The February Silver Taps of his freshman year was when finance major and 2012-2013 Student Body President-elect John Claybrook ’13 says he truly recognized the meaning of the “Aggie family.”
“The wind chill was close to zero degrees but there were still over a thousand Aggies there,” Claybrook recalls. “I remember walking down Military Walk that night listening to Albritton Tower ring and I realized I was surrounded by all this history and tradition. I understood the duty and privilege I have to serve this school.”
Born to be an Aggie
Long before the title “Student Body President” had appeared on his horizon, Claybrook was being equipped for the position. The Dallas native was involved in his high school’s student council, where he says his advisors challenged him and molded him as a leader. Claybrook also spent his high school years leading a Bible study for seventh-grade boys, many of whom he still mentors today.
It was this taste of service that Claybrook says made his college decision an easy one. “I wanted a world-class education,” Claybrook says. “I knew A&M would build me to be a successful individual. I knew I would be surrounded by people with my same values and, most importantly, I knew I could get involved and learn the meaning of service.”
Entering Aggieland in the fall of 2009, Claybrook did not shy away from the campus involvement he was seeking. He joined Fish Aides, a Freshman Leadership Organization (FLO), where he worked with four student government groups. He was selected as co-chair of Fish Aides the next year, imparting the leadership guidance he had learned to new college freshmen.
Claybrook is also a member of Aggie Men’s Club. Speaking with the utmost respect for the organization, he says his involvement has expanded his mindset by enabling him to meet “incredible guys from all different backgrounds and perspectives on life.”
The business of SBP
Like his decision to attend Texas A&M, Claybrook says the decision to pursue a business degree was also a no-brainer. “I wanted a degree to put me in a place to be successful after graduation,” he says, discussing the value of a business degree and the professional experience Mays offers.
According to Claybrook, his coursework at Mays propelled much of the planning for his Student Body President campaign. “The general understanding of my marketing and management classes taught me how to make effective decisions and handle different people and situations,” he says.
Matt Josefy ’04, a Mays accounting professor and Student Body President during his time at Texas A&M, says Claybrook’s experience as a business major has equipped him for the position. “In my own experience, I found that the business school prepared me well for the position for several reasons,” Josefy says.
Josefy also discusses the analytical methods that Mays students use to assess a problem a business faces, identify potential solutions and then recommend a course of action justified by known facts and projected outcomes. “The business school also has a strong focus on developing a communication competency, which is employed heavily as the Student Body President is constantly speaking in front of groups, drafting comments for news media, submitting proposals to university administrators, and responding to student concerns and questions.”
According to Josefy, “Over the next year, John will have the opportunity in a new setting to employ these skills that he has studied in the classroom.”
This year’s SBP election process has already employed Claybrook’s quick-thinking, situational management abilities.
Sticking to his guns
Referring to the biggest lesson learned from campaigning, Claybrook simply states, “Stick to your guns, stick to what you know. Don’t deviate from your values.”
For Claybrook, “sticking to his guns” meant refusing to compromise his relational leadership style.
“Interacting with people on an individual basis is what I know how to do best,” he says. “But it’s hard to get thousands of votes by meeting with each person individually.”
Still, Claybrook explains that he stuck to his own leadership approach and “refused to have a surface relationship” with the other candidates, even in the midst of competing with them. When run-offs came around, Claybrook ended up with endorsements from the other four SBP candidates. Investing in individuals “paid dividends in the long run,” he says.
The right man for the job
According to Eric Newman ’11, Claybrook’s academic advisor at Mays, “John, more than anything else, is a high-character individual. He is charismatic, well spoken and intelligent but what will make him a great Student Body President is his character. He is a man of strong faith, deep loyalty and generous compassion.”
Claybrook echoed Newman’s word when discussing his passion for loyalty. He says loyalty to his “friends and family, to what [he] believes in and to this university” drives his success.
“I firmly believe I have the best friends in the world,” Claybrook says, recognizing it took a team effort to get him elected. “I saw a lot of selflessness during the campaign processâ€”my friends gave so much of their time and energy and that meant the world to me. I owe a lot of who I am to them.”
Josefy, who served as moderator for the run-off SBP debate, was impressed with Claybrook’s tact during the campaign process, saying, “From my observation of his responses during the debate, I perceive John to be very thoughtful in considering issues and expect he will take steps to gather student opinion before speaking out on behalf of students. He seems to recognize that the ultimate goal is to serve as an ambassador of all students in the decision-making process of the university, while he will also take on a number of additional roles as the face of the student body at key events during our inaugural year in the SEC.”
Newman is also confident in Claybrook’s ability to take the reins of representing the student body next year. “I am as proud of the student body for electing John as I am of John for being elected,” he says. “Texas A&M made a great choice and I know John will serve our university well.”