Smith ’22 is among the first students in Texas A&M University’s new environmental engineering major, a discipline that trains Aggies to develop solutions for providing safe water, reducing emissions and safely managing hazardous wastes, among other areas. “I chose this field because it presents unique opportunities and because it is a fluid career with a variety of prospects,” she said.

Like any good scholar, Smith is eager for new experiences in every area of her life, and she hopes to one day use her Aggie education to travel the world as an engineering firm consultant. “I want to get the most out of life and share those experiences with the people around me,” she added.

Smith considers her greatest accomplishment to be her hard work, which resulted in a full ride to college through scholarships. “I’m most proud of the little things, because they’re the building blocks,” she explained. “Having an award like the Haynes Scholarship gives me the opportunity to do the things I love, and I try to appreciate it every day. It’s the biggest blessing of my life.”

World Traveler:

A self-identified adventure junkie, Smith enjoys traveling and has visited Latin America, but her favorite excursion was to Egypt in summer 2019. During a two-week mission trip with her church, she served as a sports camp counselor and coach for Egyptian middle schoolers. “Traveling is a huge part of my life,” Smith explained. “I enjoy seeing new places, meeting different people and gaining new perspectives. During my trip to Egypt, I saw the world through a different lens.”

Athlete and Leader:

As a member of the Texas A&M women’s water polo team, Smith exhibits leadership qualities through sports. She played basketball most of her life until a knee injury drew her to the pool during her junior year of high school. The next year, she was selected as captain of the swim team, where she guided the women’s relay to state finals for the first time in five years. “Now, at Texas A&M, it is exciting to encourage my teammates and be a leader and example amongst my friends,” Smith said.

Among her many commitments to the university, Reta Haynes committed a dual cash and estate gift during the Lead by Example campaign to create the prestigious Haynes Scholars Program.

Leading by Generosity

Created by Reta Haynes through a dual cash and estate gift, the Haynes Scholars Program currently covers 50% or more of total college expenses for select high-achieving students. When fully funded, the program will provide four-year scholarships to approximately 40 students annually.

“Meeting and knowing these scholars has been the highlight of my life,” Haynes said. “These young people are the future of our great country, and I know they will keep the Aggie traditions and spirit alive and pass them to future generations.”

This gift represents only one way Haynes has generously supported Texas A&M. She and her late husband, Bill ’46, have contributed to the university since 1985, and after Bill passed away in 2009, she has continued to give. During the Lead by Example campaign, she committed nearly $50 million to numerous areas, including the Corps of Cadets, the Bush School of Government and Public Service, the College of Engineering, the College of Education and Human Development, and The Association of Former Students.


Steve Blomstedt '83

Assistant Vice President for Discovery Programs
Discovery Programs