Campus Life

Foundation Board Of Trustees Recognizes Three Outstanding Graduates

Three high-achieving students have been recognized by the Texas A&M Foundation and received a monetary award for their excellence.
By Ryan Williamson, Texas A&M Foundation May 10, 2024

(l-r): Alejandra Moreno ’24, Ben Crespo ’24 and Maria Hall ’23
Alejandra Moreno ’24, Ben Crespo ’24 and Maria Hall ’23

Texas A&M Foundation


The Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees recognized Ben Crespo ’24, Maria Hall ’23 and Alejandra Moreno ’24 as the recipients of the 2024 Trustees’ Outstanding Student Award during a luncheon on May 10. The award, which includes a prize of $3,000, recognizes Texas A&M University graduating seniors who have excelled academically and as student leaders despite significant financial or personal challenges.

“Honoring students like Ben, Maria and Alejandra is always a personal honor for the Board of Trustees,” said Gina Luna ’95, chair of the Foundation’s board. “These individuals are shining examples of what it means to be an Aggie, and we are proud to recognize and reward them for not only what they’ve done but who they are: true leaders of remarkable character.”

Former Foundation trustee Melbern Glasscock ’59 and his wife, Susanne, established the award in 2012 to recognize high-achieving students and give them a financial head start post-graduation. Recipients must have demonstrated financial need, received one or more scholarships funded through the Texas A&M Foundation and displayed outstanding extracurricular involvement.

“These students are an embodiment of fearless leadership, tireless effort and selfless service,” said Tyson Voelkel ’96, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We hope this award will encourage them to continue striving for excellence in all future endeavors, keeping that same Aggie Spirit at the core of everything they do. It’s evident that their perseverance and ambition will go on to serve the betterment of our state, nation and world, and we look forward to seeing them succeed.”

Ben Crespo ’24

After watching his older brother find community in the Corps of Cadets, Ben Crespo ’24 knew he wanted to join a military-style organization. When he participated in the Spend the Night With the Corps program his senior year of high school, he knew he’d found his home and was set on making a difference at Texas A&M.

Four years later, the senior from Plano, Texas, recently completed his term as executive officer of Company A-2, serving as second-in-command of his 41-cadet company. “In a way, the Corps is a crash course in leadership,” Crespo said. “It taught me to develop others while making them feel loved and appreciated.”

While leading his company, Crespo delved into on-campus research, studying growth factor receptors in colorectal cancer under Dr. David Threadgill ’83 ’89 and spending a summer researching at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Enticed by the possibility of creating a difference while making new discoveries, he plans to pursue a career in pediatric oncology.

The biomedical sciences major said his career trajectory is inspired by his own medical struggles. In middle school, Crespo began experiencing symptoms related to an unknown illness. It wasn’t until his sophomore year of college that he was diagnosed and treated for eustachian tube dysfunction—a middle-ear disorder—and eye and visual conditions called meibomian gland dysfunction and visuospatial deficit. These conditions required surgery, eye drops, vision therapy and therapeutic glasses. As he experienced isolation and doubt due to his illness, his brother served as a listening ear and provided much-needed empathy.

“One night I shared all my doubts and worries with him, and he simply listened and encouraged me,” Crespo shared. “That was so healing for me, and I realized I wanted to do that for others. I want to walk beside them, listen and encourage them.”

After using his award money to pay for the remaining cost of his undergraduate degree, Crespo intends to earn his master’s in medical sciences and ultimately attend Texas A&M’s School of Medicine. For him, receiving the Trustees’ Outstanding Student Award is an honor and a call to live out the university’s core values.

“I know how many outstanding students there are at Texas A&M,” Crespo emphasized. “The trustees have entrusted me to represent the university well, so I plan to do that and always put others before myself.”

Maria Hall ’23

 Maria Hall ’23 credits much of her journey at Texas A&M to a pivotal day when she was 11. Her father, who had just received his pilot license, took her as his first passenger for a flight over Arizona. Feeling the thrill of taking off, she realized a new life goal: serving as a pilot in the United States Air Force.

After graduating from Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas, and receiving an Air Force ROTC scholarship, Hall felt one step closer to achieving this dream until she faced a financial barrier during her first semester in Aggieland. As one of six children, including one sibling with a significant medical condition, Hall knew her parents could not financially contribute to her education. And while the ROTC scholarship covered tuition, it did not cover room and board. “I was terrified at the end of that semester because I loved being here,” Hall said, “but I had no idea how I would afford it.”

Hall took matters into her own hands, calling and emailing almost every Texas state representative to request a nomination for the Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program. Eventually, she received a nomination from the Office of the Governor, allowing her to put her financial worries behind her. “Since then, I have tried to make the most of my experience and join every organization I could,” Hall shared.

Diving into the Corps of Cadets, she was involved in Squadron 23, Parsons Mounted Cavalry and the Corps Women’s Soccer team. In addition to her Corps involvement, she co-founded the Texas A&M Women in Aviation organization along with her classmate, Emily Smith ’21. Beginning with a group of six members her freshman year, Hall has watched the organization grow to 50 members as it provides a network and resources to aspiring pilots.

Upon graduation, Hall will move to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, as one of 38 Air Force ROTC cadets selected nationwide for the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. She hopes to one day fly an F-35 aircraft as a fighter pilot and plans to use her award money for housing at the base.

“I feel so honored and humbled to be selected for this award,” she said. “I look back at all the successes and failures I’ve had over the years, and I feel overwhelmed with support and gratitude as I step into my dream.”

Alejandra Moreno ’24

For Alejandra Moreno ’24, it’s impossible to separate family from her Aggie story. Growing up in College Station, Moreno recalls first feeling drawn to the university as a child as she listened intently to her mother, who worked on the campus’s custodial staff, tell humorous stories of student life.

After years of listening to these stories, Moreno decided she wanted to create her own by becoming the first Aggie in her family. The daughter of two hardworking immigrants, she encountered unique challenges as a first-generation college student. “It broke my parents’ hearts knowing they couldn’t help me in the ways they wanted to,” she shared, “but they supported me in every way they knew how.” Moreno worked more than 50 hours a week during the summers to support herself financially while making phone calls to learn the process of applying to scholarships and nursing school.

As a student, she quickly made her mark, diving into leadership roles with the Mexican Student Association, Hispanic Presidents’ Council, Ballet Folklórico Celestial, The Big Event and ComUnidad. She feels her greatest impact on campus has been creating events that allowed other students to experience cultural traditions alongside Aggie traditions, the most meaningful being a Día de los Muertos celebration for more than 100 students.

Moreno emphasized that earning a spot in Texas A&M’s School of Nursing was pivotal in her collegiate journey. “I was so excited I couldn’t stop screaming,” she said. “My parents and I were so happy.” After immersing herself in the school’s extracurriculars, like the Big Health Event, Student Nurses’ Association and the Sigma Theta Tau honor society, Moreno recently accepted a graduate nursing residency at St. Joseph Health’s emergency department in College Station. In the future, she hopes to earn her family nurse practitioner license and work in women’s health or emergency care.

Moreno will use her award money to visit family in Mexico this summer. “It’s been more than five years since I visited,” she said. “My younger cousins call and text me all the time, so I can’t wait to tell them I am finally planning a trip to see them. Sharing my college experience firsthand with them will be incredibly special.”

Learn more about the Texas A&M Foundation at

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