Graduation day. I had rehearsed, but I was still a little nervous about carrying the top-heavy gonfalon in front of thousands of people. At the same time, I was full of confidence — out of all the graduates of Mays this year, I had been chosen for this task. I was humbled and honored. When I was notified of the selection, I could think of so many peers that would be more deserving. But, I would fulfill the responsibility with honor and class. As I was walking behind all of the stage party, representing Mays Business School, I thought to myself, “How did I get here?”
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Move-in day, August of 2005. Hot is an understatement when used to describe College Station in August, but that didn’t stop thousands of young Aggies and parents from lugging mini-fridges and futons up three flights of stairs in the mid-day sun. I remember walking into my dorm, McInnis Hall, and the first words ever spoken in my room. “Looks just the same as when I lived here 35 years ago!” Thanks Dad. I chose my bed, finished unloading the car, and my parents were on their way. And so, the journey had begun.
It took me about a semester to get acclimated to this new lifestyle, that of a college student. When the spring semester arrived, I was ready to get involved. This would be the most important decision I made in my college career. I joined The Big Event committee as a staff assistant, and I was admitted into One Army: Texas Aggie Men United.
Through One Army, my eyes were opened to the true responsibility of a leader: to serve. It didn’t take long to realize that being a leader meant making sacrifices and putting others’ needs first. One of my most vivid memories is of holding the service chair position. We created a new philanthropy event to benefit Still Creek Ranch. Coincidentally, this came at one of the busiest times in my academic career, PPA recruiting. Three days away from the event, so much was still up in the air. It was about 3:00 a.m. and I was in my room, reviewing the list of things still to be done, and I thought, “There’s no way; we are never going to make itâ€¦”
I was wrong. In the days that followed, I saw our organization work together like never before. The event was a huge success. When we delivered the check to Still Creek Ranch, we were reminded of the reason for our efforts. There are about 40 reasonsâ€”the children living at the facility. The men in One Army understand service and they helped me understand, too. Thanks guys. I’m proud to call you brothers.
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It was senior year and I was in Accounting 407 (Auditing) with Dr. Mike Shaub. Even though I was far from one of his best students, he made an investment in my life that has changed me forever. For over a year, we have met for coffee about once a week. If you know Dr. Shaub, I need not explain his ability to impact people through his grace and wisdom, but for those that don’t know him, I will share a little of my experience. There were days that I overslept, there were days that I hardly slept and couldn’t organize my thoughts, but one thing was constant: Dr. Shaub greeted me with a smile and a welcoming handshake. We talked about so many things. Primarily, he helped me grow in my faith, not only by talking with me, but also by living every day by his faith in God. Dr. Shaub, you will never really know how much you have changed my life. Thank you, and I look forward to continuing our friendship for years to come.
I have so many experiences and stories, but these are a few that I cherish. Clearly, the most important lessons I learned in college were outside the classroom. Make no mistake, doing well in the classroom and learning how to learn is one reason we come to college. Another reason is to develop as people that embody the Aggie core values and leave here ready to live with integrity and represent our alma mater with dignity. Never forget that.
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As I walked across the stage carrying the gonfalon, I thought about all of the people that had helped me along the way. I certainly didn’t make it to graduation alone. None of us did. I thought about the journey ahead: soon I would be leaving for New York City to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers in the audit practice. I was filled with joy, confidence, and excitement. My future was unknown. One thing I did know, I would miss Texas A&M, Mays Business School and all of the student organizations, but I would always carry with me the lessons that I have learned: Live a life of service and always invest in the lives of other people; serve God, love people, and the insignificant things in life, which is everything else, will remain as unimportant as they should.
Taylor W. Bradshaw “09
A note about the Mays Business School gonfalon: The golden knot symbolizes unity and coordination of the disciplines of business administration. Surrounding the golden knot, a field of purple represents the rank of authority. The foundation of lozenges under the triangle illustrates the flow of order.