“Every time I shine or put on my boots, I’m reminded of the work that has led up to earning my boots and how it was recognized by the Hispanic Network. That recognition was filled with pride knowing that it came from a part of my heritage, culture, and background,” says Jazzlyn Gonzalez ‘21. For Jazzlyn, receiving a Boot Scholarship has been years in the making, from the moment she first stepped on the Quad for Freshman Orientation Week. Her journey through the Corps is one of dedication, hard work, and leadership – all of which led to her being awarded a pair of senior boots by The Texas A&M Hispanic Network.
Texas A&M University is home to thousands of students from a variety of different backgrounds, where students are recognized for their success at Texas A&M while also celebrating their cultural backgrounds. The Texas A&M Hispanic Network (TAMHN) serves as an advocate and support group for Hispanic students across campus and throughout the local community. TAMHN began as an informal gathering of fellow Aggies who shared cultural ties and common backgrounds. Their collective passion to pass on their legacy of knowledge, and transformative experiences to future Hispanic students became the hallmark of the TAMHN. Formally chartered by The Association of Former Students in November 2006, TAMHN began by addressing ways the university and former students could achieve the Vision 2020 goal of increasing diversity on campus. Currently, the TAMHN still strives to increase the number of Hispanic students attending Texas A&M, while also enhancing their experiences at Texas A&M.
The TAMHN also provides resources such as scholarships and mentorship opportunities to support these students during their academic pursuits at Texas A&M. Recently, the TAMHN awarded cadet Jazzlyn Gonzalez ‘21 a scholarship for her senior boots. In the Corps of Cadets, seniors earn the privilege of wearing distinctive knee-high leather boots, referred to as senior boots. In 1914 when the Corps of Cadets changed uniforms from the West Point uniform, the seniors wanted a way to differentiate themselves from the other classes. As a result, they began to wear distinctive military officer riding boots. By 1925, the boots became a part of the official cadet uniform. These boots not only distinguish senior cadets from other class years, but also represent their hard work and dedication over their four years in the Corps. However, senior boots are very expensive. Fortunately, TAMHN offers a scholarship for cadets to cover the cost of senior boots. The “Boot Scholarship” is awarded to cadets of Hispanic heritage who have excelled academically, served in leadership roles, and are actively involved on campus.
Jazzlyn Gonzalez ‘21, the 2020 recipient of the Hispanic Network Boot Scholarship, is from Cypress, Texas and is a Biomedical Science major, minoring in Public Health. Jazzlyn was originally a member of Squadron 5, and has quickly become a leader in the Corps. She now serves as the Career Readiness Officer for the Corps of Cadets, and is also the Executive Officer of the Cultural and Diversity Expansion Team (C.A.D.E.T.) in the Corps. Jazzlyn also enjoys volunteering with her church, singing, and playing piano. Following her graduation from A&M, Jazzlyn hopes to obtain a master’s degree or attend medical school and become a family physician. Jazzlyn discovered the scholarship opportunity through her aunt, Margarita Arevalo, who is involved with the TAMHN. After her aunt’s encouragement to apply, Jazzlyn soon received notification that she was awarded the scholarship.
Receiving the Boot Scholarship was special to Jazzlyn, because her boots are a visible symbol of her hard work and dedication as a student at Texas A&M and as a cadet in the Corps of Cadets. She encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities that organizations like the TAMHN provide students.
“As a student, you work so hard and wonder if it’ll really be recognized. Then, you get that one recognition that makes it all well worth it,” she says. “College is so expensive and all you want to do is be able to help your family in any way. Earning the boot scholarship was something that I was able to contribute toward my education. I think it’s important that these networks continue to inspire students to apply for opportunities that not only recognize their efforts but also their cultural backgrounds.”
Jazzlyn encourages students to seek out these opportunities, and not let them go by without trying. “You only get one chance, with no re-do’s, so search for these opportunities,” she advises.
By Kaitlin Villa ’22