Thursday night’s frigid temperature may have warranted an evening in doors, but it did not stop the Graduating Class of 2020 from celebrating one final trip around campus at this year’s Elephant Walk.
A staple of Aggie traditions since 1922, Elephant Walk provides seniors with the opportunity to stroll through campus with their graduating peers, and reminisce on their time spent in Aggieland. The Texas A&M Class Councils led event saw hundreds of seniors gather on the Quad at 6:20 p.m. Following a yell session led by three senior Yell Leaders, the crowd of students departed from the Quad and made stops at five popular sights on A&M grounds.
The first stop of the night came at Academic Plaza, where students stood solemnly and listened to a roll call of the classmates who had passed away since their freshman year. The crowd whispered ‘Here’ after each name was called.
Industrial distribution senior Megan Gallagher said standing for her peers who are no longer standing today was an important part of the night.
“I think it’s really cool that we take a moment to recognize the seniors who didn’t make it to where we are, to make sure that their names are said and that they’re here too,” Gallagher said. “We all stand with and for them.”
From Academic Plaza, students moved to Fish Pond, where Patrick Hernandez, President of the Class of 2020, offered the seniors his reflection.
“We’ve cheered together for our boys on the field, we’ve laughed together as we built friendships that are going to last a lifetime and we’ve grieved together as we’ve lost friends and loved ones along the way,” Hernandez said. “All these things have brought us closer together and united us, like countless classes of Aggies before us and countless classes of Aggies will after us. These are the things that set us apart from the rest of the world. These are the things that make us Aggies.”
Hernandez then turned the microphone over to senior Yell Leaders Karsten Lowe, Kenny Catrell and Reid Williams, who each shared class history and memorable moments from the senior's time at A&M.
From wisecracks about snowfall in Aggieland and record setting overtime wins, to the burials of former First Lady Barbara Bush and former President George H.W. Bush, the senior Yell Leaders left no tale unspoken. The history lesson culminated with Lowe providing a brief summary of the current semester, and what has yet to come.
“For our senior year, this year, we started off with another, and hopefully our last, Thursday football game,” Lowe said. “We went on to see bike share pushed to new heights. We played not one, but two number one teams and came up a little short, but everyone knows we’re going to beat the hell outta LSU and win that one. Lastly, we are just here cherishing and holding onto our final few moments here in Aggieland, and hoping it doesn’t come to and end."
Due to on-going construction at the Jack K. Williams Administration Building, the third stop of the night came from behind the Liberal Arts and Humanities Building, where keynote speaker Porter Garner, Class of 1979, said the power and prominence of the Aggie network will always be with the Graduating Class of 2020.
“In just over a month, many of you all will cross that stage and become proud former students of Texas A&M,” said the President and CEO of The Association of Former Students. “Everybody in this crowd is wearing the world’s greatest resume on their finger. As a member of the Aggie network, I can promise you this: you will have more opportunities in your life, more doors will open for you, and you will build more relationships by virtue of this little band of gold than anything in your entire life. Aggies, there is nothing like being a proud former student of Texas A&M.”
At the E. King Gill 12th Man Statue, the Class of 2020 Class Agents revealed that the university’s gift to the seniors will be a mural at an unmarked location on campus.
While on her way to Kyle Field for the final stop of the night, kinesiology senior Jennifer Shepherd said passing through campus alongside her squadron helped her appreciate A&M that much more.
“I’m just blessed to have made it this far and to have the support of my buddies, my family,” Shepherd said. “It’s cool to go around and see all the things that make A&M, A&M. It’s really important to me, or its become important to me as I’ve been here, and gone through the school and through the Corps.”
Before closing Elephant Walk with one more yell session, Hernandez thanked his peers and wished them well in all their future endeavors.
“These have been the best years of our lives so far, Ag’s, and it’s only going to get better from here,” Hernandez said. “When we leave here after graduation to transition into our new homes, whether it’s close by or across the globe, know that you have an army of Ag’s behind you that would do anything for you, to support you and help you succeed. This university truly has a spirit that can never be told.”