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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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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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One step away
June 8, 2024

First Hispanic Yell Leader looks forward

Memo+Salinas
Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver
Memo Salinas

UPDATE: Battalion staff reached out to Ben Debayle, Class of 2009, to inquire about the possibility of him being the true first Hispanic Yell Leader. Debayle debunked the claims and said he extends congratulations to Memo.
“I do have Hispanic family and heritage which I love and am proud of,” Debayle said. “However, the greatest majority of my ancestry (including ancestors in Latin America) are of European dissent. Because of that, I have always felt that identifying as Caucasian is most accurate and what I select on applications, etc.”
As tradition states, in 1907 the first Yell Leaders took the field to entertain the female guests from Texas Woman’s University at an Aggie football game. They scrambled to find outfits, which turned out to be white janitor overalls, and ran onto Kyle Field. The Yell Leaders were such a hit that upperclassmen decided only they would be eligible for this role.
As the years went on, qualifications to become a Yell Leader were put in place. Eventually, five Yell Leaders were selected from upperclassmen, voted on by Texas A&M students. These students are considered ambassadors of the Aggie Spirit.
Now, 113 years later, Guillermo Salinas, more commonly known as Memo Salinas, is the first Hispanic Yell Leader to be elected in Texas A&M’s history, said Richard Biondi, Class of 1960 and executive director of the association of former Yell Leaders.
“After confirmation, I think the thought of Memo being the first Hispanic [Yell Leader] is probably correct,” Biondi said.
After being elected as Junior Yell Leader for 2020-2021, Memo recalls his journey to this position. As a young boy from Laredo, TX, Memo dreamed of being an Aggie just like the members of his family.
“I come from a big Aggie family, and I always thought that I knew why I wanted to be an Aggie and why I wanted to come to A&M,” Memo said. “But it wasn’t ‘till I got here and joined the Corps and got involved and met all my friends here at A&M and went to things like Silver Taps and Muster and started learning what it meant to be an Aggie and why all these Aggies in my family loved A&M.”
Daniel Salinas, Class of 1989 and Memo’s father, took Memo to A&M grounds for the first time as a 10-day-old infant. He even remembers the date, Sept. 10, 1999, which was also his 10-year class reunion. Daniel said his classmates were in awe that he brought such a small baby to Aggieland. However, Daniel loved being an Aggie and his family was everything to him.
“He has wanted this since he was a baby,” Daniel said. “He was 10 days old when I first took him to A&M. We are a big happy Hispanic family, and we do everything together and I had a 10-year class reunion. I took all my family with me.”
Though Daniel was not initially aware that Memo was the first Hispanic Yell Leader, he said this information has made him even more proud. Yell Leaders are an important representation of A&M, and Daniel said he hopes his son can use this position to inspire all minorities to follow their dreams.
“We are very proud of him, and we are blessed with the opportunity,” Daniel said. “It means a lot, always, to be the person who breaks the glass ceiling. Hopefully, this will encourage other minorities to seek opportunities and inspire someone else of minority descent to aim big and make these dreams come true. If he can do it, you can too and so can everybody else.”
Aggies support, love and accept one another, and Memo said he believes that is what got him this position. He said he is grateful for A&M and its people for accepting him and looking beyond the color of his skin.
“I don’t want people to feel discouraged when going out for something because they are a minority like myself,” Memo said. “In my opinion, that should motivate us to go for it. I’m so glad that things are different here in Aggieland and that we look at other things, including people’s character, passion and drive. I think that I am good proof of that.”
Memo said he believes inclusion allows Aggies to learn and connect with each other. At a school as large as A&M, it is of utmost importance, and he is humbled that his Aggie family has given him the chance to open the doors for Aggies who will come after him.
“I want not only Hispanics like myself, but everybody to be represented here at A&M,” Memo said. “In a school of nearly 70,000 people, I believe it is important that everybody is represented and included, and something beautiful through this is how we are able to learn and grow from each other. I hope that this does open up that door for a lot of other people after me. I pray that this is impactful and helpful for the generations of Aggies after me.”

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