Texas A&M Foundation Board Of Trustees Honors Three Graduating Seniors
The Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees recognized Courtney Eeds ’22, Anna Fedewa ’22 and Caitlin Garcia ’22 as recipients of the Foundation’s highest student award, the Trustees’ Outstanding Student Award (TOSA). These graduating seniors, who have excelled academically and as student leaders, were honored during a luncheon on May 20 on the Texas A&M University campus.
This award was established through an endowed gift from former Foundation trustee Melbern Glasscock ’59 and his wife, Susanne. The couple wanted to recognize students who have overcome significant personal or family financial challenges to attend Texas A&M and have demonstrated leadership in the classroom and in campus, state or national student organizations. Recipients must have previously received one or more scholarships funded through the Texas A&M Foundation.
Since 2013, 18 Aggies have been recognized. Each recipient receives a cash prize of $2,500 as a boost to their post-graduation life. Lou Paletta ’78, chair of the Foundation’s board of trustees, emphasized the award’s prestige. “The Outstanding Student Award recognizes students who embody Texas A&M’s core values in everything they do,” he said. “We want to reward them for their efforts, and we want them to go out into the world knowing there’s nothing they cannot accomplish.”
Courtney Eeds ’22
Courtney Eeds ’22 was captivated by the stories her grandfather, Tommy Tomlin ’68, shared about Texas A&M. “I remember hearing his stories of his time in the Corps of Cadets and how he is still connected with his buddies. I remember his Aggie Ring, which is huge and still falls off my finger,” she said. “I want to have those types of stories of my time at Texas A&M to tell my own kids and grandkids.”
After the past four years in Aggieland, the native of Whitehouse, Texas, will have plenty of stories to tell. After spending her freshman year focused on her studies and participating in Freshman Leaders in Christ, she asked, “What more can I do?” That led to her decision to march in her grandfather’s bootsteps, join the Corps and become a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band as a sophomore.
As a junior, Eeds served as platoon sergeant for the Corps’ C Company during the height of COVID-19. She’s also served on Texas A&M’s Traditions Council for three years, most recently as internal vice chair, where she’s overseen the Bonfire Remembrance Committee, the Ring Scholarship Committee and Membership Development. “It’s been a huge honor and blessing to be in this position,” she said. “It’s given me a behind-the-scenes perspective of traditions beyond what you get as an Aggie or a member of the Corps of Cadets.”
While she’s been very active in student organizations, Eeds has also worked part-time with the Division of Student Affairs’ University Center & Special Events. That job, along with various scholarships, helped ease the financial pressure on her family, which was already dealing with a family member’s medical issue.
After graduation, Eeds will follow in the footsteps of Tomlin and her parents, all of whom are educators. She has accepted a job as a fifth-grade teacher in Bryan ISD and plans to use part of her TOSA award to set up her classroom, while the rest will go into savings. Moving forward, Eeds is relying on the life lessons she’s learned, especially from the Corps. “Being a part of the Corps has taught me not to be afraid of trying new things or failure,” she said.
Anna Fedewa ’22
Anna Fedewa ’22 always wants to make a difference. As a freshman, she happily found herself on the ground floor of helping a new Aggie organization. “I always tell people that I don’t know how I lucked out, but I came to Texas A&M at the exact perfect time for what I’m passionate about,” she said.
The second-generation Aggie knew she wanted to study special education and quickly found her place. “I visited Texas A&M as a high school senior and came back saying, ‘Yep, this is 100% the place for me. I’m withdrawing all my other applications,’” she recounted. “I felt part of a family and something bigger than myself – and I wanted to feel that for the next four years and forever.”
Fedewa is especially passionate about transition programs for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and was surprised when she opened an email in 2019 announcing that Texas A&M’s College of Education and Human Development was launching the then-new Aggie ACHIEVE program. Fedewa reached out and was selected as a freshman member of the program’s student steering committee.
As a result, the Katy, Texas, native had the opportunity to assist with developing a student-led and student-run organization that offers guidance and mentorship to Aggie ACHIEVE students.
In addition to majoring in special education, Fedewa earned a graduate certificate in nonprofit management with an emphasis in leadership and management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service. She also took part in the Public Policy Internship Program, which led to advocacy work and an internship with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). At the end of that internship, Fedewa accepted a part-time position with NDSS during her junior year at Texas A&M.
After graduation, she’ll join NDSS as its full-time manager of public policy and will use her cash award to relocate to Washington, D.C. “We’re at a time in this country when we need to elevate the education profession,” she said. “This opportunity allows me to connect with this community while addressing the larger issues I’m passionate about. I’m looking forward to working with both policymakers and community members.”
Caitlin Garcia ’22
Growing up in Thorndale, Texas, Caitlin Garcia ’22 enjoyed being part of a small community. Her grandmother and great-grandfather lived nearby, and her high school graduating class had 60 students. Still, she wanted an expanded college experience, but her family didn’t have the financial resources for an out-of-state institution or a private college. Instead, Garcia moved to the bigger world of Texas A&M.
“The population of Thorndale is 2% of my college graduating class,” she said. “College Station and my experience at Texas A&M is another world compared to how I grew up.”
Her early college experience differed from most Aggies. Enticed by the possibility of earning college scholarships, Garcia competed in and won Miss Teen of Texas while in high school. That qualified her for the Miss Teen of America competition which she also won. Because of the latter, she spent a portion of her freshman year at Texas A&M traveling to make guest appearances and give presentations.
Still, the communications major, who also minored in philosophy, quickly found her place in Aggieland. “After four years at Texas A&M, I realize that while the college campus community is big, your world gets small the longer you stay at Texas A&M because of the people you know. It’s a powerful network,” she said. “I quickly fell in love with the people at Texas A&M through Fish Camp and other Memorial Student Center programs.”
Garcia credits Chi Omega Sorority for giving her “the greatest friends and treasured memories.” She also served as a sophomore delegate to the MSC Abbott Family Leadership Conference, which helped her contemplate ethics, morals and values related to leadership, service and family. As a junior, Garcia stepped into the director of development role, where she helped coordinate the Houston Abbott Family Leadership Conference.
She’s also exceptionally proud to have been selected as a Texas A&M Foundation Maroon Coat, a role she’s served in for several years, including as the group’s president. As an ambassador to both former and current students, her role has allowed her to gain a deep appreciation for those who have a heart for service.
Moving forward, Garcia is considering law school but will start her career as a consultant with Deloitte. Ultimately, she wants to move into work that will allow her to focus on her passion: education. “Growing up, I didn’t understand the variety of options that a college education could offer,” said Garcia, who is among the first generation in her family to attend college. “I had no idea what the term ‘political science’ meant or where a business degree could lead you. I want to change that for future high school and middle school students from small, low-income public-school systems.”
Texas A&M Foundation
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aspires to be among the most trusted philanthropies in higher education. It builds a brighter future for Texas A&M University, one relationship at a time. To learn more, visit txamfoundation.com.