When I graduate this coming spring semester, it will be the end of three tumultuous, yet transformative, years at Texas A&M.
I’m proud to receive this ring. I’m proud of the work it took academically, of course, but this ring also represents the massive changes I underwent these past few years. It’s strange to think it will only have been three years, roughly two and a half at the time of writing this, since graduating high school by the time I leave A&M with this ring.
I came into A&M in the fall of 2019 with a pretty quintessential freshman year as an Aggie. I had an in-person New Student Conference. I survived the food at Fish Camp and found the rich traditions and sense of community that I had been left wanting for during my high school years. I joined, and quit, a Freshman Leadership Organization, had all of my free time taken up by the Mock Trial team, chose 17-hour semesters instead of sleep, crashed on Veorides and spent plenty of my time in typical freshman spots at Sbisa, the Commons and the Memorial Student Center to name a few.
I’m grateful for having that experience before things fell apart for a while. My great-grandfather, William A. Moore, was in the Corps of Cadets from 1938 to 1941 before serving in World War II on the frontlines of D-Day and 10 amphibious landings that followed. Imagining myself in his shoes after graduating next semester is infinitely more daunting than the challenge of finding “normalcy” and a career amid the COVID-19 pandemic. My great uncle, David L. Moore, was also at A&M and in the Corps from 1968 to 1972, like many of my cousins and distant relatives. So at the very least, I’m grateful for the chance to have a “normal” Aggie experience — something that will connect me to those ancestors, just as this ring will induct me into the Aggie Family abroad.
Whereas my freshman year I grew into the cliché “next step” of leaving home, my sophomore year was marked by overcoming life-long mental health challenges, allowing me to now be happier and a more fulfilled person than ever. Being left by myself for months on end forced me to take a good look at my feelings, my aspirations and the kind of person I’ve been to others. Maybe after that glow-up there have been some upsides to the pandemic. This ring will always remind me of that period and those challenges, and whatever else I may face going forward. It’ll also be a nice piece of jewelry to add to my wardrobe.
This year, I feel I’ve really come into my own. By joining The Battalion, I’ve felt more satisfied with life than ever before, and I hope I can carry this sense of purpose with me beyond graduation. I’ve had my fair share of criticisms of the university these past few years, but that doesn’t change the fact it has served as my anchor. It’s taken time to find repose from my anxieties about what life ahead holds, although I’m confident my Aggie Ring will be a constant reminder of how far I’ve come and the lasting communities that will continue to support me along the way. It’s okay to be scared. As many of my loved ones have taught me, you’ll never be alone.
Thank you Dad, Mom, Sarah, Grandmama, Papa and Granddad — I wouldn’t be here without you.
Thank you Bryson, Neo, Amanda, Henry, Jake Davis, Jake Brien, everyone in Mock Trial and Canterbury, Jules and Spencer. You’ve saved my life.
P.S. Don’t accept credits to graduate early unless you need to — you never know if a pandemic will throw a wrench in your plans.
Nathan Varnell is a political science junior and assistant news editor for The Battalion.