March 7, 2021

Did you know that in 2020 women made up 17% of the Corps with 400 female cadets enrolled of the total 2,315 members?

In the words of the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, former Supreme Court Justice and a key leader in women’s empowerment, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Ginsberg was an essential advocate for women and a role model to many. Women throughout the United States support her vision and volunteer their time, talents and assets to help other women become high achieving leaders in America.

One of those women is a born and raised Texan, Rebecca Brune, who has planned an estate gift to aid the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets in efforts to bridge the gap she sees between male and female intelligence workers.

Raised Rural

Although she’s not an Aggie, Brune has always considered herself one. Her grandfather and father had strong ties to Texas A&M through their ranch in Sealy, Texas, where they farmed cattle, cotton, corn and mules into the mid-1900s. Representatives from the Texas Agriculture Extension Service at Texas A&M—now known as the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service—often visited Brune’s family ranch to plant various strains of cotton and corn to supply yield information. As time progressed, the family’s relationship with Texas A&M grew, as did their farming success, leading her father to later become president of the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Brune learned valuable life lessons working alongside her father and grandfather. Meanwhile, observing the extension agents’ passionate work strengthened her admiration for Texas A&M. Her parents also valued public service, which influenced how Brune spent her time and money. “They worked to shape laws that affected agricultural property owners across America, including citizens in Austin County and Sealy, and that taught me from a young age to be proactive in areas I’m passionate about,” Brune shared.

Although an Aggie at heart, after high school, Brune pursued a degree in government with an interest in international affairs from The University of Texas at Austin. She was later accepted to the University of Texas’ double MBA program in accounting and management. This gave her the opportunity to work for one of the largest public accounting firms in the nation, Coopers and Lybrand, as an auditor. She soon found another passion in private investing, but—while this became her career—her interest in international affairs never faded.

Giving Spirit

Looking to follow her parents’ lead in taking an active role in public service, Brune began to consider ways she could use her hard-earned resources to make a difference and support her passions. A meeting with a Texas A&M Foundation gift planning officer inspired her to plan an estate gift that will help shape the future of international affairs and the intelligence sector. The Rebecca Brune Corps of Cadets Endowed Scholarship Honoring Women in the Corps will support driven and passionate cadets wanting to represent the United States and keep Americans safe. “My hard work affords me the ability to contribute to the future of young cadets who seek leadership roles,” she said, mentioning that she hopes her scholarship will be awarded to women interested in areas such as cryptography, languages, signals, data analysis, business, engineering and technology.

Brune has taken a special interest in the university’s Corps Global Leadership Initiative, a program designed to build the next generation of leaders for the U.S. military, government and business sectors by developing a context of international awareness, regional expertise and language competence among cadets. She also sees tremendous value in the Corps of Cadets Cyber Operations Special Unit, which trains cadets in the technical knowledge required to work in cybersecurity and offers them the opportunity to earn multiple certificates in various areas of the intelligence field.

Making History

Driven by her patriotism and belief in the ability of women to make great contributions to America, Brune hopes her future scholarship will be awarded to women cadets to empower them and also alleviate the financial hardship that higher education brings. “I want to help develop young women who seek to protect and prosper America,” she said. The values Brune sees manifested in young Texas A&M graduates are exemplary. “These women are the people who I want as neighbors, as leaders of our industries and as occupants of the highest public offices.”

Brune explained that her own professional struggles, including a lack of mentorship and a lack of leadership training in certain jobs, inspired her to make this gift to help break the cycle of women believing they can’t succeed in a male-dominated field. “Women want to participate and contribute but have often been ill prepared and viewed as ‘not as good as’ in many instances,” she concluded. “I want to empower them to believe they are smart enough, strong enough and good enough.”


Flourishing in the Face
of Adversity 

In honor of International Women’s Day, enjoy these facts about women who made Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets history.

Did you know…

  • Ruth Ann (Schumacher) Burns '77 became the first female ROTC company commander of the W-1 outfit at Texas A&M in 1976.
  • Gail Sedberry '77 was the first African American woman to be enrolled in the W-1 outfit of the Corps of Cadets.
  • In 1983, Dr. Bonnie (Krumpotic) Thwaits '85 was the first female appointed to a brigade-level post in the Corps.
  • The Texas Aggie Band’s first female members made their debut during the halftime show in the 1985 game against Northeast Louisiana.
  • Mandy (Shubert) Scott '86 became the first Deputy Corps Commander in 1987.
  • Once W-1 was disbanded, the first two gender-integrated Corps units, G-1 and Squadron 9, were formed, the latter commanded by Col. Trisha (Sexton)
    Torres '91.
  • In 1994, Dr. Toni Butler '94 became the first Black female commanding officer of a co-ed company, the G-1 Apaches.
  • Cynthia Ericson '97 was the first woman to become a member of both the Ross Volunteers and the Parsons Mounted Cavalry.
  • In 2015, after a 139-year tradition, 21-year-old Alyssa (Michalke) Stipek '16 became Texas A&M’s first female Corps Commander. San Antonio native Cecille Sorio '17 followed in 2016.

To learn more about planning a scholarship for the Corps of Cadets or how to make an impact on Aggie women, contact Amy Bacon ’91 by completing the form below.

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