Written by Steven Mancillas ’21:

The Business & BBQ Professional Development Wisdom Workshop united two very different parts of campus – the Business Honors program and the Meat Science department. The event highlighted three unique elements that characterize the Mays Business School experience: passion, culture, and community.

To begin, in the Business Honors program, a Professional Development event serves to foster the growth of students both personally and professionally. A majority of the events consist of meeting with industry leaders (Mays Leadership Forum), hearing from policy experts and government leaders at the Bush School (Lecture Series), or participating in a Wisdom Workshop. A Wisdom Workshop is a presentation given by a current student on a unique topic that is uncharacteristic, yet beneficial for other Business Honors students. So, naturally, the topic of barbecue fit these criteria.

My background in the barbecue realm consists of serving as a Texas BBQ 101 (ANSC 117) teaching assistant and pursuing a minor in Meat Science under the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. As a freshman in ANSC 117, I was the only business student in a room full of agriculture majors. While this was daunting at first, Dr. Savell, the ANSC 117 professor, offered an adage that served to contextualize my experience: “Barbecue is about fellowship first, and food second.Since that class, I have discovered a passion for Meat Science, ultimately adding it as a minor to my Business Honors & Finance degree.

The presentation consisted of three segments: “What is Meat Science?”, “What is BBQ?”, and lunch. During this time, I spoke about how the barbecue elective sparked my interest in the origins of this university – agriculture. This interest quickly became a passion after my first animal science class – a passion rooted in a genuine interest in the livestock industry and its impact on society. A large component of the Wisdom Workshop was demonstrating the nature of all possibilities at Texas A&M to connect one’s passion with their education – I hope that my story stands as an example of this.

In regard to culture, there is no better example of the diversity and complexity of Texas’ origins than barbecue, specifically the Texas Trinity (sausage, pork ribs, and brisket). A central mission to the Texas Barbecue Program at A&M is cultivating and preserving the state’s culture. In the presentation, I encouraged students to consider the brevity of the history that exists in the Lone Star State. Considering a majority of Aggies stay in Texas, this information can prove valuable as Mays students interact with not only other Texans, but visitors to our great state.

Lastly, in my opinion, there is no better way to explain the community of Texas barbecue than through a meal. The Business Honors program graciously paid for a catered lunch by Fargo’s Pit BBQ in Bryan – a Texas Monthly Top 50 joint. During my time at Mays, I have learned that simply sharing a meal can lead to formative reflection as you look both forward and back on your college experience with a trusted classmate. By imparting this revelation into the context of barbecue, the reflective experience can also lead to adventure. I showed students how many great barbecue restaurants are just a day-trip away from campus. I believe that these excursions can enable the community that characterizes Mays, while captivating the essence of what Texas has to offer.

My time at Mays has enabled me to do two things: pursue a passion and to lead others to do the same. As I have grown both professionally and personally, I have discovered that college is not just about learning, but also about serving. I believe that leading a Wisdom Workshop allows me to serve Mays by leading others to pursue a passion of their own. While the presentation was about barbecue, I hope that students could take away something more than that. One’s passion might involve healing the environment or promoting education around the world. These things serve to advance the world’s prosperity. While the Business & BBQ presentation might just be the impetus, it is the necessary spark that can ignite a flame of passion. I hope that through this opportunity that I played a small role in developing Mays Transformational Leaders.