June 18, 2024

Bryan Blowers ’26 is very intentional about his college experience. Not only is the recipient of the Mike C. Dillingham ’35 General Rudder Scholarship diving into his academic studies in environmental design, but he has also taken advantage of opportunities such as the Corps of Cadets, the Fish Drill Team, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, Student Bonfire, Aggie Replant and Camp Arch to build new skills and refine his self-concept. Despite his busy schedule, the cadet made time to catch up with us and share more about his Aggie experience.

You grew up in Woodbine, Maryland, but chose Texas A&M University. Why?

It started as a COVID pet project during my sophomore year of high school when my parents said, “You’re home all day anyway, so why don’t you start researching colleges?” I focused on two things: marching bands as a social and cultural basis for the university and then the institution’s architecture programs. I found a perfect balance at Texas A&M in what I wanted to study, the environment I wanted to grow in and my desire to try something new.

What drew you to studying architecture and environmental design?

I enjoy math and art, which are foundational in architecture, so I attended a rudimentary camp at the University of Maryland where we designed our dream houses. That was the baseline where I got hands-on architecture experience, and I wanted to learn more.

Environmental design is a holistic understanding of how we interact with built and natural environments alike. Aside from buildings, it’s architecture that focuses on the effects of landscaping, overall ecological impact and planning as a whole.

How has Texas A&M’s culture affected you?

The bonds made through the Corps’ training and traditions, such as Silver Taps, evoke a higher level of feeling because it causes you to pause and reflect on the things you’re doing. Being here for two years, I have a greater understanding of myself, my faith and the world, and that wouldn’t have been possible in a different kind of community or social circle.

Can you describe your greater understanding?

The biggest thing is that I didn’t have real faith in anything, but I’ve started to attend church with my Corps buddies and have in-depth discussions with them. As a result, we’ve deepened our relationships, which has helped me learn more about what shaped them into the people they are today. That, in turn, led to them sharing their faith with me and inviting me to join Aggie Valor, an on-the-Quad Bible study, among other things.

How have you used these experiences to help other cadets?

In my meetings with my fish last academic year, we discussed their motivations, interests and areas of improvement. Their challenges were typically rooted in Corps or academic performance, but as we fostered the professional side of our relationship, they began to open up more about their thought processes and approaches to the experiences they faced as new students. My job was to pose thought-provoking questions for them to reflect on. Some directly applied these reflections in a spiritual way, but others used them more as general life lessons.

You were on the Fish Drill Team. What was that like?

Coming into Texas A&M, I decided to throw myself into every opportunity available—and during my freshman year, that meant competing with the Fish Drill Team. Because of the team’s record of winning 14 consecutive championships, failure to any degree was not taken lightly. If we messed up, we did push-ups, ran a lap or similar. Leadership’s goal was to make us better so we could handle any challenge they threw at us. It was a good experience because it taught me the value of self-discipline.

Tell me about being a member of the Aggie Band.

I auditioned to play the trumpet the spring before my fish year at my “Spend the Night with the Corps” recruiting event. These events dedicate time for prospects to audition with an Aggie Band director. Luckily, I received an email no more than two weeks later saying I made the cut.

Since joining the band, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that no matter where you come from, there’s always a different approach to something. I was accustomed to marching straight-legged, but here we march military-style. It took all of fall orientation week to reteach myself how to march.

Why are your Corps buddies and others you’ve met at Texas A&M important to you?

We get to support each other during a stage of life when big changes are taking place. These are people who know everything about me in all aspects, and I think that’s what makes Aggies a family. Once I graduate, I’ll have all these people—whether we shared the exact same experience or not—who I’ll be connected with for life.

What has Mr. Dillingham’s gift meant to you?

The Dillingham scholarship has lightened my financial burden as a student. Especially with pursuing a degree in Environmental Design Architecture Studies, my path to becoming a licensed professional goes far beyond a bachelor’s degree, so having support from former students who were in my shoes means a lot. With this scholarship, I can focus on leading my peers, pursuing new opportunities and growing myself, rather than worrying about simply getting by.

The idea of Aggies helping Aggies is two-fold. First, the selflessness it takes to give, especially at the scale many Ags do, is astonishing and only highlights their character. Second, it frees Aggies on the receiving end to make the most of their experiences, work to become better people and be more likely to give back someday themselves. It’s just one more way Texas A&M stands above the rest.

If Mr. Dillingham were alive today, what would you say to him?

I would want to know who he is behind all his accomplishments. What lessons did he learn? What values changed or stayed the same? What did Texas A&M teach him? That’s the important conversation—and I would be curious to ask him those questions.

Want to plan an estate gift that will benefit you and future generations of Aggie cadets like Bryan? Contact Amy Bacon ’91 below.


The Legacy of Mike Dillingham ’35

Like Bryan, Mike Dillingham ’35 knew a good opportunity when he saw it. He was part of Texas A&M’s first petroleum engineering class, played on the 1934 Southwest Conference Championship baseball team and was one of the first donors to the President’s Endowed Scholarship program.

Similarly, Dillingham and his wife, Georgia, realized that a charitable gift annuity (CGA) was an ideal opportunity to create a philanthropic legacy while also ensuring their financial needs were met.

Drawn to the giving method’s tax advantages and fixed lifetime payments, the Dillinghams first used a CGA for their benefit in 2004. They cashed out $50,000 in tax-free municipal bonds that paid approximately 5% and converted these funds into a CGA that paid more than 11% based on Dillingham’s age. The remainder was used to endow their scholarship fund after he passed away in 2015.

The former student created five CGAs during his lifetime. And if he were still here today, chances are he’d be considering another CGA since the 2024 rates are the highest they’ve been in 16 years. “These gift annuities are so good,” Dillingham once testified. “Why doesn’t every Aggie have one?”

Contact our team for the latest rates for your age and to see if a CGA is ideal for you!