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"We Are Who We Are" - The True Value of the Corps Community

This summer, I have had the privilege to play a significant role in the creation of this outfit website. Since I received the first articles from my generous peers, I have been thinking about what I would write about if I were given the opportunity. What part of the Corps experience is important, but not advertised? What could I say that would be real without being disparaging? Simply put, if I could write an article to the conflicted, 17-year-old version of myself back in Naperville, Illinois, what would I tell him?

The answer to these questions revealed itself to me as I read through my friends’ stories and experiences. In each and every one of them there was a common thread that was always stated but never really explained, the Corps community. Upon reflection, I realized that the nature of this community has beguiled me ever since I stepped onto the Quad in 2013. Before I came to A&M, all I would hear is that your buddies would “marry you & bury you”, but after two years of constant conflict and complaining I have often struggled to reconcile my experience with what I was promised.

At first, I tried to deny that I was struggling with my buddies. I believed that complaining about their habits or explaining their comments about me to others would classify me as weak, or worse, disloyal. Coming from out-of-state to a university where I had no prior relationships had left me in a vulnerable place, and in many ways I had bet my freshman year experience on how I would relate to the 20 other strangers who had come into Squadron 6 with me. The worst part of the whole experience, however, was that I believed that I was the only person who felt this way. This is because students at Texas A&M in general and recruiters from the Corps in particular do a great job of promoting their experiences. Yet, to my overwhelmed fish-self all these comments were simply drowning me in a sea of expectations about what type of student, cadet, and friend that I had to be to truly live up to ‘the Aggie experience.’ I ultimately felt like I could never belong in the Corps community and that I had failed to become a true Aggie.

Eventually I stopped listening to what Aggies were ‘supposed to be like’, and I let my buddies and myself be who we actually were. When I allowed this to happen, however, I realized something truly remarkable; this was the strangest community I had ever been a part of. Don’t get me wrong; every individual within my class is exceptional in their own right. No, the strangeness of my buddy class, (and as I would eventually figure out the strangeness of every buddy class), is that we would never have formed this community on our own volition. Sure, maybe two or three of us would have

probably become friends even if we hadn’t joined the Corps, but there is no conceivable scenario where all of us would have chosen to spend the amount of time that we do with each other if each of us had been on our own. What I realized as I spent more time with my buddies is that the strangeness of our relationships with one another actually exemplified what makes the Corps community unique and valuable.

In the modern world of social media and personally targeted advertising it is hard for us to remember a time when we truly ‘had’ to put up with anyone. In fact, all of the stats show that more Americans than ever are living in communities that are politically and socio-economically homogeneous. As a member of the millennial generation, this radically transactional and individualistic world is all that I know. What makes the Corps especially valuable in today’s world is that it forces myself and other members of my generation to live in an authentic community. FOW is perhaps the first time that millennials are asked to work alongside, put up with, or even spend time with anyone who differs from them in any significant way. The Corps is often the first place where millennials are asked to accomplish tasks that require significant team-effort and that none of them have had any prior experience in. In short, I would argue that the Corps community is valuable because it is one of the last places on the modern American campus where students have the opportunity to participate in a true community rather than simply joining a collection of like-minded people.

Ultimately, if I could send one message to that 17-year-old kid in Illinois based on what two years of the Corps has taught me, it would be this. People are who they are. Accept your subordinates’ ability for what it is, and find ways to help them improve everyday. Accept your leaders for who they are, and assist them in areas that they struggle in because their success will benefit everyone. And finally, among your peers, be the friend that they need, and strive to understand them in the way that they want to be understood. These lessons about people are perhaps the most valuable treasures from my time at A&M, and I hope that every member of the Corps, past and present, can see how these lessons have interacted with their own experiences.

Haddon Hodge is a junior history & economics double major at Texas A&M, and this fall he will be working on Third Brigade Staff. Haddon's academic load often keeps him pretty busy, but in his free time he has developed a love for economics podcasts, (Planet Money, More or Less, etc.), as well as a love for his local Church, (Grace Bible Church). If you would like to learn more about either you can email him at

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