If 2008 has a theme so far, it would be the Year of the Woman. Several women have achieved outstanding success in their fields and made history in doing so.
Everyone is familiar with the story of Hillary Rodham Clinton, including her rise to success in her own right as a U.S. Senator for the State of New York after serving in the role of wife, mother, and First Lady of Arkansas and the U.S.A., and her near-miss in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Today we were all surprised at the selection by Sen. John McCain of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a pro-life reformer and mother of five, as his running mate for the White House on the Republican ticket. While Geraldine Ferraro was the first female to ever be a vice-presidential candidate, the selection of Gov. Palin potentially makes her the first female to serve as Vice-President of the United States.
On Saturday, August 30, another female will do something that no female has ever done before. The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band will step off from the north end of Kyle Field for the first time ever with a female drum major!
Samantha Kropp, an architecture major from El Paso, Texas, is a member of A Battery and will be the Artillery Band Drum Major, one of the side drum major positions that work with the head drum major to lead the band on the field and in the stands. The other drum majors are Infantry Band Drum Major Adam Broussard, a political science major out of B Company from Katy, Texas, and Combined Band Drum Major Elliot Stump, a general studies major out of B Company from Crosby, Texas.
Says Samantha, “This position means so much to me, not because I am the first female or even in a high position, but the fact that I will have the chance to give back to the band and the organization that has given so much to me and all my buddies.”
Formed in 1894, the Aggie Band, like the school that was then called the A. & M. College of Texas, was all male. No females were admitted to Texas A&M University until the 1960’s, and no females were part of the Aggie Band until 1985. Even that took a court order!
Now fully integrated into the band and the rest of the Corps of Cadets, females have held many leadership positions throughout the Corps…with a few major exceptions. Now, the position of drum major is no longer one of them.
Each spring, the drum major candidates go through a rigorous selection process that includes individual academic performance, contributions to the band, command presence, integrity, respect among fellow bandsmen, and how they represent themselves, the Corps of Cadets, and the Aggie Band.
Qualified candidates then work several weeks to prepare for auditions involving basic baton and whistle commands and conducting skills. Tryouts include conducting the band in various marches and leading the band through a basic drill on the practice field.
Final selection of the new drum majors is made by a committee of the band directors, the current drum majors, and the commander designate for the following year. The announcement of who has been selected to lead the largest military marching band in the United States for the next year is made by the current drum majors.
As a member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, Samantha lives with her outfit on campus, wears a uniform to class every day, participates in morning and evening formations and eats with the Corps in Duncan Dining Hall.
The military lifestyle begins as freshmen, or “fish”, and is a fulltime lifestyle. Texas A&M University is one of only a handful of universities that is also a senior military college and has a resident cadet corps.
The students live together, wear a distinctive uniform, have class distinctions and a leadership structure under the supervision of active and retired commissioned and non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel of the United States armed forces.
While military service after graduation is no longer required, Texas A&M still commissions more officers into the military than any other school except the service academies.
For more information about the Aggie Band, Texas A&M University, or Bryan and College Station real estate, contact this former member of A Company, Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band Class of 1994. Whoop!!!