Picture this: The first floor of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is filled with tables draped in elegant black linen, complete with the smooth sounds of a string quartet lightly playing in the background, coupled with the aroma of assorted hors d’oeuvres tempting your palate. The focal point of the evening was a beautiful chocolate and vanilla cake surrounded by luscious chocolate covered strawberries atop the famous mural depicting the diversity of Texas History. How fitting for an evening designated to celebrate the birthday of Sam Houston. Men and women from the Texas State University System, Texas Legislators and staff, as well as the distinguished alumni from Sam Houston State University all gathered together in his honor. As a college freshman, and a prospective Junior Fellow, I was immensely honored to be a part of it.
My favorite part of the night was interacting with the alumi. As a freshman, it was amazing for me to see their Bearkat pride—still as strong as when they were students. Their eyes lighted up when they talked about their time at SHSU, and one specifically referred to those years as “the best years of my life.” It means a lot to students to have alumni believe in their alma mater, and believe in its motto: “The measure of a life is its service.” By continuing to participate in events such as the Sam Houston Birthday Celebration, they give back to the University, and they help ensure the future success of current students.
One of the evening’s highlights was meeting the TSUS Vice Chancellor of Governmental Relations, Sean Cunningham. Jessica Rodriguez (a veteran Junior Fellow) and I had the pleasure of conversing with Vice Chancellor Cunningham, and he took time to get to know us and to offer us tips for success. It was truly inspiring to hear such encouraging words coming from a man who himself overcame adversity to be successful.
We also had the chance to meet alumni Blake Roach and Emily Johnson; Mayor Mac Woodward and his wife, Leanne; alumnus John Hoyt; Provost Jaimie Hebert; Dean John de Castro; and we even took a picture with President Gibson.
We also met some peers. The Austin Interns—Annel Gonzalez, Melva Gomez, Bianca Kyle, Jessica Oswald, Miranda Landsman, and Jeremiah Bailey—were there, and they seem to be doing quite well. Several have been promoted to “Legislative Aide,” some are writing legislation, and all are an inspiration. It was a great night.
It was a privilege to attend this event, and we are very grateful for the staff at Alumni Relations, particularly Charlie Vienne, Casey Hughes, and Justin Haynes, for allowing us to assist. We’d also like to thank the President’s Office, particularly Maggie Collum, for inviting us and giving us helpful advice. They all created enormous positive energy, and provided a model for students such as myself who want to make a difference and hope to have a future engagement with the Capitol!