The Texas A&M University Black Former Student Network will host the first ever Aggie Impact Gala on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center.
The gala is a ticketed event that will include dinner and an awards ceremony to honor black former students who have made notable contributions in their career fields. The event will also raise money for an endowed scholarship for incoming, current and transfer African American students at A&M, said Erica Davis-Rouse, Class of 1993, elected official and trustee on the San Jacinto College of Houston Board of Trustees and Aggie Impact Gala founder.
“There’s three overarching goals for this event,” Davis-Rouse said. “We want to raise money for the endowed scholarship, to celebrate the careers and contributions of African American Aggies and to build a stronger network of current African American students and black former students to the university.”
During the gala, the network will award the Honorable Aaron Ford, Class of 1994; Cols. Pauletta and Otis Blueitt, Class of 1981 and 1982; Von Miller, Class of 2011; Paula Harris, Class of 1986; Richmond Webb Jr., Class of 1993; the Honorable Raquel Jones, Class of 1993; Roland Martin, Class of 1991; Jacqueline and Thomas Miles, Class of 1991 and 1990; and the Honorable Ingrid Warren, Class of 1993.
Davis-Rouse said she initially thought of the idea for the gala back in January 2019 and has successfully been able to bring the entire event together in less than a year with the help of her committee co-chairs Kafi Carter-Slaughter, Class of 1994, and Shante Robertson-Thompson, Class of 1994.
Tickets for the event range from $150 to $300, with the latter price including a VIP reception with Italics wine provided by an Aggie sommelier from California. Davis-Rouse said the event was expected to bring together 100 former students, but it has already sold out three times and currently has a waiting list because they have reached maximum capacity within the alumni center.
"Once we got the scholarship endowed, the response has been even more substantial,” Davis-Rouse said. “We’re so excited that people have connected to something that they think is high quality, valuable and worth [donating] for.”
The Gala is open to both former and current students, and Davis-Rouse said many former students who currently have Aggies attending A&M are bringing their students with them to the event, and she plans to give them a formal mention during her speech.
“We want to support those students who are still at A&M on the path to get that Aggie Ring, and then hopefully to graduate,” Davis-Rouse said.
The scholarship was ultimately the driving force behind creating this event, and the leaders of the Network hope the gala will improve the number of African American students enrolling and remaining at A&M. The Network is close to meeting the endowment goal of $100,000 thanks to financial sponsorship from San Jacinto College, Bank of America, the Angela Arterberry-Chapman Foundation, Bright Legacy, Schlumberger and several donations from former students.
“Lots of former students, regardless of race, have come together to support this effort,” Davis-Rouse said. “To me, that says so much. It’s one community of Aggies wanting to help another community that’s part of the greater community. This Gala has been successful on the efforts of not just a few, but of many.”