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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

African American Aggies share the places they’ve been

Photo by Photo by Annie Lui

MSC Aggie Leaders of Tomorrow and the MSC Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee hosted “Oh the Places We’ve Been” Monday night.

From one of Texas A&M’s first African American students curating a museum in Brazos Valley, to a recent grad dominating the corporate world, “Oh, the Places We’ve Been” discussed the challenges faced by African American students at Texas A&M and how their stories can motivate every Aggie, no matter their background.
MSC Aggie Leaders of Tomorrow and the MSC Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee hosted the lecture Monday night, featuring African American former students Wayne Sadberry ‘70, Taylor Cotton ‘17, and Dustin Kemp ‘07. Each speaker shared their experiences at Texas A&M as students of color and how to they overcame their personal challenges.
MSC ALOFT runs the Texas A&M campus TED talk, hosting a major speaker program every spring, and another smaller program in the fall, according to ALOT member Elizabeth Boudreau. The group wanted to hold a student’s empowerment program, and believed reaching out to MSC WBAC would be a good idea to bring this program to life Boudreau said.
“We want students to understand that no matter where you can come from, you can overpass your dreams and you can do better than you ever imagined,” Boudreau said “You can see how successful other people have been and you can strive to be even more successful than that.”
Sade Hill, WBAC chair, said she was really thankful that MSC ALOT came up with this idea. WBAC recently finished coordinating events for the 2017 Black Former Student Network reunion this past weekend, which focused on honoring the first African American students admitted to A&M. Hill said the lecture was a great way to wrap up the weekend.
“For the majority of our campus, they are different than the speakers, but understanding that you can still learn something from them is important for all students to understand,” Hill said.
Sadberry, one of the first African American students admitted to A&M and curator of the Brazos Valley African American museum, recalled the places he’s been and how he is pleased to come back to a very different Texas A&M. From San Francisco to Australia, Sadberry said some of his most meaningful journeys have been because of A&M.
“After coming back from the Air Force I met a professor in the oceanography department who was preparing to go to Antarctica,” Sadberry said. “He wanted to measure solar radiation, so he ecncouraged me to enroll at A&M.”
During her own time at A&M, Cotton said she learned the importance of building relationships with others, which has helped her excel as a young professional in her position at Union Pacific.
“I like to think I’m really independent so I wouldn’t really ask for help,” Cotton said. “I learned the hard way my junior year that you can’t do everything on your own and if you have the opportunity for people around you to help, it’s ok. That doesn’t make you a bad person, because everyone needs help eventually.”
Kemp’s story was all about independence, as he recalled a night sleeping on the administration building steps.
After eight years of personal challenges, he graduated with a degree in agricultural leadership and now remembers the important life lesson he learned at an early age that would carry him through to future success.
“I remember when I was nine years old, and I spilled those hot grits in my lap and my mom comes over and tells me to slide it back in the plate and finish what I started,” Kemp said. “See grit is powerful. Grit is something we should use to stare down at our adversaries and never back down from them.”

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