When it came time to select a college, Grace Vaughn ’23 was set on attending the United States Air Force Academy, but she was disqualified at the last minute. At that point, she turned to her mother’s alma mater, Texas A&M. “I knew I wanted to be part of a big school culture with a rich history, tradition and so many opportunities,” she said.
Yet Vaughn’s parents, who have seven children, weren’t sure if they could afford Texas A&M. The Houston-area family decided to take it semester by semester, and Vaughn applied for and received scholarships and internships over the years to help pay for her education.
Attending Texas A&M gave Vaughn many opportunities to grow as a person. Her first challenge arose as an incoming freshman when a friend died by suicide right before Vaughn began the Corps of Cadets’ Freshman Orientation Week. Vaughn credits the combination of these events for teaching her how to be independent and resilient in the face of challenges.
She also took the advice of friends and mentors who invited her to participate in various campus organizations, such as the Muster Committee. “What’s defined my Aggie experience is other Aggies helping me when I didn’t have much guidance from others,” she said. “I’ve learned so much from these experiences.”
Recommendations from peers led her to join the Texas A&M Foundation’s Maroon Coats, which she believes is the most impactful involvement she’s had on campus. “I saw how much all the Maroon Coats absolutely love Texas A&M,” she said. “That was the first time I was surrounded by such high-caliber people who were investing in me in such a unique way.”
The Trustees’ Outstanding Student Award caps her college experience. Vaughn, who is earning a degree in psychology with a minor in Russian, plans to save most of the award as she prepares to embark on a management consulting career at Bain & Company.
She also leaves Aggieland with a deep sense of gratitude. “I’m grateful for my scholarships, my parents and Texas A&M’s support system all helping me to graduate and earn this degree without debt and without having to work a full-time job during college,” she said. “So many people helped me financially and personally—and they helped me develop a deep sense of wanting to do that for others.”