Lynn Hagan’s $25,000 gift will create the first endowment for the Women’s Resource Center. (Audrey Bratton/Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs)
By Sondra White, Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs
From the moment she first stepped onto the Texas A&M University campus in 1973 to the day she agreed to a major gift for the Women’s Resource Center, Lynn Hagan has been an agent of change. Her ability to empower others—particularly women and young girls―through education and grassroots activism, has shaped much of her adult life.
Her $25,000 gift will create the first endowment for the Women’s Resource Center, providing funds for a variety of programs, such as Elect Her: Aggie Women Win, Salary Negotiation Workshops, and the American Association of University Women at Texas A&M.
“I’ve been involved with Women’s Resource Center programs for a few years now, and have become friends with Heather Wheeler, the program coordinator and driving force behind this endeavor,” said Hagan. “The center can use the exposure this endowment will create. My gift will enhance the great work already being done—and it is not just for women. It will benefit all Texas A&M students.”
Early days in Aggieland
When she was still a student at Madison High School in Houston, Hagan attended an Aggie football game with a young man who was a freshman at Texas A&M. “I immediately fell in love with the whole ambiance of the place and never applied anywhere else,” she said.
She recalls a few challenges associated with being a woman at Texas A&M during the 1970s.
“PE was optional because there were no dressing rooms for women, and being called a ‘Maggie’ versus an ‘Aggie’ was pretty common—it still bothers me to this day,” Hagan said. “Nevertheless, back then everybody said ‘howdy,’ and I have many positive memories. If I had an issue, I just had to deal with it and move on. We learned to work around the challenges we faced being the minority gender on campus.”
Hagan found a home in Keathley Hall, volunteering as a dormitory representative all four years of college. She was also a member of the Fencing Club.
She never imagined that Don Hagan ’76, the guy she met at a dorm mixer who lived in Hotard Hall and studied physics, would end up being her husband. This year they celebrate 40 years of marriage.
Coming of age as an advocate
After completing her Texas A&M degree in anthropology, Hagan worked at a nature and science center in New Orleans, where she developed an extensive children’s aerospace education program and created a summer camp for girls.
The American Association of University Women awarded her a career development grant, which allowed her to continue her studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. She completed master’s degrees in recreation and social work, and during this time worked as a mental health provider for people with chronic and acute mental illness. It was during this time that she became a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Don’s career with Chevron as a geoscientist took the Hagans to Kuwait, where Lynn directed the Discovery Place, part of the Scientific Center of Kuwait.
“Living in the Middle East was further inspiration for my involvement with women’s issues,” Hagan said. “I had to remind myself that I was a guest in their country, and that it was not my place to try to change their culture or to change individuals. That kind of change must come from within.”
She encouraged her female employees to participate in the 2005 demonstrations surrounding the Kuwaiti parliament to reinforce their need for suffrage. That same year, the government of Kuwait granted women the right to vote and run for elected office.
Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hagan provided psychological assessment and treatment for U.S. State Department employees and contractors.
“We lived in the Middle East during a turbulent time,” she said. “So much happened, including the U.S. invasion of Iraq. All of it shaped my perception of women in this world, and my place as an Aggie in this world. It is all about selfless service. This core value transcends the university. When you live overseas, especially in situations like this, selfless service takes on a far different meaning.”
After another move to Aberdeen, Scotland, she worked as a consultant for the National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Later, Hagan earned a doctorate in psychology from Southern California University.
In 2001, Hagan was the guest speaker at a brown bag seminar hosted by the Women’s Resource Center. “I talked about what it was like to be a Western woman in the Middle East after 9-11,” she said. “That’s when I seriously thought about how I could make a difference for students through the center.”
With a matching gift from Chevron (Don’s former employer), Lynn was able to create an endowment that will fund women’s programming at Texas A&M well into the future.
“This gift is about fostering a supportive environment for all Texas A&M students to engage in educational activities,” she said. “There is so much more parity between genders on campus today versus when I was an undergraduate in the ’70s. However, there is much still to accomplish. We need to ensure gender parity among our top student leaders, and in business and government in the United States and across the world.”
Hagan gives both treasure and time. She enjoys counseling women and girls who are struggling with career and life choices, and has a knack for making connections that often result in big wins for those she mentors.
“Don and I both enjoy doing this,” she said. “It’s just who we are, and it’s a big part of being an Aggie. It goes back to selfless service, to giving back what was given to us, and paying it forward to the next generation.”
Media contact: Sondra White, 979-458-3296, firstname.lastname@example.org.