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I gasped for air and debated using my 12th Man towel as a sweat rag as I surmounted the stairs to the second deck of Kyle Field. It was my first Aggie football game as a freshman in 2021, and we happened to be playing our most formidable opponent: Alabama. “We’re almost there,” Anna yelled over the crowd. She was the first friend I made at Texas A&M University and my guide for the day. I huffed out an “OK” and continued my labored climb to the third deck.

Once we settled into our place among the sea of maroon shirts, cowboy boots and white towels, Anna started rattling off all the game day traditions I needed to know. “Don’t sit down, and wave your towel like this when everyone else does, and don’t forget to...” she trailed off as the whistle signaled the start of play.

As the clock ran on, the environment was electric. Everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs for all four quarters. Music, yells and a healthy amount of towel threads filled the air. I don’t know much about football, but with two minutes left, I could tell we had a chance to win. When Seth Small ’22 kicked the game-winning field goal, the stadium shook as more than 106,000 fans let loose ear-piercing screams. Someone got so excited in the chaos that they hurled a water jug in the air and accidentally clocked me in the head.

Head injury aside, I had never felt more connected with so many people than at that moment. As I linked arms with a perfect stranger to sing “The Aggie War Hymn,” I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. My friends and I made the 2-mile trek home, and all I could think about was the feeling I had in that stadium.

Scenes from Texas A&M vs. Alabama on October 9, 2021

Just months before, I had no idea what an Aggie was or what it meant to “Gig ’em.” I didn’t go to Fish Camp and only toured campus once before enrolling. Somehow, this university of 70,000 people had managed to pull me into its community, traditions and culture in very little time. If you had told me five years ago that I would be giving a thumbs-up with pride, spinning a towel like mad and swaying with strangers, I would have been baffled.

Today, I have an amazing group of friends and am involved in several student organizations, including a sorority. You never know where you’ll end up, but I’m glad I ended up here as a Fightin’ Texas Aggie. As the old saying goes, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

Born into a military family, Tiarra Drisker ’25 likes to say she is from a little bit of everywhere. A communication major, she is a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi and is involved with the Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee. In her free time, she crochets, reads science fiction and watches Abbott Elementary.

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