It was a glimpse into the future for 16 third and fourth graders from area elementary schools who participated in the annual “Aggie for a Day” program. The event took place on February 2 and was hosted by the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) organization at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

Students participating
16 area elementary students participated in the “Aggie for a Day” program

The youngsters got a feel for the real A&M experience as they heard a business lecture at Mays, took a quiz, ate pizza, toured Kyle Field and the Bright Athletic Complex, and ramped up their Aggie spirit with help from a few yell leaders and athletes. Most came dressed in maroon, eager to show their Aggie pride.

The theme for the day was ethical behavior and the foundation for the curriculum was the Aggie Code of Honor: “An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do.”

“Business ethics aren’t separate from everyday ethical behavior. That’s what we’d like them to see,” said Ashley Nix ’08, one of the SIFE members that helped facilitate and organize the event. The concept of ethics was introduced with a pre-test with tough questions like, “Which is worse: stealing a car, or stealing a piece of gum?”

Throughout the day, the participants were drilled on the Code of Honor and were rewarded for “ethical” behavior (being kind to others, following directions, etc.) with “Aggie Bucks.” At the end of the day, the one with that accumulated the most Aggie Bucks got a prize.

Separate from the ethics information, the students also had a classroom experience with Lawrence Wolken, Mays’ clinical professor of finance, who presented a lesson called “The International Pencil.” He taught the basics of supply chain and global economics from the standpoint of manufacturing a pencil, opening the students’ eyes to the complexities of business even for a simple, everyday item.

Students participating
Eager students learn about “The International Pencil” from Mays professor Lawrence Wolken

SIFE faculty sponsor Cindy Billington, an associate director with Mays’ Graduate Business Career Services, had a dual role in the day’s activities as her 4th grade son, Brandon, was in attendance. She says as a parent she sees great value in this type of program. “While children do understand the concept of telling the truth, they also start at this age in struggling with the pros and cons of telling the truth and getting in trouble,” she said. “The ethics portion of Aggie for a Day focused on those challenges.”

The objectives for the day were simple: “We want them to learn about being ethical, have some fun, and hopefully want to be an Aggie,” said SIFE member Mimi Wilfong ’08. The last part of that initiative wasn’t a hard sell for many of the participants. When asked about his Aggie aspirations, 3rd grader Harrison Buenger said he most looks forward to “walking across campus to classes, and playing soccer.”

Rob Havens ’88 brought his 4th grade son Tyler to participate in the day’s events. “What sports are you going to play for the Aggies?” Havens prompted his son.

“Football, or baseball, or basketball,” said Tyler ambitiously.

The event was sponsored by Walgreen’s and Sam’s Club.

Related articles:
The Battalion: Students participate in A&M experience
KBTX-TV: Aggie for a day (includes video)