February 14, 2022


Anna Thottumkal ’23 is making up for lost time. The Missouri City, Texas, resident transferred to Texas A&M University as a sophomore, so she missed Fish Camp and other relationship-building freshman activities. And because of COVID-19, the first-generation college student has had limited opportunities to connect with other Aggies.

“This funding serves as a catalyst for me to try new things.”
– Anna Thottumkal ’23

And student interest in these types of experiences is growing. “This fall, the participation numbers for Fish Camp, Howdy Week, Freshman Leadership Organizations and Midnight Yell were very, very high,” Dobiyanski added. “There is an increased yearning for these types of experiences.”

Investing in Experience

That’s where the Aggie Experience Fund comes in. The fund supports undergraduate and graduate students’ participation in recognized campus organizations, committees or programs, including Extended Orientation programs (Fish Camp, T-Camp, Howdy Camp, Ventures Camp and Grad Camp), Memorial Student Center programs, Freshman Leadership Organizations, The Big Event leadership, Fish Camp leadership, sports club fees, fraternity/sorority fees and leadership conference fees. Students can apply to receive $250 or 50% of the program cost, with a lifetime limit of $1,500 per student. The first funds were awarded during the spring 2022 semester.

The fund is supported by the Anne ’90 and Mike Hachtman ’86 Aggie Experience Endowed Fund, the Erika ’14 and Chris Pesek ’97 Aggie Experience Endowed Fund, and small non-endowed gifts. These gifts are administered through the Texas A&M Foundation.


Through the Aggie Experience Fund, students can receive $250 or 50% of the program cost to participate in recognized campus organizations, committees or programs.

Realizing the power of Texas A&M’s “other education,” these lead donors want future generations of Aggies to have extracurricular experiences so they can step into leadership roles in society. “Despite the fact that the school is markedly bigger than it was in my day, the mission of the university remains the same,” Mike Hachtman said. “Part of that mission includes educating future leaders for Texas—men and women who can assume roles in leadership, responsibility and service to society. You don’t learn all of that solely from a classroom or a book.”

Finding Lifelong Friends

For some students, these experiences and the opportunity to build connection have taken on added importance during the pandemic. After transferring to Texas A&M as a sophomore, Alaicia Sauser ’23 wanted to find a group to join. The public health major decided to follow the advice of her best friend’s mother, who encouraged Sauser to join a sorority because of the opportunity to be part of a like-minded community.  

Because of COVID-19, sorority recruitment was only online and Sauser never had the opportunity for in-person conversations. However, she felt a genuine connection with Delta Zeta and decided to pledge.

The sorority’s activities remained online until spring 2021 when in-person activities resumed. Since then, Sauser has joined Delta Zeta’s in-person Bible study, workout class and Craws for a Cause philanthropic event. She also took her parents to the sorority’s Tailgate for Dads event during football season and assisted with its 2021 recruitment efforts. “Honestly, I would not have made this network of friends without Delta Zeta,” she said.