“What are Texas A&M’s six core values?” Dean Jerry Strawser opened at the recent 2012 Kupfer Scholarship Luncheon. “Excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, selfless service… you just helped me introduce Gerald Ray and Donald Zale.”

(L to R) Donald Zale '55, Jerry Strawser '83, Clayton Shilling '12 and Gerald Ray '54
(L to R) Donald Zale ’55, Jerry Strawser ’83, Clayton Shilling ’12 and Gerald Ray ’54 (view more photos)

Ray ’54 and Zale ’55, two successful businessmen and generous Aggies, created the Kupfer Distinguished Scholar Award, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement and exemplary leadership in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. The award commemorates the legacy of their friend, Harold L. Kupfer, who Ray and Zale describe as a selfless man who made great contributions to Texas business.

This year, the Kupfer scholarship was awarded to Clayton Shillings ’12. Shillings is currently a member of the Corps of Cadets’ Company K-1, as well as a member of the Brotherhood of Christian Aggies and a Breakaway volunteer. He was recognized at a luncheon at the Sanders Corp Center.

Shillings came to Texas A&M as an engineering major, but after two years of classes, he realized his favorite course was the finance class he took for his business minor. “I knew something had to be wrong with that,” Shillings quipped. He joined Mays Business School as a finance major shortly after.

The Houston native has excelled in academics, campus involvement and the embodiment of Texas A&M’s core values—the very reasons Ray and Zale selected him to represent their good friend’s commitment to respect and leadership.

Always “fascinated with the military,” Shillings signed an Army contract his junior year and says he looks forward to serving his country.