The air thick with restless anticipation, I stood surrounded by Aggies next to the 12th Man statue, eager to hear the results of the 2022 student body elections. The crowd’s anxious chatter silenced as the election commissioner took the microphone, ready to announce Texas A&M University’s next student leaders.
As the names were called, I experienced a growing sense of suspense and unease. After what felt like forever, I finally heard the words, “for the Class of 2024, or Junior Class President...” Two weeks of campaigning circled through my mind: Lifelong friendships, invaluable conversations, exciting speaking engagements and diligent planning had led me to this moment. While I wish I could finish that sentence with “Mamie Hertel,” that was not the name spoken that evening.
As my nervous excitement fizzled into disappointment, I went home and allowed myself to feel down for one evening before picking up and moving on. I reminded myself of how much I cherished campaigning and thanked the Aggies who had supported me. A week later, I unexpectedly received an email from Stephanie Hertzog ’96, for whom I had written a brief biography in a Texas A&M Foundation article highlighting successful women in engineering.
“I saw on LinkedIn that you ran for class president, and I assume from your nod to Christian, you didn’t win. I just wanted to let you know I’m so impressed you put yourself out there. I didn’t have the courage to run for class office at Texas A&M. I still remember when Brooke (Leslie) Rollins ’94 was elected the first female student body president when I was a student. Women so rarely won any kind of elected position when I was there. It’s great to see more women running, and eventually, we’ll win our share. Life’s disappointments shape us—in many ways, more so than our successes. Keep going for it!”
Despite our interactions being limited to a handful of emails, Stephanie’s words are on my bathroom mirror to read every day. Her advice encourages me to be vulnerable and to know both success and failure. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “[the credit belongs to the man] who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Thank you, Stephanie, for reminding me to put myself in the arena, dare greatly and learn from my failures just as much as my successes.