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Spirit is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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Maroon Coats

Buttoned Up

Twenty students were inducted into the 10th class of Maroon Coats during a coating ceremony held April 9 at the Jon L. Hagler Center.

From serving in the armed forces to cheering on a favorite sports team, wearing a uniform is one of the most visible ways for an individual to demonstrate his or her values. When student ambassadors of the Texas A&M Foundation don their maroon coats, they embrace a unique role as representatives of Texas A&M University.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Maroon Coats were the brainchild of former Texas A&M Foundation President Dr. Ed Davis ’67, who envisioned students who would serve as ambassadors for the Foundation. A decade later, more than 180 Texas A&M students have called themselves Maroon Coats.

The Maroon Coats enhance the impact of the Foundation through stewardship and selfless service. They thank donors for their gifts through handwritten letters and personal phone calls, interact with guests at Foundation and university-sponsored events, and provide campus tours to donors and prospective students alike. In 2014, the organization also began hosting the Student Organization Advancement Conference, which provides an opportunity for students to learn about creating endowments for their organizations through the Foundation.

Despite growth and changes, one constant remains: Maroon Coats are student leaders from diverse disciplines who are passionate about Texas A&M and active in a range of activities. Seven Yell Leaders and seven student body presidents have earned coats, but it’s not just multigenerational Aggies and Texas residents who feel drawn to this service-oriented group: Maroon Coats come from all over the nation and world, even as far away as Germany and Venezuela.

As the organization continues to make a name for itself on campus, wearing the maroon coat has become a highly sought-after honor. In 2017, 386 students applied to fill 20 coveted spots.

Aggie in the Big Apple

Participating in the Maroon Coats is about much more than socializing and service; it’s also about preparing students for the demands of the working world. Many members go on to careers in public, private and government industries, and connect their success to their time in the organization.
 

Now as manager of employee development, Knesek strengthens the company’s manpower pipeline by working on a variety of projects that ultimately build a stronger employee experience. She oversees programs and opportunities that ensure employees develop as both people and professionals.

From Coat to Career

Knesek credits her preparedness for working at Fox to her time at Texas A&M, an institution that deeply values growth and development. “I was fortunate to participate in and lead organizations that expanded my passions and perspectives through networking and traveling,” she said. “I benefited from amazing guidance throughout my education, and toward the end, a few Aggies I met through Maroon Coats encouraged me to pursue this opportunity at Fox—and I’m so glad I did.”

Maroon Coats Then and Now...

  • Amber Arseneaux ’09

    As an agricultural leadership and development major at Texas A&M, Amber learned through Maroon Coats that she could combine her passion for Texas farming and ranching with the spirit of philanthropy. Now the development director for Texas Land Conservancy, Amber utilizes the experiences she gained as a Maroon Coat to solicit and thank donors to her organization.
  • Alejandro Azocar ’14

    Being a Maroon Coat taught Alejandro that no one is a stranger if you take the time to listen. He’s now a doctoral student at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Center for Bionic Medicine.
  • Blake Barnes ’16

    Currently an associate analyst at Southwest Airlines in Dallas, Blake partly attributes his success to his involvement in Maroon Coats, which helped develop him into a man of character and integrity. His time in the organization demanded excellence and provided the assurance that he could impact the world.
  • DJ Cieply ’15

    Although Maroon Coats is not a nationally recognized organization, DJ reports that in every job interview he’s had, it is the one thing that impresses the interviewer. As a management consultant at Collective Insights in Atlanta, DJ notes that Maroon Coats prepared him to work with all types of individuals and challenged him to define his personal brand.
  • Ben Fedorko ’10

    Now a lawyer at Gray, Reed & McGraw LLP in Houston, Ben focuses on selflessly serving his clients while being an excellent lawyer and leader. Being a Maroon Coat taught Ben that it is possible to be an exemplary employee and give back to the community in meaningful ways.
  • Mina Elmalak ’09

    As the reservoir engineering lead for Concho Resources in Midland, Mina credits the Maroon Coats with developing his communication skills and confidence. The Maroon Coats gave him a sense of pride that he was a part of something much greater than himself.
  • Eric Gil ’14

    Thanks to his leadership skills and his ability to navigate stressful situations—skills he acquired as a Maroon Coat and as a member of Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets—Eric was selected to fly MV-22 Ospreys for the United States Marine Corps, where he serves as a student naval aviator, 1st Lieutenant.
  • Jillian Green '10

    Jillian works as an accounting manager for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in Houston.
  • Jeffrey Gregory ’12

    In his experience as a Maroon Coat, Jeffrey learned the importance of different people and their value to the mission of an organization—a lesson still valuable to him today as a mechanical engineer at Chevron in Houston, where he works alongside colleagues from vastly different countries and cultures.
  • Dustin Henry ’08

    In January 2016, Dustin relocated with his wife Caitie Robertson Henry ‘11 to the Netherlands to work as the senior project lead for Shell Oil Company on a new assignment acquiring BG Group. The leadership abilities Dustin gained during his time as a Maroon Coat aided his ability to take on this new project. Dustin believes the Texas A&M core values of excellence, integrity, respect, leadership and loyalty shaped him into the man he is.
  • Clayton Kruger ’12

    To Clayton, selfless service is the most valuable skill he learned as a Maroon Coat. Now a second-year medical student at the Texas A&M University College of Medicine, Clayton credits the Maroon Coats with developing his sense of professionalism.
  • Pristine Lampard ’12

    During her time with Maroon Coats, Pristine gained a new appreciation for social ventures and organizations that provide positive opportunities for others. She works now as the special projects manager for Akilah Group, a Hong Kong based company that uses technology and education to transform African communities. Her Texas A&M experience showed her the true value that empowerment, education and leadership opportunities can provide for students around the world.
  • Caroline (Janssen) Lengyel ’14

    Currently the strategy manager for Will Reed Jobs in Kingsville, Texas, Caroline credits her ability to remain true to her personal values to the Maroon Coats. From the donors she interacted with, Caroline learned to always set goals with the purpose of serving others.
  • Glenn Phillips ’01

    As an institutional researcher for the University of Texas at Arlington, Glenn still applies knowledge gained from his time in Maroon Coats to his career today. The majority of his research focuses on the experiences of student veterans, but his involvement with Maroon Coats led him to conduct research on millennial giving and undergraduate philanthropy. As a doctoral student during his tenure in Maroon Coats, Glenn learned about finance in higher education.
  • Casey Schaefer ’10

    Now an employee of CBRE Student Housing in Dallas, Casey utilizes the skills he gained as a Maroon Coat—such as leadership and the appreciation of diversity—in everyday business deals.
  • Brian Skulski ’16

    Brian, a financial professional for AXA Advisors LLC in Austin, has built a career based on relationships and interactions with people from all walks of life. Being a Maroon Coat gave Brian the ability to interact with diverse groups of people and to work for the betterment of a higher organization.
  • Steven Spriggs ’13

    Being a Maroon Coat reinforced the lesson that Steven’s parents instilled in him throughout his life: Everyone has to step up to the plate and help others. Now a law clerk for Jones Day in Washington, D.C., Steven lives out this core value by engaging in pro bono work. Being a Maroon Coat showed him the value of making others feel welcome, appreciated and heard. The organization also demonstrated the importance of recognizing everyone and anyone who deserves a thanks.
  • Deanna Bosse Zwilling '13

    As the chemistry account manager for Monsanto Company, Deanna has utilized the communication skills gained from Maroon Coats to help further her organization. Through Maroon Coats, Deanna learned how to be a leader among leaders and embody the Aggie core values through everything she does.