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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‘Make the world better’

Photo courtesy of Barbara McDonald

Brothers Pat McDonald (left), Class of 1985, and Dan McDonald (right), Class of 1986, pose for a photo during a day of hunting circa 1977.

There will come a time for every Aggie to hear their class year be said, followed by an ‘OLD!’ 

For current students, old Aggies, or old Ags, are a wonderful source for wisdom and always have an entertaining story waiting in their back pocket to be pulled out. In a conversation between brothers Pat McDonald, Class of 1985, and Dan McDonald, Class of 1986, along with their friend Ben Jones, Class of 1982, the old Ags shared fond memories of their time in Aggieland, discussing what it truly means to be an Aggie and passed along advice to current students. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a red-ass conversation without mention of the famous Dixie Chicken.

“After Friday class, the first stop was The Chicken,” Pat said. “I would get a beer and a cheeseburger and enjoy good camaraderie, good friends and make good memories,” Jones said. “You can review your test [in The Chicken], it’s a more relaxed environment.” 

Whether relaxing at The Chicken or hitting Lake Somerville for the weekend, studying wasn’t always the top priority during his time at A&M, Jones said. 

Dan said for him personally, graduating was quite the accomplishment.

“I was listening to Clayton Williams’ speech when The Association of Former Students Building was being dedicated to him,” Dan said. “‘It’s important for A&M to keep in touch with their honors students who will come back and do great things, but they need to stay in touch with their C and D students who will come back and donate buildings.’ — I knew then that I had hope.” 
In spite of their occasional academic negligence, they learned values at Texas A&M that carried over into their careers, Dan said — working hard no matter how they were feeling was always a given, and they all desired to be the best they could be. 

“Aggies always show up, we were there bright and early, ready to go,” Dan said. “Our boss hired us because we were Aggies. We were trained, presentable, ready to go no matter what, we never let how we felt dictate our day, we were there to do a job.” 

In addition to learning values, these men all learned that A&M is a place for lifelong friendships to be made, Pat said. 

“The friendships you make at A&M will last a lifetime, we all made lots of new and lifelong friendships,” Pat said.

Friendships are important and something to value, Jones said. 

“The closest friends my wife and I have are roommates and friends from A&M,” Jones said. 

Values were learned and friendships were made, and all three men said they found a great deal of importance associated with the Aggie ring while at A&M. 
“There is an instant bond with the Aggie Ring,” Jones said. “When wearing it, you are expected to act responsibly and with honor, so you always want to be at your best when dealing with others.” 
The Aggie Ring comes with expectations, Dan said, and former students understand what it means and are always willing to ask your class when they see the ring on your finger. 

“Our uncle was driving through El Campo back in the [19]60s or [19]70s and when he stopped to have his truck filled up with gas [and] the guy pumping for him asked about his Aggie Ring,” Dan said. “Well, it wasn’t our uncles’ ring, he had just found it, and told the gas station employee that he was determined to return the ring to the person who lost it by looking up the name on the inside. After some searching he was able to find the man and return it.”

Part of growing older and mellowing out involves maturing, and as an Aggie, has a lot to do with giving back, Jones said. 

“All the book learning condenses into this: How to think, solve problems and make decisions,” Jones said. “Figure out what your calling is and study it; get involved in extracurricular activities; build relationships and learn teamwork; use the gifts God gave you; learn to give of yourself and make that a habit.”

Both Dan and Pat said they agreed with Jones’ words. All three men said they found it necessary to ensure every Aggie gives back to the community and to the school that helped them grow, because at the end of the day, it is more about what you do for others than for yourself.

“Being an Aggie is a lifetime commitment and responsibility,” Jones said. “Your job as an Aggie is to make the world better.” 

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