Alumni Divided

These dual UT and A&M grads remind us that the state’s longtime rival schools are all in the same Texas family.

A second-generation Aggie, Wade Sims grew up 50 miles from College Station, attending Aggie football games and learning the yells. The mere mention of an undergraduate application to UT angered his dad.

After transferring to A&M from a junior college, where he played baseball for two years, Sims didn’t even need to attend the transfer student Fish Camp (where new students are indoctrinated into Aggie culture) because he was already so well-versed in the traditions.

But when it came time for graduate school, Sims decided on UT.

“I spent a lot of time in Austin while at A&M and I loved the city, people, and atmosphere,” Sims says. “I just had good experiences there.”

“UT is a good education. Plus, it’s better to mix up your degrees,” he added.

Wait, what?

Someone so devoted to Aggieland as to render Fish Camp obsolete goes to UT because of a positive association with the city of Austin and the pragmatics of a varied education?

But even Sims’ dad was proud of his son’s choice.

Rob Crawley has a similar story.

Originally from Denison, Texas, Crawley grew up wearing burnt orange, brainwashed from a young age.

“I was about as Longhorn as you can get,” he says.

Crawley, who walked on to the Longhorn football team, graduated with a degree in economics in 2006. Sometime after graduation, and a little late in the application process, he decided that he also wanted an MBA.

So back to Longhorn Land for round two, right? Or…not.

“Basically, I knew A&M had a good business school, and I got in after the application deadline. A&M just had a spot for me.”

Although he says that his father, a Texas Exes Life Member, got more flack for his decision than he did, Crawley admitted that A&M orientation was a weird experience.

“Being at Kyle Field, I thought, ‘I’m supposed to call this place home for the next few months?’” Crawley recalls.

Crawley, who works for an oil and gas company in Houston, says that the networks from both schools have contributed to where he is today. And despite the notorious clash between burnt orange and maroon, perhaps the differences are less pronounced than we thought.

“When you get down to the core of both schools, they’re very similar,” Crawley says. “People care about the same things, have pride in the same things.”

That’s not to say that the two universities are similar in all respects. Of course there are big differences.

Austin’s big-city bustle and College Station’s small-town calm stand in stark contrast, as anybody who has visited both will attest.

The campus cultures can also feel vastly different.

“A&M is all about tradition, linked by their own hand signals and sounds, whereas UT is more relaxed and loose,” says Mary Kay Hyde.

Hyde, who worked as a TA while earning her master’s at A&M, recalls the crazy reactions she got from students once they discovered her alma mater (reactions that were countered with a reminder that as TA, she controlled their grades).

Beverly Hamilton, now an Academic Affairs Specialist at DeVry University in Austin, says she still gets some puzzled faces when people see her two framed diplomas hanging side by side on the wall.

“Now that I’m an administrator, I can see that the schools are a lot more similar than I thought they were.”

A sort of sibling rivalry, perpetuated by personality differences, will always exist between A&M and UT. But when it comes down to it, both schools offer a quality education and a community filled with tradition and pride. And of course their most unifying feature: the strong family name of Texas.

 Top: Wade Sims (right) with a Longhorn buddy. Middle: Beverly Hamilton. Below: Mary Kay Hyde.


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