The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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How student journalism shaped the lives of former Batt staffers

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Photo by PROVIDED

Angelique Gammon

In the century and a quarter that The Battalion has been serving Texas A&M, generations of reporters, photographers and editors have passed through the newsroom.
Former Battalion staffers all share an affinity for telling stories and many still use those storytelling skills in their jobs today. Although they all started at the same publication, former Battalion staffers have taken many different paths after graduation.
An entrepreneur sharing her wisdom
Angelique Gammon, Class of 1982, came to Texas A&M with the aid of a basketball scholarship. Although she entered college as an engineering major, Gammon discovered her passion for writing after taking journalism electives.
“I didn’t come here to be a journalism major, but I ended up in a journalism class and I really felt like it was a better fit for me and then I started taking more classes,” Gammon said. “From there I moved to a part-time job at The Battalion doing reporting.”
After climbing the ranks at The Battalion, Gammon became the editor-in-chief in the summer of 1981 and held that position until her graduation in the spring of 1982. Gammon then went to work for Insite printing and publishing in Bryan.
Using the skills she learned in the student newsroom, Gammon was the premiere editor for Insite magazine, a Bryan-College Station lifestyle magazine. Gammon later bought out the printing and publishing company with her husband, Greg Gammon.
“When students ask what made it possible for me to be a successful businesswoman who also was publisher of a magazine… I think that The Battalion is absolutely key foundational skills because it’s really the only other job I ever had prior to being self-employed,” Gammon said.
Once Gammon and her husband were ready to sell the business, she decided to reach out to her alma mater about further career opportunities.
“Five years ago, I contacted Dale Rice, who was head of the journalism department,” Gammon said. “I said ‘I only have a bachelor’s degree, but I’ve been doing the same kinds of things in journalism for 30 years. Would there be something that I might be able to do in terms of teaching?’”
She started teaching part time at A&M, and in January 2018, she left Insite to work full time as an instructional assistant professor for journalism studies.
A dedicated editor with a passion for special projects
Rob Clark, Class of 1996, said he learned early on in his college career that he wanted to be a journalist. After switching his major from business to journalism, Clark sought a position at The Battalion.
“I actually didn’t get on the first time I tried,” Clark said. “I wanted to be a columnist, but I didn’t get it, so the next semester I applied to be a copy editor and once I got into the door I started trying different things and finding what I liked the most and pursuing that.”
Clark wore a lot of hats at The Battalion, including managing editor and editor-in-chief.
After graduating, Clark interned at the Houston Chronicle before being hired full time at The Bryan-College Station Eagle. In 1999, Clark started reporting for the Dallas Morning News.
“My writing needed improvement when I started,” Clark said. “I started figuring out who I was as a writer and I found that I enjoyed editing more than I had realized and putting together a package, whether that’s just a feature story, designing a special story or section and the satisfaction that doing a special story can give.”
In 2011, Clark was hired back to The Eagle as the special sections editor and later promoted to managing editor in 2018.
“My primary role is to support the editor and manage the staff on day-to-day operations, support the reporters and copy editors best I can and I also handle a lot of our special projects,” Clark said. “We publish a quarterly lifestyle magazine and an annual SEC preview magazine and I take the lead on those along with typical web duties.”
A skilled sports reporter securing A&M’s financial future
For True Brown, Class of 2003, The Battalion was the cornerstone of his time at Texas A&M.
“It kind of became my purpose in college,” Brown said. “From working my way up from a sports writer to editor-in-chief over a few years period. It became what I did.”
Post graduation, Brown’s first job was at the 12th Man Foundation.
“I think all of us have a lot of people who have affected our lives and helped get us to where we are now,” Brown said. “I was fortunate enough, through my time at The Battalion, to make some great connections with people who eventually helped me get my first job after college at the 12th Man Foundation. I got that job largely because I was a Battalion sports writer.”
Brown said his journalism skills helped him fundraise for the 12th Man Foundation.
“I’ve worked around A&M my whole career,” Brown said. “I was director of communications, so I was using that Battalion experience over there too. I worked on a couple of different magazines that the 12th Man has produced and I got to interact with a lot of donors, student-athletes and coaches and tell their story through our magazines.”
Now, Brown is the director of development for the Texas A&M Foundation.
“I’ve got the coolest job in the world because I get to call on former students of all ages and go visit them wherever they live, wherever they work and talk to them about Texas A&M,” Brown said. “I spend about three days a week on the road, going to meet with people and trying to educate them and convince them to give back to Texas A&M.”
A Batt staffer breaking the state’s biggest news
Matthew Watkins, Class of 2007, said he was unmotivated when he came to college, but eventually found the inspiration to be a journalist.
“I was at a point of my life where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I found it hard to get interested in school,” Watkins said. “The Battalion was where I found my passion. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of friends, but really it was what taught me my craft.”
The skills he learned at The Battalion and the network it provided opened doors for him while he was in college, Watkins said.
“I worked at The Battalion for probably a year and a half, but while I was still in school, I met the managing editor of The Eagle at the time and she offered me a job covering night cops,” Watkins said. “I stuck with that. After I graduated in 2008, they hired me on full-time.”
Watkins worked at The Eagle for four years before he was hired by the Dallas Morning News. In March of 2015, Watkins was hired by the Texas Tribune. Though his career has taken him many places since graduation, Watkins still remembers his time in The Battalion newsroom fondly.
“It’s really cool to have been a part of something that’s been around so long,” Watkins said. “I’m one of those names in a long list of people who [worked at The Battalion], and it’s cool to have been a part of that history.”
Watkins is now the breaking news editor at the Texas Tribune.
A student media star welcoming all to Aggieland
Kalee Castanon, Class of 2011, worked at the Aggieland Yearbook before she applied to The Battalion, where she quickly moved up the ranks. Castanon was editor-in-chief summer of 2009 and research editor in 2011.
“I was involved in student media already through the Aggieland yearbook and my mentor, [Robert] Wegener, encouraged me to apply for The Battalion one summer,” Castanon said. “I was really encouraged by him to apply and I never regretted it or looked back.”
Castanon said The Battalion taught her communication skills and kindled a lasting passion for the university.
“Working at The Battalion, I was able to develop my skills as a writer and my communication skills that I’ve been able to use in every single position that I’ve held,” Castanon said. “It also really helped develop my passion for Texas A&M. While I was working as a writer and an editor, I became very passionate about the future of Texas A&M, writing about the events that changed A&M.”
In her current position as the assistant director of visitor experience for Texas A&M, Castanon said she’s always on her toes with new challenges every day.
“In my work right now, there is no average day, just because everything is always changing at the visitor center,” Castanon said. “I supervise the tour guides and the student workers at the visitor center and every day comes a new challenge, new visitor, new experiences. I am really passionate about making sure everyone who comes to Texas A&M has a wonderful visit and if they weren’t already 100 percent Aggies before, that they leave wanting to come here as their number one school.”

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