On a recent trip to Washington, I had the opportunity to visit Congressman Ralph Hall, our long-serving representative for the Fourth Congressional District. About halfway through our very pleasant conversation, the congressman leaned forward in his chair and said in his unhurried way, “How can I help the university?”
Knowing that a congressman is continually besieged with requests for assistance, his gentle and genuine offer was both humbling and compelling.
Congressman Hall knows well the power of this university to shape lives and shape futures. His mother was a graduate of East Texas Normal College – “Professor Mayo’s College” – while his wife earned her degree from East Texas State Teachers College.
In this issue of PRIDE, we share with you stories of alumni and other friends of the university who, like Congressman Hall, have given back to the university that opened the door to a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities.
I have also learned powerful lessons about giving back from our students. This spring, I came upon a group of Hispanic students visiting with prospective students and their families about this wonderful university. I was struck by their enthusiasm, their mastery of two languages and two cultures, and their genuine desire to give back by using their own experiences to lead and inspire others.
I’ve visited with young veterans returning home after serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’d traded their uniforms for civilian clothes and were embarking on a new mission: to keep our nation strong by challenging themselves to become the best they can be through education.
I am especially moved by the stories that our older alumni share, stories about arriving in Commerce on a late-night train with little more than a cardboard suitcase and a dream. They left with a well-earned degree and a restless desire to put it to work. They now look back on a life well-lived and a world made better by their legacy of courage, commitment and generosity.
We’re proud of what you’ve done with your education, whether you received it from A&M-Commerce or “Old ET.” We’re proud as well of the role that this great university has played in your success, and of all the ways that you have made it better by giving back.
Dr. Dan R. Jones