By Sondra White, Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs
From the moment she first stepped onto the Texas A&M University campus in 1973 to the day she agreed to a major gift for the Women’s Resource Center, Lynn Hagan '77 has been an agent of change. Her ability to empower others—particularly women and young girls―through education and grassroots activism, has shaped much of her adult life.
Her $25,000 gift will create the first endowment for the Women’s Resource Center, providing funds for a variety of programs, such as Elect Her: Aggie Women Win, which encourages women to run for student government and future political office; and Salary Negotiation Workshops, which empower college women who are starting their careers to overcome the gender wage gap.
“I’ve been involved with Women’s Resource Center programs for a few years now, and have become friends with Heather Wheeler, the program coordinator and driving force behind this endeavor,” said Hagan. “My gift will enhance the great work already being done—and it is not just for women. It will benefit all Texas A&M students.”
Early Days in Aggieland
When she was still a student at Madison High School in Houston, Hagan attended an Aggie football game with a young man who was a freshman at Texas A&M. “I immediately fell in love with the whole ambiance of the place and never applied anywhere else,” she said.
She recalls a few challenges associated with being a woman at Texas A&M during the 1970s.
“PE was optional because there were no dressing rooms for women, and being called a ‘Maggie’ versus an ‘Aggie’ was pretty common,” Hagan said. “Nevertheless, back then everybody said ‘Howdy,’ and I have many positive memories. If I had an issue, I just had to deal with it and move on. We learned to work around the challenges we faced being the minority gender on campus.”
Hagan found a home in Keathley Hall, volunteering as a dormitory representative all four years of college. She was also a member of the Fencing Club.
She never imagined that Don Hagan ’76, the guy she met at a dorm mixer who lived in Hotard Hall and studied physics, would end up being her husband. This year they celebrate 41 years of marriage.
Coming of Age as an Advocate
After completing her bachelor’s degree in anthropology, Hagan worked at a nature and science center in New Orleans, where she developed an extensive children’s aerospace education program and created a summer camp for girls.
The American Association of University Women awarded her a career development grant, which allowed her to continue her studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. She completed master’s degrees in recreation and social work, and during this time worked as a mental health provider for people with chronic and acute mental illness.
Don’s career with Chevron as a geoscientist took the Hagans to Kuwait, where Lynn directed the Discovery Place, an interactive facility with educational exhibits within the Scientific Center of Kuwait.
“Living in the Middle East was further inspiration for my involvement with women’s issues,” Hagan said. She encouraged her female employees to participate in the 2005 demonstrations surrounding the Kuwaiti parliament to reinforce their need for suffrage. That same year, the government of Kuwait granted women the right to vote and run for elected office.
Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hagan provided psychological assessment and treatment for U.S. State Department employees and contractors.
“We lived in the Middle East during a turbulent time,” she said. “So much happened, including the U.S. invasion of Iraq. All of it shaped my perception of women in the world, and my place as an Aggie in it as well. It is all about selfless service. This core value transcends the university. When you live overseas, especially in situations like this, selfless service takes on a far different meaning.”
After another move to Aberdeen, Scotland, she worked as a consultant for the National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
In 2001, Hagan was the guest speaker at a brown bag seminar hosted by the Women’s Resource Center. “I talked about what it was like to be a Western woman in the Middle East after 9/11,” she said. “That’s when I seriously thought about how I could make a difference for students through the center.”
With a matching gift from Chevron (Don’s former employer), Lynn created an endowment that will fund women’s programming at Texas A&M well into the future.