Squadron commanding officer reflects on her time in the Corps
Jessica Simmons ’07

Can I do this?

That was the first thought I had one Sunday morning in August 2003. I was standing in a room with 24 other people who were bound to become some of my best friends. My only other clear, solid recollection was of my 1st Sergeant walking into the room and telling us all to give him and the Corps of Cadets four years. Next, the yelling commenced and so began my fish year in the Corps.

Can I do this? was still the first thought I had in August of 2006, but this time it was before I introduced myself as the commanding officer of Squadron 3 to a group of my new freshmen’s parents.

People always ask me if it is a different experience being a female commander in the Corps of Cadets. In previous encounters with this question, I would become frustrated and say, “No.” Upon self-reflection, I will now say, “Yes, it is different.” I feel like I am fortunate to experience the differences. My male commander counterparts probably have not been able to meet as many interesting Aggies as I have, they probably have not been able to represent the Corps of Cadets at university functions since people want to see what I jokingly refer to as “the token female cadet,” and they probably have not been able to mentor as many cadets outside of their outfit as I have.

No matter where I go, other female cadets are watching me, just like I watched successful women in the Corps when I was an underclassman. These experiences make being the only female commander different, but my responsibilities to my outfit are the same.

The traditions of loyalty, honor, respect and camaraderie are still, in my opinion, alive and well in today’s Corps. It is evident in the amount of cadets serving the university off the Quad in other student organizations, the number of male cadets who give up their seat on a campus bus, and how often cadets find time in their busy schedules to just hang out with buddies at night to cultivate lasting friendships.

The Corps also has a tradition to continually train new leaders. This is generally done in a way that references previous experiences with training. I sometimes think that new ideas to approach this task are never explored because there is always a precedent people feel they must follow.

My advantage to being a female commander is that there is no precedent I specifically have to follow. This has opened a door to a new training philosophy in Squadron 3 that does not rely solely on what people before me have done, but it encourages us to look at what our freshmen need. Putting people first and serving others is what, I believe, enabled my outfit to differentiate ourselves from other outfits and be the recipient of the inaugural Robert M. Gates Award for Public Service.
The lesson of service to others is singularly the greatest lesson the Corps of Cadets has taught me and clearly one that I know will carry me beyond the confines of the Quad at Texas A&M.

I distinctly remember sitting in my room after my fish year, staring at what I once referred to as a “Me Wall” which displayed plaques and awards from high school and college. I thought about what I had just gone through as a fish in the Corps and how I had learned to follow and put the needs of my buddies and my outfit before my own.

It was that moment that I felt the lesson of serving others as a method of leadership more strongly than any other time in my life. I took down all my awards and placed pictures of friends in their place and said to myself, “People are what matter most.” I would not have had this revelation without my experience in the Corps. This is the statement that has driven my leadership in the outfit as a 1st Sergeant and this year as the commanding officer.

It is also the driver for my life-long vision of serving children at an orphanage in Guatemala called Casa Bernabe. I have spent four weeks for the past four summers at this orphanage, serving the children as well as the workers. Although I can’t speak Spanish, it hasn’t stopped me from loving the children as well as teaching a few of them how to say, “Gig “Em!”

Serving these children is my passion, and as I begin my life after college, my ultimate goal is to develop a financial support system for them stateside. I question myself sometimes on whether or not I can actually fulfill this dream, but my experience in the Corps of Cadets has taught me that the answer to this question is always, “Yes.”

Categories: Perspectives

As we near the end of our recruiting season for the Class of ’11, prospective students and parents often ask me how we are different from other business schools. After all, we offer similar majors and our students get similar jobs. And, on paper, it looks like our students have similar experiences. But, if you step outside the classrooms in the Wehner Building and Cox Hall, you’ll see the difference…and it is striking.

Our students have embraced the notion of using their business skills to improve our community. Here are just a few examples of some of the ways our young people are giving back to the community:

  • More than a dozen teams of students in our freshman leadership course have created and formed service teams to conduct community service projects. One notable student team, working with the Down Syndrome Support Group, is teaching basic handwriting skills to local youth with Down syndrome. Our Fellows students are similarly engaged in projects whose goal is to generate $5,000 of value for a worthy cause.
  • A week before finals, 20 MBA students gathered to discuss business plans and life skills with inmates set to be released on parole from the Hamilton Unit in Bryan, Texas. I joined the MBAs as part of the pioneering Prison Entrepreneurship Program at the end of April, sitting in on one-on-one advising sessions that centered around how to get business and life up and running after prison.
  • Our Business Student Council developed Project Mays, a full-scale effort to beautify a local park and recreational area. Their goal is to provide 1,000 hours of volunteer efforts during this spring.

As dean, I take great pride in our students’ abilities and work ethic. However, as I review the significant effort our students exert to make their community a better place, I admire them more for their hearts.


Jerry Strawser ’83

Categories: Deanspeak

researchsalesman.jpg“Treat others as you would like to be treated.” We’ve heard this phrase since elementary school—but when 20-plus years have gone by, and you’re standing on a car lot trying to make a sale, will your grade-school teacher’s voice still resonate in your mind? Research from Mays Business School finds that those who follow religious traditions have a greater chance of following the golden rule—encouraging ethical business practices and strong customer relations.

J. Garry Smith, a Mays PhD graduate who is now a professor of marketing at Middle Tennessee State University, says that almost all types of faith incorporate morals and a version of the golden rule. Smith’s dissertation, “Spirituality in the Salesperson: The Impact of the Golden Rule and Personal Faith on Workplace Job Attitudes,” evolved from a collection of questionnaires from 142 members of automobile dealers’ sales force—finding that in sales and marketing, people with faith tend to care more about the customers they serve.

What surprised Smith is that job satisfaction and life satisfaction aren’t interrelated. He found that faith doesn’t impact job satisfaction or propensity to leave one’s employer, and faith is not a moderator of any relationships. The golden rule disposition positively influences forgiveness, gratitude and agape love—with no effect on selflessness or humility.

“Personal faith has a significant, direct, and positive influence on some personality traits that favorably affect job-related attitudes such as customer orientation, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment,” Smith said. “Employees with strong faith are more likely to focus on customer needs and be more committed to their employer and job.”

While making a company revolve around religion isn’t necessary to encourage corporate morality, Smith said tolerance and prevalence of religion or faith in the workplace is a step forward in showing that a company stands for customer service.

Smith said it’s important to see that faith and spirituality are part of an individual’s personality. There’s a positive relationship between personality and job-related attitudes, and faith could influence behaviors that determine this attitude.

“Much of our difference in faith is hard-wired,” Smith said. “It’s in you, it’s part of your make-up. If you’re a religious person, you can’t check that at the door—it’s your personality.”

Having faith is such an innate part of most people, Smith said, that employers need to embrace it in a way that benefits the organization. For companies run by Christian families, such as Chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby, being closed on Sundays is a way of showing respect for employee faith without bringing personal beliefs into the workplace.

One of the auto dealerships Smith surveyed employs a large number of devout Muslims, and the company embraces this. “An interesting part of this dealership,” Smith said, “is that the top executives say, “At one o’clock on Friday we hope not many people come in,’ because that’s when devout Muslims pray.” Here, the company isn’t promoting faith, but is allowing room for religious practices in the work schedule.

Smith also notes that religion and faith don’t need to be advertised, but they should be an innate part of a company that allows employees to remain comfortable in their beliefs. By allowing employees to embrace the golden rule at work—without pushing religion—offense to employees and customers is avoided, and values stay intact.

“If religion is done and it’s said,” Smith asks, “then why isn’t it shown? And if it’s shown, why does it need to be said?”

Smith’s dissertation was chaired by Charles Futrell, Federated Professor of Marketing at Mays Business School. Before earning his PhD in marketing from Texas A&M University in 2006, Smith worked in sales for more than 20 years.

—Ashley N. Coker

Categories: Research Notes

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Categories: Featured Stories

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Categories: Featured Stories

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Categories: Featured Stories

They may not be the best in the world, but at 5th place in the National University of Singapore’s Cerebration MBA Global Business Challenge, a team of Mays MBAs is not very far from the top.

The team traveled to Singapore for the finals in late March, joining the top six groups from an original pool of 568 competing teams worldwide. First-year MBAs Lindsey Galloway, Mandar Marathe, Sasiri Yapa and JaeHwan Yoo developed a plan for Singapore-based home healthcare retailer OSIM International that would allow them to increase points of sale 200 percent by 2013.

They took their plan up against teams from Paris-based business school INSEAD (1st place), the National Univeristy of Singapore (2nd), Rice (3rd), Erasmus University Rotterdam (4th), and MIT (tied for 5th). Business plans were judged by Singapore business school faculty members and executives from sponsoring Singaporean companies.

Cerebration is a global business challenge, organized annually by the National University of Singapore as a hybrid of a business plan and business case competition. At the heart of the competition are real life case studies of leading Singaporean companies that are focused on international expansion. These cases profile the strategic, operational, people-oriented and financial aspects of the company and look to give teams a comprehensive understanding of the organization.

“The Cerebration competition was truly an amazing experience to learn from fellow MBA students from around the world,” Galloway said. “I learned from this experience that taking a certain amount of risk can get you far, but that sometimes a more conservative strategy is better.”

Galloway, Marathe and Yapa also applied to enter the 2007 National Society of Hispanic MBAs Marketing Case Competition sponsored by Dell/Microsoft Case Competition.

—Sommer Hamilton

Categories: Students

As a young girl, Amy Harper wanted to be the President of the United States. As she got older, she realized that she didn’t have to be president to change the world—change begins when you are willing to serve others and make a difference. It is this realization that brought Harper to organize Mays and the Bryan-College Station community for Project Mays.

Students working with the Business Student Council gather for a group shot during a Saturday volunteer shift in College Station.
Mays students gets hands-on with a creek cleanup this spring.
For four weekends this spring, Mays students put more than 700 volunteer hours in at College Station’s Wolf Pen Creek parks and recreation area. More than 500 business students and faculty installed new interpretive display panels, put together a disc golf course, planted trees and cleaned up the creek.

Harper, a junior marketing major and active member of the Business Student Council, first contacted the City of College Station in September to see how Mays could get involved in the community. City administrators wanted to tune up Wolf Pen Creek and needed energetic volunteers. Harper asked Mays faculty to help encourage student participation with extra credit for volunteer hours.

The first weekend’s creek cleanup turned into a friendly competition among business student groups, with about 250 students giving time for service. Students continued to log volunteer hours for the rest of the weekends, ending with a final round of work at the creek on Earth Day, April 22.

Project Mays is the first external community service project sponsored by the Business Student Council. “We’ve always had community service within the business school, but not past that,” Harper says.

The project has earned the support of more than service-minded students. Tax consulting firm Ryan & Company and its Aggie employees donated $3,000 to the effort, ensuring that all volunteers were equipped with supplies including t-shirts. And even the top administrators at Mays got involved—Deans Jerry Strawser and Bala Shetty brought their children out to volunteer alongside the business students.

Harper grew up with a heart for community service, and has had a distinct vision throughout planning for Project Mays. “The first day was a clean up. Essentially it’s exciting, but I wanted more than that because the clean up could be gone in a week,” she said. “I wanted to do something that would have a long lasting impact. I wanted people to have a sense of pride in the work they had done.”

—Lindsay Newcomer

Categories: Students

gershens.jpg Class is in session with Barney and Sam Gershen and family.
Barnett L. ’69 and Sam Gershen and family came together at Mays for much of the day on April 5 as both the Dean’s Executive Conference Room and a first-floor lecture hall were dedicated in the Gershens’ honor. In 2006, the Gershens committed more than $1 million to establish a learning endowment.

Barney Gershen worked with Associated Building Services, serving as CEO for more than 30 years until the company merged to form one of the largest maintenance companies in the U.S. Sam Gershen is retired from a career of commercial property management, and now focuses on the family’s own properties as well as charitable activities.

—Staff Reports

Categories: Donors Corner

The MBA Program tied for 14th among public schools (tied for 29th overall) and took the top spot for MBA placement in U.S. News & World Report’s 2008 “Top Business Schools” listing, released in late March.

Mays’ rankings rose from 31st overall in the 2007 version of the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Mays led the nation for the percentage of students—98.3 percent—who were employed within three months of graduation. This is an improvement over last year’s second-place rating, when 96.6 percent of the MBAs who sought work had a position three months after finishing their degrees. And for the second year running, Mays’ MBA program was ranked 2nd most affordable public program in the U.S.

“The continued success of the Mays MBA Program is a result of the hard work of our faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as the excellent support and leadership provided by our dean, Jerry Strawser,” said MBA Director Kelli Kilpatrick. “This is a fine example of what a great team can accomplish by working together for a common goal.”

U.S. News & World Report surveys 400 MBA programs for its annual listings of the top business programs. Rankings for the magazine are based on a number of factors including placement, student selectivity and peer and recruiter assessments.

—Staff Reports

Categories: Programs