I never thought I’d get my Aggie Ring, mostly because I never thought I would be an Aggie.
With one parent being a Longhorn (hiss) and the other being a New Mexico State University Aggie, Texas A&M was never on the top of my list. My older brother pursued a degree in biology from A&M and, being the stubborn person I am, I was determined to “make my own way” and forge a brand new path that no one in my family had gone down before. However, after lots of debating, I ended up at A&M, unsure if it was the right decision and knowing little to nothing about the university.
My brother is my best friend, so I was excited to live in the same place as him again but, aside from that, I was reluctant, scared and ready to just get my degree and leave.
Then I went to Fish Camp and started to fall in love with this university. Fish Camp introduced me to the traditions and opportunities at A&M, which ultimately led me to join organizations on campus. I started building a family here and finding new ways to make A&M feel like home.
However, truly embracing what it meant to be an Aggie didn’t click until I attended Bonfire Remembrance during my freshman year. I was in total awe seeing the number of people there, honoring Aggies they may have never met. I left in tears and remember sending a text to my mom at 3 a.m. saying, “I know it’s not where I originally wanted to be and I know I fought you a lot about it, but thank you for heavily encouraging me to come to A&M. I have found my place.” (Yes, I scrolled through two years of text messages to find that exact quote).
I was no longer content with just getting my degree — I wanted more. I was always an Aggie, but I hadn’t always embraced it.
From that moment on, I grew into the loudest and proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2022.
I threw myself into every opportunity I could find to be more involved in the Aggie family.
I changed my major from biology to international studies and fell in love with what I was learning.
I’ve managed to balance a job, multiple student organizations and a full load of classes.
I’ve sung the War Hymn at the top of my lungs to my Longhorn dad.
I’ve found my niches, from The Battalion to Aggie Miracle to Fish Camp, that have given me a sense of community I never thought I’d have.
I have met world-changers, cried in Evans, eaten at the Commons more times than I can count, pulled too many all-nighters and watched the world suffer through a pandemic, injustice, nail-biting elections and so much more.
For as much as I want to believe the world is an inherently good place, my ring serves as a reminder to always continue fighting the good fight and to never let a changed plan or a seemingly lost battle stop me from helping enact change.
I’ve seen the highest highs and lowest lows here, but through it all, I have found a family in Aggieland.
When I look at my ring, I will forever be reminded of that. To me, my Aggie Ring is not just a pretty piece of gold, but a reminder that no matter where I go in life and no matter what is thrown at me, I will always have a place to call home and people to fall back on.
Alyssa Gafford-Gaby is an international studies junior and news writer for The Battalion.