The uniform, the spirit and the pride of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets can be seen and recognized worldwide. It is our university’s most prestigious organization and its members embody what it truly means to be an Aggie. Their courage, strength and integrity form the backbone of the A&M culture.
Within the Corps of Cadets there are some who go above and beyond to help make the organization the best that it can be. One such member is Senior J Lawton Lander, an Interdisciplinary Studies major from Danbury, Texas.
Lander is the current Corps Recruiting Officer. As such, he is considered the top cadet in charge of all recruiting operations for the Corps of Cadets. There are 22 cadets under his direct command and indirectly, he is in charge of approximately 100 cadets at all levels of leadership in the Corps. Together they work to ensure a healthy Corps for future generations of Aggies.
His face, his attitude and his enthusiasm is what those young men and women will remember when they have to make their decision on whether or not to join the Corps and A&M in general.
So what does he tell them? How does he bring in the next generation of Corps of Cadets?
Well, he tells them why he chose Texas A&M for himself.
“I love the culture – I don’t feel like I can be [a] part of a family like we have here at A&M, anywhere else,” Lander says. He continues, “I had two different teachers in high school [former Aggies Mrs. Reed and Mr. Robinson] who really pushed me in this direction, both in the classroom and through my involvement in FFA. I also visited campus a time or two and just felt the Spirit moving through campus.”
It is that Spirit that drove Lander to work his way up from cadet, to Recruiting Corporal for his outfit, to Corps Recruiting Sergeant, to Corps Recruiting Officer.
“I love people, I love the Corps, and I love Texas A&M. Recruiting for the Corps serves all three of my passions. I truly believe Texas A&M is a special place with special people and I believe that the Corps is such an integral part of the University,” Lander says.
His passion for the Corps drives him to be the best recruiter possible and “even if the people [he] interacts with don’t decide to join the Corps, the opportunity to share [his] love and passion for both is enough for [him].”
Going through his final year here at Texas A&M Lander reflects on his time with the Corps. “It’s truly humbling to be a part of something that is older and bigger than myself and that I know will continue on long after I’m gone,” he says.
He cherishes every moment he plays with the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. He treasures the awards he’s received, including the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, the College of Education and Human Development Dean’s List, and the Commandant’s Distinguished Student Award.
But his favorite memory, by far, with the Corps includes him and his fellow cadets throwing former Texas Governor Rick Perry into the Fish Pond during the 2012 football season after the Aggies BTHO Alabama.
The band travelled to Alabama but because of travel costs they were unable to take freshmen. That meant the freshmen got to stay behind for a free weekend without upperclassmen. He recalls, “it felt like a terrible thing to be left behind for that game but you learn very quickly to cherish any moments you can get without upperclassmen bossing you around!”
As the story goes, Lander and his fellow freshman cadets were in the middle of a run after the big game and happened to be in the right place at the right time. It is a long-standing tradition for the freshmen cadets to throw the Yell Leaders into the pond after a win. Governor Rick Perry, a former Texas A&M Yell Leader, volunteered to take the place of the current Yell Leaders and get thrown into the Fish Pond. In Lander’s words, this was “a chance of a lifetime.”
With such fond memories, lifelong friendships, and strong values, Lander’s future is surely bright.
Following his graduation in May, Lander will continue as a M.Ed student with plans to graduate as with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in the summer of 2017. He hopes to begin teaching middle school shortly after.