With student government elections opening Thursday, Feb. 25, the Student Government Association’s Election Commission held an online panel discussion for this year’s Yell Leader candidates.
The panel, which took place via a Facebook Live stream on Feb. 22, began with a statement by Election Commissioner and sophomore Cara Maxwell, followed by candidate introductions and two rounds of student-submitted questions presented by the moderator, assistant director of Student Life Angela Winkler.
Two of the candidates, junior Memo Salinas and sophomore Zachary Cross, are members of the Corps of Cadets’ Five for Yell campaign. Junior Jones Ard, the third individual in attendance, is running independently for the position of senior Yell Leader. The other three 5 for Yell candidates, seniors Woods Johnson and Noah Ferguson and junior Kipp Knecht, elected not to participate.
Ard gave his introduction and a brief platform statement before he had to leave the panel due to prior arrangements. As an independent candidate, Ard is hoping to become a Yell Leader so he can spread the Aggie Spirit to all students on campus.
“As a first generation Aggie, I was able to fall in love with this university all on my own and really experience the whole process,” Ard said. “I want to share that with every single student that’s currently here and coming in. One thing I want to emphasize in my campaign is that I know how much the Aggie experience has meant to me, and I want to share that with every single student at this university, of all diverse backgrounds, Corps or non-reg.”
Salinas, who is currently a junior Yell Leader and member of Squadron 17, said he feels humbled to connect with those on campus and hopes to continue spreading the Aggie experience through everyday interactions with kids, fans and current and former students.
“I have the honor and privilege of serving as the first Hispanic Yell Leader at A&M. It means so much to other people to see that I have that ability to inspire somebody coming to A&M who may be Hispanic or whatever they may be,” Salinas said. “Getting to serve this past year in an unprecedented time, I think we did a great job of promoting and perpetuating the Aggie Spirit and tradition in a time that was very tough. Being able to see how we could adapt and overcome, and still continue to do our job ... I have full confidence we can accomplish anything.”
For Cross, a fireteam leader in Company H-1, being a Yell Leader would allow him to give back to the university who gave him a family. He said he hopes to accomplish this through selfless service and bridging the gap between students and athletes, connecting them as people and fellow Aggies instead of distant figures entertaining fans.
“As a first-generation Aggie, I came here not really knowing what I was getting myself into, and I just really found a family here,” Cross said. “Selfless service is the most important [Core Value] because Selfless Service really embodies who an Aggie is. With this whole freeze that happened, I think this was perfectly shown this past week, with all the Aggies out there helping each other. Being in the Corps of Cadets, I learned that giving yourself to others, not only are you helping them out, but you’re ... just really making, not only yourself better but the world, too.”
Students can vote for junior and senior Yell Leaders at vote.tamu.edu on Thursday, Feb. 25 and Friday, Feb. 26.