I asked my parents for two things this Christmas — a pair of noise-canceling headphones and their presence by my side at my senior year Muster ceremony.
I found a Sony headset beneath my family’s Christmas Tree Dec. 25. Hotel reservations and requested time off came in late January. And on Thursday April 21, my mom and dad drove from San Antonio to see the other family their son so often talks about.
My family’s history was tied to Texas A&M the day we moved my eldest sister into Lechner Residence Hall in 2004. My parents made every excuse to visit her — football games, Century singers’ recitals. If she casually mentioned she was running out of food on the phone there was a good chance we’d be in the car heading to College Station that Friday to simply buy her groceries and share a meal together.
My mom and dad genuinely love this university. They make it a point to come to football games even if they don’t have a ticket — my dad says it’s the atmosphere, not the game, that makes campus so special. My mom loves the simple acts of kindness many students take for granted on a campus full of them — a smile and “howdy” offered to passersby, an open prayer before a meal or an offered seat on a bus.
Their love followed their children to Texas A&M, and over the course of our Aggie Ring Days, parents’ weekends and graduations, it slowly took root in a campus they began to consider their own. Muster is the final tradition they have not experienced through their sons and daughter, and their presence Thursday is as much their gift to me as it is my gift to them. I wanted them to experience it — to see what the Aggie family truly is.
I am no longer wordless when trying to describe the Aggie family to them. I no longer struggle to explain why thousands of students gather at 2 a.m. on a weekend for Bonfire Memorial, organize money and food for disasters continents away or serve 20,000 strong at the Big Event. The spirit that drives students to accomplish these acts cannot be described, but it can be felt, seen and heard.
The most important lesson Texas A&M has given me is not one in academics or leadership — it is a lesson on family. I will forever remember my senior year Muster ceremony not just for the Roll Call, or as a time to mourn and celebrate. It was a time spent with my mom and dad. And that’s the simplest description of Muster I can give — family.
John Rangel is a aerospace engineering senior and science and technology editor for The Battalion.