Everyone at A&M always talks about our traditions, but one of them has taken on a whole new meaning now that it has personally applied to me.

Muster is a tradition that, each year on April 21, honors any Aggie anywhere in the world who passed away that year. Normally, there are Musters held all over the world, honoring local Aggies that have passed on, from the largest one on campus, to over 300 locations worldwide.

The most important part of the tradition is called the ‘Roll Call for the Absent,’ where the names of all of the Aggies who passed away in the previous year are read out. And anyone that knew that Aggie answer’s ‘here’ to show that even though they’ve passed on, they’ll always be part of the Aggie family.

This year, one of those names called was my grandfather, William O’Connor III, class of 1950, who passed away in late 2019. He was the most redass (a term for someone that really shows their Aggie spirit) Aggie I have ever known, so getting to honor him in Muster was a really special moment for me.

Social distancing has changed a lot of events and memories that we may make together, but Tuesday, I saw it open up a special tradition to the world when, for the first time, Aggies around the world were able to tuned in at the same time for the campus Muster ceremony.

People I know who would not have attended the campus Muster ceremony were able to watch from home and say “here” when my grandfather’s name was called, something they would not have been able to do otherwise.

It was a really special time full of camaraderie and love. The Muster Committee did a great job of honoring those whose names were called, and at the end of the night, you could see Reed Arena lit up with candles spelling “Here”. Even though we were not all present physically at the ceremony, I felt the Aggie family coming together as I watched people say here on the website and honor those who could not say “here” themselves.

There has been a lot of change in this time, and Tuesday, I saw the change really bring out the best in the school that I get to call home. I have been grateful for my last 6 years at A&M, and as I enter my last year at A&M, I am grateful that I get to be a part of the Aggie family forever.

Last night showed me that no matter where we go, we are always Aggies, and we will always be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Finding a New Home

This summer, I went on an adventure. Really, I went on many adventures, but one of them was completely veterinary related and I loved it a lot.

To better understand my adventure, you should know that I would like to move to the mountains when I graduate. I love the mountains and snow, and I don’t like it being summer until October.

So, this summer, I decided that I should try to figure out where I want to live when I graduate.

The best thing about being a veterinarian is that the entire U.S. is open to you when you graduate—everywhere needs a vet.

The worst thing about being a veterinarian is that if you have no idea where you want to live, it is hard to narrow it down—the entire country is open to you. I had narrowed it to the mountains, but there are so many mountains, so I needed to figure out more.

On July 5, I loaded up my car and started my three-day solo road trip to Idaho. Solo road trips might not be everyone’s favorite thing, but I love them.

I downloaded some books on tape and drove through areas of the U.S. that I had never been to before, like Utah and northern New Mexico. It was quite an adventure, and I am grateful that my 21-year-old car made it to Idaho. I think I worried my parents, but I was having a great time.

In Idaho, I rode with a few dairy veterinarians in the area that I was in. I had never been exposed to dairy medicine, so it was quite a new experience.

I got to see the difference in working for an operation versus having many large dairies as clients. I also had the opportunity to work with pregnant cows and got to see what the role of the veterinarian was in large-scale operations. It was a great experience that opened my eyes to the different roles of vets in different industries.

I was only in Idaho for a week, so after that week was done, I packed up my car again and drove to Bozeman, Montana, where I spent two weeks at a clinic.

Let me tell you, Bozeman is gorgeous. I loved it there. I would wake up in the mornings, and it would be 45 degrees. To put that in perspective, it is the middle of October in Texas, and I don’t think that is has gotten into the 40s yet.

I really enjoyed the clinic in Bozeman. They were willing to teach me and give me opportunities to work with them.

I really appreciate the veterinary field as a whole because most vets are willing to teach; that means that as students, we have the unique opportunity to reinforce what we are learning in class and learn about what it will be like when we graduate.

My adventure ended with my dad flying to Bozeman and driving to Yellowstone with me. We camped and hiked and saw one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. The bison that were on the side of the road were also great!

We stayed for three days, and I was sad when we had to leave. I hope to move somewhere that will allow more access to gorgeous outdoor scenery like that.

My adventure ended on July 31 when we got home. I drove 4,330 miles in 26 days on this trip. I had so much fun, and I am so grateful for the time that veterinary students get off during the summer, which allows us to have time to choose what we want to do, whether it is veterinary related or not.

This was my last summer off before I graduate because next summer, I will be in fourth year, when we spend an entire calendar year working through the different services in the Small and Large Animal Hospitals.

I will look back on this adventure fondly, and, thankfully, I think it helped serve the purpose of learning more about the veterinary field and about where I want to move.