I can’t believe this day has finally come; the day I’ve always dreamed of, without knowing that this is what I wanted all along.

I went to my first Aggie football game when I was just six months old. You could really say that I “bleed maroon.” From then on out, it is hard to find a picture of me in anything that is not Texas A&M related. This school easily could’ve been my life growing up. It would’ve been all I wanted, if it wasn’t for the sport I loved so dearly.

As a teenager I thought my dream was to play collegiate softball. I thought my dream was to go to a small school where I would be noticed. I thought my dream was to be a physical therapist. But once I let go of that first dream, all of the others changed along with it.

Seventeen-year old Kaylee didn’t know all of the new dreams she was going to imagine for herself in the next four years. She decided to apply to Texas A&M University. Her parents met at the university and she decided to make it a tradition. Beyond that, 17-year-old Kaylee had no idea what she wanted.

I knew I wanted to make friends during my first semester, and what better way than to take on a part-time job and join a bunch of organizations. After giving up softball, I needed to find what was next for me. The next thing I knew, a camera had fallen into my lap, and that gift has taken me farther than I could’ve imagined.

That camera brought me to The Battalion, to new friends and to a new outlook.

My time spent working for The Batt has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I found a new way to connect to sports, especially with the sport I grew up loving. This job gave me the space to think more creatively.

That camera has given me so many new friends. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people thanks to photography, and I’ll continue to get to meet people thanks to this wonderful gift.

Lastly, that camera gave me a new perspective. I feel so blessed to have been able to see and experience the things I have in these past three and a half years — from softball games to Aggie traditions to important societal changes.

I have so much to be thankful for, and I only have the people in my life to thank for all of it.

To my friends: Each and every one of you has shaped me into the person I am today, and you know exactly who you are. We laughed together, cried together and made memories together. Words cannot express how grateful I am for all of you.

To my sister: Our relationship has truly made me believe in the quote that “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” You always know exactly how to pick someone up when they need it most.

To my grandparents: Thank you for instilling a belief in me that I can do whatever I set my mind to, along with a belief that I deserve it too.

To my parents: I’m trying to come up with the words to say everything I’m feeling, but I would be sitting here, writing this, for a very long time. Y’all showed me my place, and helped me learn that I was meant to be an Aggie. You knew from the moment you dressed me up and brought me to my first football game at six months old. I am beyond happy to have this place to share with you both.

I realized that Texas A&M University is a place where dreams blossom. This place allows you to shoot for the moon and land among the stars. This place makes anything seem possible. This place is where you find your people.

This is the hardest goodbye I have ever had to say. So it’s not goodbye, it’s a see you later, Texas A&M.

Kaylee Cogbill is a marketing senior and assistant photo chief for The Battalion.

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