Meet Corps Of Cadets Commander Grayson Winchester ’23
Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets Commander Grayson Winchester ’23, a senior in Mays Business School, attended a small high school in Fort Worth where his graduating class had just 12 students.
Today, he’s a student leader at one of the nation’s largest universities, serving as commander of the Corps of Cadets, the largest uniformed student body outside of the military academies. He plans to graduate in May with his bachelor’s in business honors and has already secured employment as a strategy analyst for Deloitte.
Winchester, whose mother and brother are both Aggies – Tara Winchester ’93 and current business major Ford Winchester ’25 – shared with Texas A&M Today how the university helped grow his passion for leadership, his hopes for Corps growth and when he’s felt the most “Aggie.”
What made you decide to become an Aggie?
I fell in love with leadership sophomore year of high school and went to a couple of conferences that were focused on teaching high school students about leadership. This experience challenged me to read books about it and start jumping at more opportunities to lead, whether it was leading a mock trial team or a small group of students at church or school. I was in a small community but there was no shortage of opportunities to practice what I was learning. With my mom being an Aggie, there was no shortage of exposure to A&M either. As I began to explore more of what A&M had to offer, I found the Business Honors Program at Mays. I was attracted to the more team-centered classes and smaller classroom environments that I was familiar with coming from a smaller school. Then I found out about the Corps, a unique four-year leadership development program. There was not a single other college I explored that could offer the kind of experience that both Mays and the Corps have created for my time in college. In fact, it has far exceeded my expectation of what I ever thought I could get out of college. I did think about applying to other schools, but my mom said, “Grayson, you’d regret it for the rest of your life if you didn’t go to A&M.” And she was right, there’s just no place like it and I’m so glad I made this choice.
What are your responsibilities as Corps Commander?
I’m ultimately responsible for all 2,100+ cadets and that starts with setting the vision and the tone for the year. My vision for the Corps this year is that we are a respected organization that cultivates authentic relationships, disciplined habit making and forward thinking. And that statement drives everything we do. It drives the environments we seek to create, the decisions we make, how I run my meetings, how I interact with people. So a lot of my job has been uniting everyone to make sure that we’re all going in the right direction. The Corps is made up of different outfits that have different cultures; some people are going into the Marines, Air Force, Army, the private sector, and the public sector. If there’s no vision from the top that unifies each one of the cadets under into a single direction, it’s easy to land in a million different places. My job is to pull us together, and remind everyone of why we’re here, ensuring we continue to seek our vision and accomplish our mission of developing leaders of character.
Tell us about the ‘March to 3,000.’
The “March to 3,000” is a really exciting campaign that communicates to all cadets past, present and future that the university recognizes the Corps has historically, and continues to, produce quality members of society who take the relationships around them seriously, and who are going into the workplace or the military and making a positive impact. The goal of the campaign is to continue doing what we do, even better, and on a larger scale in the future. As we continue to cultivate an environment that cares about its people, they become soldiers and employees who are focused on the people around them, who know how to work in teams, how to adapt and who have resiliency. Ultimately our programs are producing people who can learn, coach, mentor and inspire. And when you have someone coming out of college who can do all four of those things proficiently, you’re producing world-changers.
What is your leadership philosophy?
Leadership is an art and every artist who leads has their own style and natural tendencies. My philosophy is to get to know the leaders I’m leading so that I know how to interact with them to create the most impactful and productive experience for them and their followers. I love talking with the first-year students, that’s my favorite thing to do because it gives me a good idea of how our morale is. One of my goals this year is to empower leaders on all levels to be agents of change. I believe that accomplishing this goal will create an environment in the Corps where everyone is being developed no matter what position they’re in. As the Corps Commander, I cannot check in on every member each day; however, I can create an environment where everyone feels ownership over checking in on each other, asking them, “How was your class today? How can I help you prepare for your test? Did you know about these resources we have?” I want to be about creating a culture where people are looking out for one another and we’re here to support each other. And after graduation we want them to take that into the world, to create positive environments wherever they go. I’m challenging everyone to pursue excellence, an Aggie core value, every moment of the day.
What’s been your most quintessential Aggie moment?
For me it’s Silver Taps. I come from company K-2 and during Silver Taps we stand on the steps of the Academic Building where we can see so much of the student body stand in silence for the ceremony. I don’t know any other university that on a Tuesday night – when people have tests to study for or responsibilities for their organizations – they take time out to honor fallen students. And I may not know this person, but I care about them because we’re a part of the same family. I brought my dad to Silver Taps last year because I wanted him to experience how much we care for one another. I think more people should come to Silver Taps and hope they do. It’s such a meaningful moment when you’re standing out there, it’s dark and hymns are playing from the bell tower; it’s so moving. And it’s also a great time to take a step back and reflect on how much there is to be thankful for, how short life is. And if you’re not a cadet, you may not know, but when we return to the Quad, you see outfits that are formed up in a circle. And you see the chaplain saying a prayer over the outfit and the outfit commander stand up in front of everyone and say, “I’m here for you. I’m here to support you. We are a family first. I have an open door and I’m the first one who’s got your back.” To me, that’s what being an Aggie is all about.