Make Your Impact
Make Your Impact



On Oct. 15, 1947, a group of Aggies gathered at the Grove amphitheater to bring forth a more democratic Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Two years prior, the four elected class presidents and other enterprising cadets formed a rudimentary student council to represent their colleagues’ interests in negotiation with Corps of Cadets leadership. At the Grove, newly elected representatives set about forming a new government, the Student Senate, complete with a constitution and an unprecedented position: the president of the senate, now known as the student body president.

In the seven decades since, 76 Aggies have served as student body president, each utilizing their unique skill set, personality and priorities to help meet their fellow students’ diverse and constantly evolving needs. Five such Aggies from different periods of Texas A&M University’s history reminisced about their time representing the student body and the lessons that stayed with them long after graduation.

 

Keith Allsup ’50

Update: Following his interview but prior to the publishing of this article, Mr. Keith Allsup ’50 passed away on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020.

Growing up in an East Texas farm family, Keith Allsup ’50 knew a sparse, but simple life. “We had very little in possessions but always plenty of food,” Allsup said. “We raised or grew everything we ate. My older sister went to college on the canned goods that my family provided in exchange for her tuition.” An aspiring engineer, Allsup served just short of a year in the U.S. Navy at the tail end of World War II and used funds from the G.I. Bill to enroll at Texas A&M in 1947.

During his sophomore year in Aggieland, Allsup’s dormmates elected him as their dorm’s representative senator. “I did not have a platform,” he said. “Everyone simply looked at me to be a senator.” What Allsup lacked in bold political ideas, he made up for in his peers’ trust; after representing another dorm during his junior year, he was elected student body president.

In contrast to the hustle and bustle of the modern student body president’s schedule, Allsup’s executive position bore little weight on his day-to-day campus experiences. However, he dearly remembers the opportunities he had to meet with Aggies and students at neighboring universities. “The education and social activities broadened my horizons coming from a small, close-knit farm community,” he said.

After graduating with a degree in architectural construction, Allsup was recruited to join the CIA, where he was met with a pleasant surprise at training camp: Of the 58 men he trained with, 26 were Aggies just like him.

 

Fred McClure ’76

Times were changing at Texas A&M in the mid-1970s. Women joined the Corps of Cadets in earnest for the first time, the administration mulled over officially recognizing fraternities and sororities, and the surging student population threatened to outgrow existing campus accommodations.

Fred McClure ’76 saw the need for a leader who could represent the student body with a steady hand. “I thought I could be an advocate and help resolve the issues students were facing,” McClure said.

Encouraged to lead by his educator parents, McClure was heavily involved in FFA throughout high school, at one point serving as its national secretary. His agricultural leadership background helped him make connections across Texas A&M’s campus—connections that ensured success during his campaign to become the university’s first Black student body president.

On the night he was elected, McClure made a late-night call to his friend, Steve Eberhard ’75, who held the position two years prior and was then a grad student at Harvard Business School. McClure broke the news to a drowsy Eberhard, and followed up with the question: “What do I do now?” Eberhard answered: “You’ll figure it out, McClure.”

McClure took Eberhard’s assurance to heart. During his tenure, he practiced gathering information from different sources and considering all viewpoints when making a decision. Through this and other practices, he developed a leadership philosophy that he later utilized as an advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In 1991, McClure was named the 115th Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M.

 

Will Hurd ’99

Early morning on Nov. 18, 1999, Will Hurd ’99 awoke to a phone call with news that felt like it came from a nightmare. Moments earlier, the 59-foot-tall Bonfire stack collapsed, trapping student workers beneath its heavy logs. Hurd rushed to the scene, where he was tasked with organizing student volunteers fighting to save their fellow Aggies from the rubble.

From that morning until the end of his term in April, Hurd’s time as student body president revolved around building community in the aftermath of tragedy. “We had to grieve together,” Hurd said. The raw emotion of the event did not hit him, he said, until after the football game against The University of Texas two weeks later. “To this day, it’s hard for me not to hear the song ‘Amazing Grace’ without tearing up remembering when it was played that day and during the other memorial services.”

After serving the Texas A&M community in its time of need, Hurd spent nine years working for the CIA before transitioning to politics. Since 2015, he has represented Texas’ 23rd district in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he has received praise for his bipartisan leadership.

As he works with other members of Congress to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurd draws from the lessons he learned 21 years ago. Though those lessons made him the leader he is now, he made one point clear: “I would give back every experience I gained if it meant those 12 students could still be alive today.”

 

Mark Gold ’09

Hailing from the small town of Palestine, Texas, where his father served the local community as an ophthalmologist, Mark Gold ’09 arrived at Texas A&M without any leadership experience or larger expectations beyond earning his biomedical science degree. However, his openness to new experiences led him to opportunities that quickly shifted his perspective.

During Gold’s first semester, he applied to Fish Aides, a freshman leadership organization within the Student Government Association. “I had zero interest in student government at the time,” Gold said, “but I liked what the organization was doing and thought I could acquire some leadership skills.” After he was accepted, Gold was placed on a freshmen committee to help organize The Big Event.

The experience was transformational. “I had never seen peers my age organizing something the size of The Big Event,” Gold said. Having seen the kind of impact Aggies could make when collaborating, he pursued further leadership opportunities within student government, culminating in his successful campaign for student body president.

Gold went on to attend medical school at the University of Texas in Houston, where he trained to follow in his father’s footsteps as an ophthalmologist. He has since returned to his father’s practice in Palestine and embarked on mission trips to provide eye surgeries for patients in Haiti and Peru. In his office, he proudly displays souvenirs from his time in College Station and remembers the place that taught him to never doubt the change he can make in others’ lives.

 

Hannah Wimberly ’17                                                               

Tensions ran high at the Wimberly household on election night. For months, twin sisters Claire ’17 and Hannah ’17 treated their family home as campaign headquarters for their respective senior class president and student body president races, and now the moment of truth was at hand for both. “I think our mom was sick to her stomach that night,” Hannah said, “because there were a lot of different ways the results could have gone.”

To their mother’s elation, the final results declared victory for both sisters. Claire and Hannah celebrated each other’s wins, and Texas A&M celebrated a historic milestone. A few weeks prior to election night, Cecille Sorio ’17 became Corps commander. For the first time in Texas A&M history, women held all three top leadership positions in student government.

Though Hannah was proud of her part in that milestone, she wanted students to judge her first by her ability to lead. “While campaigning, I told people, ‘Don’t vote for me just because I’m a woman; vote for me because I’m a woman who has the experience for this position,’” she explained. She did not fully appreciate the moment, she said, until a photoshoot with Claire and Sorio commemorating the landmark occasion. A passerby asked what the shoot was for, and the photographer simply explained that it was “for the history books.”

As Hannah utilizes the interpersonal skills she developed in student government to excel in the business world, she remains ever grateful for the unique mark she left on Aggieland. “I had the opportunity to interact with more students than I ever would have otherwise,” she said. “Representing the Aggie student body was the greatest honor of my life.”

The Texas A&M Student Government Association (SGA) provides unique opportunities for students to build relationships, enhance leadership skills, become civically engaged, maximize their college experiences, and develop the six Aggie core values. Learn how you can support Texas A&M SGA by contacting Megan Pulliam '09, director of development for the Division of Student Affairs, using the form below.

 

Contact:

Megan Pulliam '09

Director of Development, Student Affairs
Division of Student Affairs
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