Anne Marie Freeman ’15 wasn’t born in Texas, but she got here as soon as she could--which, as it turned out, was in plenty of time. Plenty of time to join her high school’s Fire Truck Crew, an overalls-clad dance group modeled after the Yell Leaders and co-coached by a couple of Aggies. Plenty of time to absorb the Aggie spirit from a teacher whose daughter attended Texas A&M, and plenty of time to catch an A&M basketball game and fall in love with Aggieland.
“The whole ‘Howdy!’ thing just took me away,” she recalls. “I loved the atmosphere, so I decided to come.” She enrolled as a communication major because, “I did broadcast journalism in high school. I knew I wanted to do that and, someday, become Oprah Winfrey. (laughs) I have aspirations.”
Now, Anne Marie freely admits coming from the melting pot of Dallas to a campus that’s predominately white was a culture shock. But she figured college is supposed to challenge you. Prepare you for the real world, where you can’t always operate in your comfort zone. Imagine her surprise when she discovered, the transition wasn’t as difficult as she expected—thanks to Aggie hospitality and a couple well-known Aggie traditions.
“Fish camp really helped me out,” she says. “I was able to meet a lot of people there. Plus, they gave us this packet of information about all the churches you can go to in College Station, and that was very helpful. Then, during Gig’em Week, I met a lot of Black Aggies. They were very friendly, very approachable, and they told me about my options, as far as student organizations focused on minorities or women.”
While Anne Marie likes all the organizations Texas A&M has to offer—because “there’s literally something for everyone”—she opted for MEDALS and ExCEL (two conferences housed in the Department of Multicultural Services), Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference, better known as SBSLC.
Deciding she wanted to focus this year, Anne Marie narrowed her involvement to Sigma Gamma Rho and SBSLC, two organizations that more than satisfy her passion for giving back to the communities where she’s involved. She enjoys seeing people move forward, loves knowing she’s part of that process.
“It’s easy to forget all those people who sacrificed so we could get where we are today,” she says. “So, it’s important to commemorate those people by giving back, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to do that. I am, and I want to give it my all.”
Programs like SBSLC and Sigma Gamma Rho’s A3 for Life (an HIV/AIDS awareness education initiative) and Operation Big Book Bag (a school-supply drive) give Anne Marie a chance to reach out to large numbers of people, both locally and across the state. Through Step Up, Speak Out, and Motivate, Sigma Gamma Rho uses performances at the Lincoln Center to encourage community kids to stay in school and go to college.
“We make sure we’re continuously giving back to the community things that are important health-wise and education-wise,” she explains. “I feel those are the big problems we have in our community.”
She may have felt apprehensive coming in to Texas A&M, but these days you would be hard pressed to find a more dyed-in-the-wool Texas Aggie than Anne Marie Freeman. Talk to her for any length of time about this university, and you’ll hear one word, over and over again: amazing.
“Fifty years ago, women weren’t allowed on campus,” she points out. “Minorities weren’t allowed. Now, it’s amazing to see those people who are always fighting to make sure those groups are stacked up properly against their counterparts. Just to have the Department of Multicultural Services is an amazing thing—all the amazing programs they have. And the Women’s Resource Center and GLBT Resource Center? Just amazing! There are on-campus resources available to everyone.”
Texas A&M has come a long way in a great way, says Anne Marie, and she has no doubt the university will continue to grow and improve. She describes it as a welcoming place, a great place for minority students who are willing to challenge themselves and take the initiative to spark change.
Thinking about both the university’s progress and future possibilities, she smiles. “I love Texas A&M! It’s a great breeding ground for leaders.”
Find out more about (M)aximizing (E)ducational (D)evelopment through (A)cademic and (L)eadership (S)kills, (MEDALS) a conference designed to inform underrepresented high school populations about continuing education opportunities and resources, at http://medals.tamu.edu/. See how ExCEL helps freshmen find an academic, social, and personal balance at Texas A&M University by visiting http://excel.tamu.edu/. For 26 years the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference (SBSLC) has provided a yearly forum where African-American students from accross the country can engage in meaningful personal and professional development. Find out more at http://sbslc.tamu.edu/. Interested in learning more about Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.? Visit their website at http://lambdasquared.wix.com/sgrho. Contributed by: