New initiative featuring select group of student leaders aims to enhance engagement with the Texas A&M student body
By Samantha Atchley ’17
Beginning in the 2020 fall semester, a hand-picked group of ambitious Aggies will serve on the 12th Man Foundation’s first Collegiate Council. This select group comprised of current students and student-athletes will be dedicated to enhancing the organization’s footprint through ambassadorship and engagement across campus.
As a way to bridge any gap between the student body and the 12th Man Foundation, the Collegiate Council has been created to encourage student involvement while also providing them with an opportunity to gain professional experience in the world of fundraising and college athletics.
“We wanted to create a stronger connection with the student body so that when students graduate, they have a better understanding of what the 12th Man Foundation is and how they can give back in support of Texas A&M Athletics.”
“We wanted to create a stronger connection with the student body so that when students graduate, they have a better understanding of what the 12th Man Foundation is and how they can give back in support of Texas A&M Athletics,” said Michael Solomon, Senior Vice President of Annual Fund and Donor Services. “We also wanted to provide a leadership opportunity for students to assist with this initiative.”
This elite group of students will serve as an extension of the 12th Man Foundation’s brand, representing the organization on campus through student education, engagement and promotion.
As Manager of Annual Fund Callie Boenigk says, representing the 12th Man Foundation comes with a lot of responsibility.
“The Collegiate Council will be a highly esteemed, professional leadership organization,” she said. “Our members are to be the best of the best. We interviewed each candidate to be certain that they are dedicated, career-driven, passionate and bring something to the table. We want to make sure when employers see this on a resume, they know the weight Collegiate Council holds. They will know that the student is second to none.”
After an extensive interview process, the 12th Man Foundation is proud to welcome eight members to the 2020-21 Collegiate Council: Madison Pennington ’23, Cameron Crenwelge (Aggie Equestrian) ’21, Olivia Treadwell ’22, Abel Gonzalez ’21, Garrett Wright ’21, Daria Britton ’22 (Aggie Soccer), Julia Black ’22 (Aggie Track & Field) and Nicole Lopez ’21.
“I’m so excited to be a part of the Collegiate Council because I’m extremely passionate about Texas A&M Athletics, but more importantly the student-athletes themselves,” Lopez said.
In its inaugural year, the Collegiate Council is expected to set the standard by establishing goals, completing projects and finding new ways to support the 12th Man Foundation’s mission throughout A&M’s campus. Collegiate Council members will likely assist the Major Gifts and Annual Fund departments on projects and events, promote the 12th Man Foundation on campus, create social media content to connect with the current student demographic, plan Council events and speak to different on-campus organizations.
“In this first year, it will be a lot of trial and error,” Boenigk said. “However, with the current number of student members we have, and the number of students already engaged with the purchase of a sports pass, it is evident that we have work to do. The Collegiate Council will create a tactical plan for the academic year to accomplish what they see best.”
While the $25 student membership is open to all students enrolled at A&M, Collegiate Council members are chosen to represent this population as leaders and brand ambassadors on campus. The Collegiate Council’s priorities will revolve around growing membership, creating affinity, increasing exposure on campus and launching one annual event for all student members.
According to Solomon, the 12th Man Foundation is excited to see what the first Collegiate Council will bring to the organization.
“We expect a lot of new ideas on how to get our message out – some tone setting for the way this program will take shape in years to come,” he said. “What an exciting thing to be a part of – the first year of something that could become something.”
Certainly, this dedicated group of Aggies is expected to take student involvement with the 12th Man Foundation to new heights. As Boenigk says, the Collegiate Council has the potential to create a lasting impact that unifies the 12th Man Foundation and current students better than ever before.
“I believe there is a general lack of acknowledgment and recognition of the 12th Man Foundation by the student body right now,” Boenigk said. “I think the best way to really create understanding is if we can get the Collegiate Council in front of students, speaking at New Student Conferences, having a presence at Fish Camps, etc. The main benefit would be getting to the students early on in their journey as an Aggie and creating that lifelong affinity and love for this university.”