Jan Weston first stepped onto the campus of Texas A&M as a freshman journalism major in 1972. This Saturday, she will finally receive her Aggie Ring after 45 long years of waiting.
Though Jan’s journey has lasted longer than most, she said she is just as excited as she was her first day on campus to finally don the universally recognized symbol of Aggieland.
“It is hard to put into words how I feel,” Jan said. “I am ecstatic. This is absolutely a dream come true for me. I am literally fulfilling a lifelong dream.”
Jan’s first day in Aggieland was one which changed her life forever. It was on her first day she met a certain upperclassman, who would later become her husband. Benjamin Weston, Class of 1974 and member of the Corps of Cadets, was assisting freshmen move into Krueger Hall — the first female dorm — when he noticed his underclassman helping the young Jan move into Krueger Room 137. Ben quickly took over the task, and Jan and Ben were married two years later.
Ben enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after his graduation, which took place only a week before his wedding to Jan, who went with him, despite only just finishing her sophomore year of college. She enrolled at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University-Commerce) and earned her bachelor’s degree.
The Westons later moved to Amarillo, Texas, where Jan currently teaches pre-AP geography to the sophomores of Randall High School. She also earned a master’s degree in history from West Texas A&M during this time. Despite having two degrees under her belt, Jan said something was still missing. She knew she wanted to earn a degree from A&M and finish the journey she began in 1972, but she couldn’t find an online master’s program which fit her interests.
Rather than calling it quits, Jan turned to her faith in God for an answer. She began praying continually for God to open a door, turning to Psalm 37:4 for comfort. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” the verse reads. Jan’s prayers were soon answered when she received a call from her sister, Christi Gates, regarding an online master’s degree program in educational psychology. The sisters enrolled in the program together.
Jan’s journey has been far from easy. A fall in her high school classroom broke six bones in her body, including her hip in two places and her lower back, which forced her to postpone taking the Graduate Record Examinations until the fall of 2015. In addition to this setback, Jan is a full time teacher and currently has 180 students. She said there is always plenty to do in addition to her coursework, and Ben often pays the price.
“My sweet husband hasn’t had a hot meal that he hasn’t prepared himself since this journey started,” Jan said. “He has been very supportive, thankfully. Ben encourages me when I get tired and need the extra support. Christi was always a huge support, as well. She too is a school teacher, so we were going through this at the same time. I think the most difficult part is the time it takes on top of my day job teaching school. It has been difficult at times, but that is how much this school and this ring mean to me.”
Jan’s hardworking attitude is something which runs in her family, as is her Aggie Spirit. Her father, Ted Claycomb, graduated from A&M in 1949 with a degree in agricultural education. During Jan’s youth, her father, who was an agriculture teacher at Royse City High School, would take her family to Aggie football games. This was no easy feat for the Claycombs, as the trips cost the family about $100.
“[My dad] worked extra hours at the cotton gin in the summer to earn enough money to pile his four little girls into the old Pontiac station wagon with our mother and go to College Station for a game,” Weston said. “For me, it was a trip to the Promised Land. If we were really lucky, there might be enough money to get an Aggie shirt. He instilled in me and my sisters a deep love and appreciation for this school. It has only grown deeper through the years.”
Those trips to College Station instilled in Jan the Aggie Spirit, which she exhibited from a young age. The most notable occurrence of this came at the end of first grade, when she and her classmates were instructed to sing ‘The Eyes of Texas,’ the University of Texas’ fight song, as the finale of their end-of-the-year musical performance.
“I flatly refused to sing it,” Weston said. “I stood there with my little arms folded across my chest and my mouth tightly shut. The music teacher told my dad, and he didn’t make me sing it either.”
On Jan. 12, all of Jan’s hard work and waiting finally paid off, as she ordered her own little piece of Aggie gold. Two of her sisters joined her for the special occasion, one of whom wears her own Aggie Ring. Gates graduated last year from the same program Jan is working to complete.
At Aggie Ring Day this Saturday, Jan will accept her ring from her husband, with all three of her sisters in attendance. With the addition of Jan’s ring, her family will have a total of 30 Aggie Rings to their name.
“I will be 64 years of age when I walk across the stage on May 11,” Weston said. “I think I will have to teach until I am 150 or so to get my money back. But you and I both know that is not why I did it. I will have a degree that says I made it. I completed a degree from the best university in the world and on April 14, I will have the ring to prove it.”