Anna Thottumkal ’23 is making up for lost time. As a transfer student, she missed Fish Camp and other relationship-building freshman activities and had limited opportunities to connect with other Aggies due to COVID-19.
To fill this void, the communication major was determined to participate in one of Texas A&M University’s Venture Camps, which help transfer students and freshmen form new friendships through active outdoor experiences. Yet, Aggies with limited personal budgets like Thottumkal can struggle with paying the camp’s registration fee.
That’s where the new Aggie Experience Fund comes in. The fund supports Texas A&M’s prized “other education” by giving more undergraduate and graduate students with financial need the opportunity to participate in recognized campus organizations, committees or programs.
“Being an Aggie is about much more than attending classes,” said Dr. Vicki Dobiyanski ’03, associate vice president for student affairs. “Most employers are interested in well-rounded students who can speak to their experiences and skills both inside and outside the classroom.”
Aggies can apply to receive $250 or 50% of their program’s cost, with a lifetime limit of $1,500 per student. The first grants were awarded to 346 students during the spring 2022 semester.
This fund is supported by endowments from Anne ’90 and Mike Hachtman ’86 and Erika ’14 and Chris Pesek ’97, as well as other non-endowed gifts. Recognizing that extracurricular experiences help Aggies step into leadership roles in society, Mike Hachtman hopes students in need will tap into the Aggie Experience Fund—and then contribute once they graduate.
“Part of the university’s mission includes educating young men and women who can assume roles in leadership, responsibility and service to their communities. You don’t learn that solely from a classroom or book,” Hachtman said. “When former students look back on their time at Texas A&M, they appreciate the academic education they received, but they also appreciate what they learned through student organizations. I hope they give back to the Aggie Experience Fund to ensure other students gain the same experience.”
As for Thottumkal, she’s not taking for granted the $220 she received to participate in a Venture Camp this summer, which involved backpacking in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. “I enjoyed visiting a new state and absorbing the natural beauty that surrounded me,” the first-generation college student said. “Above all, I appreciated making new friends who shared a common passion for the outdoors.”
To learn about creating an endowment to benefit the fund long term, contact Reagan Chessher ’96, senior director of development, at the bottom of this page. You can also make an online gift to the fund by clicking the button below.
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