Traditional medical training focused on curing disease may not prepare clinicians to provide comfort and solace to their patients facing life-limiting illness. But dying patients and their families still need healing, and clinicians can actively facilitate it. We explore the clinician’s role in the healing journey through the lens of pediatric brain cancer. Specifically, we examine how clinicians can help affected families find their way from “focused hope” (which centers on cure) to “intrinsic hope,” which offers a more realistic and resilient emotional foundation as the child’s death approaches and letting go becomes essential. Drawing on their clinical experience and medical knowledge, clinicians can help families comprehend the lessons that their seriously ill child’s body has to teach, highlighting the importance of cherishing the present and creating new memories that outlast the disease. Clinicians can avoid the mindset of “nothing more can be done,” emphasizing that there is plenty to do in providing physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort. Clinicians can learn how to be “unconditionally present” for patients and families without immersing themselves in anguish and, eventually, how to help the family find freedom from despair and a full life that still honors the child’s memory.
Read more about finding hope and healing in the face of overwhelming devastation here.
Meet Connor Pogue, Startup Aggieland’s newest entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR). Connor is the CEO and co-founder of Exosphere Fitness, a consumer fitness product that looks like a yoga mat, but functions as a full gym.
Ever since he was a little kid, Connor dreamed of being a doctor. “The plan was that I would be an orthopedic surgeon and my brother would be a physical therapist and eventually we would open a practice together,” he said. However, during an internship at a hospital, Connor quickly realized his dream had changed, “I was already getting frustrated with the paperwork and healthcare industry. I would look around and think about how I could make things better but wasn’t actually able to make a difference.” After graduating from Texas A&M in 2016 with a BS in Kinesiology, Connor made the difficult choice to turn down his acceptance into medical school. Instead, he enrolled as a graduate student in Mays Business School and eventually earned his MS in Business. “I enjoy what I do now,” he commented. Connor still achieved one of his childhood dreams though; his brother is the co-founder of Exosphere Fitness. “I’ll never forget the moment my mom saw our first prototype,” he recalled, “she looked at it and then just hugged me and said ‘I love you, but you’re crazy.’”
Now, Connor is working on his startup full-time, serving as Startup Aggieland’s newest EIR, and has several contracts as a business consultant. Connor is most excited about helping Texas A&M students achieve their goals as entrepreneurs. “I love working with students,” he said, “I love the passion of student entrepreneurs. I don’t care what their idea may be. I’m driven by their passion and the work they’re putting into their dreams.” As an EIR, Connor will help students engage with the Startup Aggieland community and provide guidance and support as they explore their ideas and launch their companies.
About Exosphere Fitness
The Exosphere Gym is deceptively powerful. The entire system weighs a little over 20lbs, but users can do over 100 exercises with 5-200lbs of resistance. “Our slogan is ‘this isn’t a gym you put in your home. It’s a gym made for your home,’” said Connor. The entire gym is designed with today’s modern lifestyle in mind, allowing for maximum benefit while taking up minimal space in your home. When your workout is complete, the gym folds in half with a single movement and can be stored under a bed, in a closet, or behind your sofa. The founders also developed the system to be safe for users and their families. Free weights and heavy, gear-laden machinery can injure or fall on children but not the Exosphere Gym. “The entire device is completely self-contained and incredibly safe.” Exosphere Fitness is a finalist for the 2019 Extrapreneur Award presented by Extraco Bank.
Ahad Azimuddin ’20 is a born entrepreneur. He sees opportunity everywhere he goes and can’t help but want to solve every problem he encounters. He’s also whip-smart and on a personal mission to serve as a pioneer and champion for innovative medical devices. “I really think I can help bridge the gap between medicine and commercialization,” he stated. Azimuddin knew the next step in his career path was medical school but still wanted the ability to explore his interest in entrepreneurship. What do you do when you want to combine your passion for medicine and business? You enroll at Texas A&M University.
Azimuddin is a medical student in the MD Plus program at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. The MD Plus coursework is incredibly rigorous, but when he graduates in 2023, Azimuddin will have obtained both an MBA and an MD. “The resources provided at A&M are just incredible. Other universities and medical schools simply don’t provide these opportunities,” he said.
Texas A&M University is home to the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, a nationally ranked entrepreneurship center that offers over 30 programs and events that develop and support Aggie entrepreneurs. The McFerrin Center also runs the on-campus student business incubator, Startup Aggieland. “So many other people around you are doing incredible things. Being able to connect with those people and learn from those people is huge, and the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship gives you that opportunity. I was always thinking, where are the startups at a university? Where on campus are they? I found Startup Aggieland and realized this is the environment and community where people are doing really cool stuff, and this is where you can learn from them.”
During his first year at Texas A&M, Azimuddin developed a medical device called LCLIP, a laryngoscope attachment that alerts a physician when they’re in danger of causing dental damage and injury to a patient. The inspiration behind LCLIP actually came from his co-founder, Kevin Kotamarti, who dislodged a patient’s tooth while using a laryngoscope as a resident. “We have a provisional patent that’s been converted to PCT and have a year to nationalize. We’re at the point where we’re looking to license our product to manufacturing companies. LCLIP is classified as a 510K addition to an already cleared device. FDA approval is relatively simple compared to a new medication or a completely new device. It’s the path of least resistance which is actually a big value proposition to the manufacturers.”
When asked why he chose to solve this particular problem, Azimuddin said it was because he wanted to serve patients. “People look at a consent form, and no one cares that they saw vocal and dental damage. The patient is focused on brain damage or death. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there and it’s not costing the healthcare industry. 90% of anonymous survey takers said they caused some kind of dental damage in their career. That’s the opportunity that LCLIP has. We’re solving a problem that exists, but no one has given attention because it’s not a big flashy problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.” Azimuddin doesn’t say “if LCLIP succeeds” instead he says, “when LCLIP succeeds.” It’s not that he believes failure isn’t an option; it’s simply that he already sees his first foray into entrepreneurship as a success. “So far, our first try is going really well. But if something doesn’t work out, if something doesn’t happen, we’ve gained so much knowledge for the next time we’re trying to get a device off the ground. We’re not treating LCLIP as if it’s our last idea. It’s our first idea of many, and it’s been an amazing learning experience. Hopefully whatever we gain from LCLIP, whether it’s knowledge or capital, will be immediately invested into the next project.”
In addition to launching a startup, in 2019 Azimuddin took home 1st place at Aggie PITCH and Raymond Ideas Challenge. The cash prizes from these competitions have helped offset the cost of LCLIP. Azimuddin was also recently hired by a local medical device startup, Saber Corporation after he met the founder through the McFerrin Center’s Mentor Network. “Through Startup Aggieland, I actually got a job, and I’m now employed by Dr. Alan Glowczwski. He’s been the best mentor for LCLIP and also for medical school in general. He’s someone I’ll probably be 20 years from now.” Azimuddin pointed out that this support system has been invaluable to LCLIP and that it’s important for entrepreneurs to remember that you can’t do everything alone. “At Startup Aggieland, you meet a bunch of mentors, and I’m really glad I found a mentor who has gone through medical school and who I have so many similarities with. This is an opportunity that I get because I’m here at Texas A&M. I don’t think I’d have these same opportunities in many other places.”
Earning your MD is difficult enough but combining it with the rigor of an MBA program seems like a recipe for exhaustion. However, Azimuddin says that pursuing his passion for entrepreneurship will make him a better doctor in the long run. “Yes I can be a doctor, but there’s so much more to being a doctor. This initial year has attuned my brain. Going through medical school with this mindset I’ve developed, I’m going to be spotting things left and right. I’m kind of worried that I’ll lose track of everything because there are so many things I want to fix.”
Healthcare is a service setting where meeting the needs of customers (patients and their families) is uniquely challenging. But the necessity, complexity, cost, and high-emotion nature of the service, as well as technological advances and competitive dynamics in the industry, make the imperative for service innovation in healthcare especially urgent. Forward-thinking healthcare institutions around the United States are succeeding in establishing a value-creating innovation culture and in implementing operational and strategic service innovations that benefit them and their stakeholders. They view continuous innovation as a non-negotiable goal, prize institutional self-confidence, and include patients and families on the innovation team. Cancer care, in particular, faces a pressing need for service innovation, and some progressive oncology centers are demonstrating what is possible to improve the patient and family service experience. The imperatives, now, are for service innovation to become part of the fabric of how all healthcare institutions, not just the groundbreakers discussed in this article, operate—and for academics in the field of marketing to play a crucial role in that effort.
Read more about the urgency of service innovation in healthcare here.
As the fashion world converged in New York for the Fall 2019 Fashion Week, marketing majors Addison Holcomb ’20 and Shannon Perkins ’20 from Mays Business School were treated to a one-of-a-kind educational experience thanks to a collaboration between Texas A&M University, Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), the university’s exclusive trademark licensing agency, and IMG’s fashion events division. Holcomb and Perkins were two of 21 students from 12 universities that participated in the program designed to support innovation and the development of future leaders in the fashion industry.
This program provided a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry, including entry into select runway shows, panel discussions and networking opportunities with industry leaders, as well as on-the-job shadowing with collegiate licensees.
The students experienced two New York Fashion Week (NYFW) runway shows, as well as backstage tours to observe the production and execution of a fashion show. The group also participated in the screening of the film “THE REMIX: Hip Hop x Fashion” and participated in a panel discussion with director/producer Lisa Cortés and director Farah X.
“This unique collaboration with IMG’s fashion division allows us to offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience and insight into the fashion industry to some of the best and brightest students from our partner institutions,” said Cory Moss, SVP and Managing Director of IMG College Licensing. “In providing resources and opportunities beyond what a traditional licensing partner can provide, we deliver greater value to their campuses and communities while promoting innovation and learning.”
In addition to the experiences at New York Fashion Week: The Shows, the students also spent time with key staff at sports fashion brand Champion and College Vault licensee Original Retro Brand. The students also had an opportunity to visit collegiate jewelry licensee KYLE CAVAN where they interacted with designers and marketers from the company, as well as online fashion outlet Storr and licensee Hillflint.
The program delivered unique academic enrichment opportunities for the students with costs covered by the universities. Institutions that participated in this collegiate enrichment program at NYFW: The Shows included University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Arkansas, University of Delaware, Northern Arizona University, University of Pittsburgh, University of South Carolina, Syracuse University, TCU, Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and West Virginia University.
“We are committed to delivering opportunities for future leaders in the industry to engage and learn from others that know what it takes to be successful,” said Leslie Russo, Executive Vice President, IMG Fashion Events. “This unique experience aligns perfectly with our mission, and we are happy to partner with our colleagues at CLC to welcome these great students to NYFW: The Shows.”
Participating students were asked to chronicle their experiences through social media using #UofNYFW and share their learnings with other students upon their return to campus.
“It was so fun interacting with other aspiring professionals who value similar things and are pursuing a career in the same industry,” Holcomb explained. “Their stories and backgrounds were inspiring, and I cannot wait to witness the amazing things they accomplish. Who knows, their designs may be featured on a NYFW runway someday!”
“To say this was the experience of a lifetime is an understatement,” said Perkins. “I have never felt more affirmed in my passion for retail and fashion, and I left this weekend motivated to go after my dreams.”
“At Texas A&M, we are committed to providing our students with transformational learning experiences that prepare them for successful careers in a number of areas within retailing,” added Scott Benedict, Director of the Center for Retailing Studies. “We’re so excited that Addison and Shannon had the opportunity to participate in this event, and gain an understanding of the fashion world first hand.”
About the Center for Retailing Studies
Since opening in 1983, the Center for Retailing Studies has been respected throughout the world as a leading source of industry knowledge and a pipeline for developing future retail leaders. In collaboration with the outstanding performance of the faculty at Mays Business School and excellence in student education programs, each year, more than 150 students complete coursework, internships, and leadership programs that prepare them for a professional career within the industry in store management, buying, merchandising, planning, business analytics, and supply chain.
CLC is part of Learfield IMG College, which unlocks the value of college sports for brands and fans through an omnichannel platform. The company’s extensive commerce, experiential and media solutions create ultimate opportunities for fan engagement. The Learfield IMG College suite of services includes licensing and multimedia sponsorship management; publishing, broadcasting, digital and social media; ticket sales and professional concessions expertise; branding; campus-wide business and sponsorship development; and venue technology systems. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, the company has long had the privilege of being an advocate for intercollegiate athletics and the student-athlete experience. Since 2008, it has served as title sponsor for the acclaimed Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup, supporting athletic departments across all divisions.
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events, and media. The company manages some of the world’s greatest athletes and fashion icons; owns and operates hundreds of live events annually, and is a leading independent producer and distributor of sports and entertainment media. IMG also specializes in licensing, sports training and league development. IMG is a subsidiary of Endeavor, a global entertainment, sports, and content company.
Editor’s note: I was told of the Lemmons’ story and knew it was one I wanted to hear for myself. Endowment namesakes Billy and Angie bleed maroon. On August 07, 2019, I drove to Northwest San Antonio to sit down with the couple and hear about their time in Aggieland, about why they give to Mays and about all of the life they’ve lived in between.
Billy Lemmons ’83 stops mid-sentence to consult with his wife, Angie ’84, about a memory from yesteryear. “Senior year we took a political science class together,” he says, “I used to wait for her on the bench beneath the Century Tree… It was before the tree got its powers.”
It’s one of the hundreds of memories that the Lemmons have of their time together at Texas A&M. He was a petroleum engineering major; she an accounting major. Their paths crossed one night as undergraduates when their friends all went out on the town together – their eyes widen, and their voices change a bit when they talk about it.
“I remember the day Angie walked into my life,” he recalls, “it just so happened to be when I watched her walk through the doors at Rebels.”
The Lemmons are proud of their Aggie roots and legacy – Billy knows enough Aggie trivia to Stump The Schwab and Angie’s eyes well at a memory.
“My mom had brought me to campus for a tour, and I already knew about some of the Aggie traditions,” she says. “We were walking by the MSC and there was a senior in the Corps in front of us. As I was explaining his tall boots to my mother, he stopped mid-stride. We watched him lean over the grass as far as he could reach to pick up a gum wrapper that was on the MSC lawn. At that moment, I knew that any place where a student was so proud of his campus and cared that much, was a place I wanted to be. That was when I decided to become an Aggie.”
In fact, they loved A&M so much that three years after the pair graduated, Angie quit her job and Billy took a leave of absence so that they could return to Aggieland to earn their MBAs. Angie jokes that you’re supposed to go someplace other than where you get your undergraduate degree to get your MBA, but Billy couldn’t resist another opportunity to watch two more football seasons in Kyle Field.
They’re not the only Aggies in their family. All three of their daughters are Aggies and their smiles stretch ear to ear when they mention Hayley ‘15, Kelsey ‘18, and Avery ‘22. Two of them graduated from Mays and the last will do so in 2022 – all of them with Business Honors, all with numerous engagements with other student organizations. The Lemmons girls won’t be the only Mays grads with Billy and Angie’s support. Countless other students will have the opportunity to graduate as Aggies because of the Lemmons’ generosity.
The Lemmons have two endowed scholarships – one for undergraduates in Business Honors, the other for veterans who come back to campus to earn an MBA.
“It’s our way of helping create opportunities for future generations of Aggies, and assuring that Mays continues to grow in its reputation for developing great business leaders,” Billy explains. Angie adds, “We were so fortunate to attend A&M, twice, and because of the education we received, now have the ability to impact other students’ future the ways ours were through Mays and the MBA program.”
One of Billy’s favorite parts of the endowments is the thank you letters. “We have met many of [the endowment recipients] over the years and always look forward to reading the thank you notes we receive,” Billy says excitedly. “It’s incredible to learn the individual stories of the scholarship recipients. We keep all the notes and have shared many of them with our girls.” Angie echoes the sentiment.
Billy and Angie both proudly note that giving back is how they were raised and it’s consistent with the Aggie Core Value of Selfless Service – one they take very seriously.
“Along the way, so many people have helped me that had no real vested interest in my future: they were friends and acquaintances that for some reason took an interest in me. It would be impossible for me to list them all and the only way I can even try to pay it back is by doing the same for others,” Billy gushes.
The Lemmons have a home in College Station, and Billy, an avid runner, jogs a route of nostalgia when he is in Aggieland. His route passes by his old bus stop, a memorial oak tree for his late parents (dedicated by his business partner and friend Jack ‘72 and Michele Lafield), and the Petroleum Engineering building. Angie adds in “the Century Tree” to which Billy nods in agreement. Their love for this community is evident in the way they beam when they talk about it.
“We love Texas A&M and are so grateful that God made us Aggies! Nearly everything of significance in our life is somehow connected to our Aggie experience – so this is our way to give back.”
Billy and Angie Lemmons established their endowments in 2015. To date, four Aggies have been recipients of Lemmons funded scholarships and countless more will follow. To get more information on what it takes to pay it forward like Billy and Angie, contact Stephen Cisneros at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the state’s first public institution of higher education—and today, by far the largest—Texas A&M has always had the land-grant mission (and now, sea-grant and space-grant mission) of educating a broad cross-section of the population.
This means providing a world-class education that prepares graduates for leadership roles from the very start. Former students not only have less college-related debt than their counterparts elsewhere, but they are much more satisfied with the education they received at Texas A&M.
About one-quarter of the 10,757 members of the Texas A&M freshman class of 2018-19 are the first in their families to go to college.
These first-generation students come from low-income families or families that do not have a tradition of attending college. Some were encouraged from the start to get a college degree and others were pressured to skip college and enter the workforce.
Nearly all students find it difficult to navigate the challenges of financial aid, academic advising, and career mentoring without help. With no one in their families to turn to, first-generation students often don’t know what questions to ask or where to go for answers.
But Mays Business School has changed all that.
Mays leaders understand the value these students bring today and their great promise for Texas and the world tomorrow.
In 2013, lecturer Henry Musoma ’00 and then-student Marlen Cornejo ’15 founded the Regents’ Ambassador Program, the Mays learning community for first-generation students.
Mays leaders help first-generation students, like all Mays students, become transformational leaders equipped for today’s global business context. Mays does this by ensuring a welcoming and inclusive community, by providing academic support and professional development, and by encouraging global learning and awareness.
First-generation students are a high priority for Dean Eli Jones ’82.
After all, Jones knows what it’s like to be a first-generation student at Texas A&M.
“I clearly remember sitting in a calculus class, struggling with understanding what the professor was saying and thinking, ’Now where do I go for help?’” he says.
“It was a wake-up call for me since I had no one in my immediate nor extended family to talk to for help.”
“I am very thankful for fourth- and fifth-generation Aggie families—and those who have even deeper roots here at Texas A&M. But I also have a heart for first-generation students who don’t have that kind of support.”
Jones then describes what happened just a few weeks ago, at a meeting with his executive team.
Looking around the conference table, all of a sudden, it hit him… Jones’ eyes light up at the memory.
“We talk about transformational leadership. We talk about being one of the nation’s top business schools and what we can do to climb even higher.”
“Looking around the table at my team, I realized that seven of us are first-generation college graduates ourselves. Talk about transformative!”
James Benjamin (pictured on the cover) says, “I had a good experience during my undergraduate program at the University of Maryland, but I wish that I would have been at a school like Texas A&M. The culture at A&M is unique and helps students develop lifelong skills.”
David Griffith says, “My mom talked a lot about the importance of college and saving for college. She did her best to squirrel away what she could in the hopes of helping pay for college. I started saving from my paper route money when I was nine.”
Duane Ireland says, “During my Ph.D. program, my grandmother asked me if I ever intended to do something other than be a student. First-generation students may feel a bit alone in their family because others have not had a university-level experience.”
Greg Marchi says, “My parents didn’t know about the different colleges and universities, or about the application process or choosing a major. The focus was simply on attending and graduating. If I had known more, my undergraduate decisions would likely have been different.”
Annie McGowan says, “I grew up working in my dad’s store, and I hated it. I felt like I didn’t have a childhood. But I learned how to keep track of inventory and keep a ledger, and by the time I was 12, I went over our financial reports with our CPA every month. That led me to become an accountant and an accounting professor.”
Richard Metters says, “I grew up in a lower-middle-class environment in the Philadelphia area where physicality and macho masculinity ruled. You had to fight to be socially accepted. I didn’t want to fight, so I was the oddball. It took me a year at Stanford before I realized that no one was going to beat me up.”
These stories are powerful reminders of the transformational impact that a college education can have, especially for first-generation students. Texas A&M and Mays hold a heightened focus on first-generation students to enable bright, young people to earn a college education through scholarship funding and student success programs. First-generation college graduation is a Texas A&M tradition worthy to be pursued.
Life is full of firsts – first steps, first loves, first jobs. With every “first” comes a change of your future. For first-generation college students, being the first person to attend an institution of higher education redefines not only their future, but their community’s future, too.