Mandy Zalmanek ’20 – Student Spotlight
College Station, Texas
Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band (baritone) & Aggie Pullers
“Instantly, on the first day of college, I had 20 best friends. When you live together and experience nearly everything together 24/7, bonds are strong. I’m not the best runner, but we run nearly every morning. When I start falling out of the block, my buddies remind me that I can do it. They never let me down, and they aren’t going to let me let myself down. If I am ever in trouble, I can always go to them. It’s a deep relationship of trust that’s not easy to explain unless you live it.
The Corps has helped me to focus clearly on what I have to accomplish, to get things done more efficiently, and to handle tasks and assignments under pressure. Because of my training and leadership experiences in the Corps of Cadets, I am learning to face and overcome challenging situations that come up in my life, and to lead others through my example.”
Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band
“My heart was racing the first time they gave us the go-ahead to start moving onto Kyle Field from the stands. The students and former students—even the visitors—are all watching you. We rush into our lines, and then times slows to a crawl. We wait. I run through the drill in my mind a few more times because I do not want to be the one to mess up. As soon as the clock hits zero, I focus in. I hear that first whistle signaling to run onto the field, and my heart races again. And then it happens: The famous voice of Col. (Ret.) Jay Brewer ’81: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, now forming at the north end of Kyle Field, the nationally famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band!’ with the entire stadium chanting along. The horns-up whistle blows, and my brain blocks out all other noises. Until I saw a video of one of our performances, I did not know that Col. Brewer explains what we are doing to the crowd at Kyle Field. I make it through the drill, like a test for which I studied all night long for a week and know every answer without hesitation or thinking too hard. I savor the moment that we hit that last mark to the block T and sprint off the field together. I am honored to be a part of this incredible group of Aggies, and I understand that my time here is limited. I’m blessed to have this incredible opportunity, and each and every halftime humbles me even more.”
Quote to Live By
“Press on.” The words are tattooed on the underside of her left wrist as a reminder to face the challenges of life with determination and persistence.
“It’s from Philippians 3:14 in the Bible: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
“There are great opportunities with the USDA for Ag Economics majors. I’ve looked at being a financial advisor, because I don’t want people to get taken advantage of, or being involved in operations analysis. I want to other people to succeed and if I can have a hand in making that happen, then I can be satisfied in life because ultimately I want to help others.”
At Home in the Outdoors
During her freshman year, Zalmanek joined Aggie Pullers, a competition tractor team that designs a quarter-scale tractor each year. The team is already working on its tractor for next year, and completing minor details for a competition in June.
“I’ve loved tractors my entire life,” she said. “I also love hunting and I love just being outdoors. I am very much a hands-on, outside-the-city-limits person. A good day is going out to my grandparents’ farm just outside College Station so I can see the stars, build a bonfire, and hang out with friends.”
“I love the traditions of Silver Taps and Aggie Muster because you are taking the time to honor another family and show support. Last year on the night, we found out that one of our juniors had passed, we gathered on the Quad in his honor. So many people from around campus showed up to stand with us. This experience showed me that the spirit is strong within the Aggie family.”
Her friends and family agree that Mandy approaches life with selfless service. “Even if I’m really busy, if someone needs help, I go. I will put everything else aside because people are more important than whatever I might be doing at the time.
By: Athlyn Allen ’19