A Season of Thankfulness and Gratitude

taw-thanksgiving-picTAYLOR COOPER

I am thankful for my family, friends, and my teammates.  I am thankful for my family because they have always been my support system and I don’t know what I would do without them. I am thankful for my friends and my teammates because they provide me with endless laughs and memories that I will have for a lifetime.

Taylor’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: My favorite childhood memory was when all of my family would come over or come down to my house to be together for an evening. My grandma’s stuffing is my favorite along with her famous cranberry sauce on the side.

KHAALIA HILLSMAN

I am thankful for my family and the opportunity to do what I love (play basketball) because they have helped shape who I am as a person. As far as Basketball, it has opened up so many opportunities that I never would have imagined I could have.

Khaalia’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: One memory from my childhood is sitting on my grandma’s lap while I was waiting for the candied yams to get out the oven (even though nothing else was ready) so I could get a taste before they were gone.

ANRIEL HOWARD

I am most thankful for having an almighty God that died on the cross for my sins. I am thankful for all the opportunities that I have been blessed with from my God. I am thankful to have a family in my life that cares dearly about me. I am thankful for my mom, nana, papa, brothers, and extended family for the unconditional love that they have for me. I am thankful to have a relationship with friends and teammates that can push me to be the best that I can be. I am blessed to have an unbreakable bond with my boyfriend that only we can understand. I am blessed for the adults, coaches, and mentors in my life that are guiding me through my life and continuing to believe in me. I am thankful for a plethora of things that I can continue to list for about ten more pages. I am thankful for all of the above because I realized pretty early in my life that I am pretty darn blessed. Its people in this world that wish and dream for all of this and I never want to take any of it for granted because it can be easily taken away from me.

Anriel’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: A childhood memory and tradition for Thanksgiving in my family is that every year when my family meets up for this holiday, we circle up and individually state what we are thankful for. This happens before we pray over our wonderful Thanksgiving meal.

AAHLIYAH JACKSON

Something I’m very thankful for is my family, for supporting me and believing in every little thing I do. I’m thankful to have two great parents in my life that treat me with tough love. Not everyone gets the opportunity to become an Aggie, and I was that one that got the opportunity to be one and play the game I love!

Aahliyah’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: One memory from my childhood is being able to stay up late and help my mom prepare the meal for Thanksgiving dinner. And of course when you’re the helper, you get to be the test taster too.

CURTYCE KNOX

I am most thankful for my beautiful daughter Haven. She has changed my life tremendously ! Having a child has changed my perspective on life and I now see the world in a different way…leaving a practice at Reed so I can come home just to see her bubbly face light up when I walk through the door. There is no better feeling & I am beyond grateful to call her my child.

Curtyce’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: One childhood memory is years ago on Thanksgiving having the opportunity to spend this special day with all of my family and close friends and just being able to enjoy one another’s company while having a great thanksgiving meal.

JASMINE LUMPKIN

I am most thankful for my family and the support they give me on a daily basis. It’s great to have a loving family and I don’t know what I would do without them. I am also thankful for basketball and all the opportunities that it has blessed me with like playing at a great institution like Texas A&M where I can get my education for free, and play the game I love. I’m thankful for all the people in my life from my friends, family, coaches, teammates, and God — all helped me become the person I am today. And I cannot thank them enough.

Jasmine’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: One childhood thanksgiving memory I remember is gathering at my grandma’s house with my entire family, and playing with my cousins. It was one big feast and you could smell the food being cooked from a mile away.

CAYLINNE MARTIN

I am most thankful for my family, because even though my parents are not together anymore, they both make an effort to make sure I spend time with both sides of the family each holiday, especially Thanksgiving.

Caylinne’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: One of my favorite memories was going back to my hometown of Port Arthur last year and just being in the city and seeing and spending time with my grandma and grandpa because I don’t see them often as well as seeing how much the city has improved since I last visited.

ALYSSA MICHALKE

I’m most thankful for my family and their role in developing me into the person I am today. My family has always been my biggest fans, but also my biggest critics. They were the first ones to tell me I played a great game or did a great job on a task they had assigned, but they were also the first ones to show me the errors I made and suggest  improvements so I could perform even better next time. My parents did an excellent job at instilling a hard work ethic, respect, dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence in me, and while I usually had to learn those lessons with tough love from them, I’m so thankful they took the time to develop these qualities within me. My family is the foundation beneath all my successes in life, and I couldn’t be more thankful for their commitment to raising me correctly.

Alyssa’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: My favorite memories surrounding Thanksgiving always involved the family sports competition. After Thanksgiving lunch (and a nice nap, of course), we would all head outside to play football or softball. We always ended up playing in one of the large pastures on my grandparent’s farm, using trees and fence posts for end zones and foul lines. There was always a friendly, but competitive, atmosphere surrounding the game, as the losers had to do the dishes. After the game was over, we would all head back inside to play dominoes or sit around the wood stove and talk about small town politics and gossip. Those memories are ones that I will hold and cherish forever.

RAKELL SPENCER

I am thankful for my health because it’s a blessing to be healthy and some people take that for granted. When I see other people who are sickly or disabled it makes me realize that my problems aren’t that big.

Rakell’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: My favorite childhood memory for Thanksgiving is when my grandmother would let me help her cook.

DANNI WILLIAMS

I am most thankful to serve a God who sent His one and only son to die on the cross for our sins which gives us eternal life. With that, God has provided me with the most incredible family. I am thankful for that because without God doing what He did, I wouldn’t have my family, and my family means the absolute world to me. I can’t even explain the relationship we all share together, it’s unbreakable.

Danni’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: One of my favorite childhood memories is just having all of my family members join me at our house  and share Thanksgiving together. Being able to spend valuable time together doesn’t come easy when people live in different states. Also, my grandma’s turkey pot pie.

JASMINE WILLIAMS

I am most thankful for my freedom and the ability to wake up every morning knowing I have a life someone else would love to have.  Because I am aware of the injustice that takes place and with the amount of exposure that I have on this level, I know that vulnerability is inevitable. And with that we have to be very careful and thankful for every day lived.

Jasmine’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: Thanksgiving was always shared as a family with either my moms side or my dads side. We always sat outside the house because of the stench of the chitlins being cooked inside the house. And it was always the Cowboys game afterwards followed by video games and naps thereafter.

WALNATIA WRIGHT

I’m thankful that God wakes me up everyday for without that blessing I wouldn’t be here at Texas A&M.

Walnatia’s Favorite Childhood Thanksgiving Memory: My favorite Thanksgiving childhood memory was when my grandmother was alive — enjoying her Thanksgiving food and we were all packed inside the house.

 

Chasing My Two Dreams

jennings-header3By Chelsea Jennings

As a kid, I was always told to dream big and that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to.

In high school, I held myself to a high standard on and off the court. I never wanted to be considered a dumb athlete. That is what ultimately pushed me throughout high school, where I would graduate cum laude in my 2012 class at North Crowley High School, Fort Worth, Texas.  Coming to Texas A&M, I knew I wanted to take full advantage of all the opportunities of being a student-athlete. I challenged myself to pursue one of the hardest degrees at Texas A&M. I chose Architecture because I have a passion for drawing and design. I remember going into an academic meeting with people questioning my decision and my ability to balance my architectural degree and basketball. My freshmen year I was enrolled into independent studies, which is an undeclared degree plan. I had to prove to the Architecture Department that I could maintain a standard GPA of  3.2 as a student-athlete. The department was hesitant about letting a student-athlete into their program because they knew how demanding this degree could be. As a freshman student-athlete, this was a bit of a challenge but I accomplished it. This undertaking set me back an entire year, but I was determined to show everyone that I could do it.

When I was finally enrolled in Architecture my sophomore season, it was a rude awakening for me. Attempting to balance basketball, architecture, and my personal life almost seemed impossible at the time. During preseason I would literally stay up until 4 in the morning, working on projects and then have to wake up at 5:30am for 6am workouts. I was not getting much sleep and was completely exhausted. This lead to poor performances and not being able to produce how I wanted on the court. I became very overwhelmed and stressed out. At this point in my life, I had never faced anything of this level of difficulty. I began to doubt my decision; I was struggling on the court and off the court. I wasn’t producing on the court and it lingered into my academic success as well. Many times after games where I played not a single second, I would go home and cry wondering why I choose this route. Coming out of high school, I was ranked among the top 50 in the country and highly recruited yet now I was not playing. I truly felt like it was impossible to be the best basketball player I wanted to be while trying to be the best student I could be. I felt like a complete failure and I didn’t know what to do about it. It seemed the best decision might be to transfer and get a fresh start at a new college. I have never been a quitter but it seemed like that was the most logical situation for me at the time. As a Christian believer, I prayed about my situation and I knew he would deliver an answer.  It wasn’t till right before my junior season started that I decided I wanted to continue my career here at Texas A&M. I knew I had to finish what I started.

image3Going into to my junior year I felt like a new person. I was confident and I was stronger. It was amazing seeing how that confidence carried over  to the court and into the classroom. It seemed like everything started turning around for the better. I was producing more on the court and I was enjoying my academic successes. Of course, I had my struggles throughout the course of  the year but I was more equipped to handle these situations. I started to believe in myself again with the help of God, family, teammates, and coaches. I truly and honestly would not have been successful, were it not for them. My junior year was the turning point of my career here at Texas A&M.

cj-001My senior season all the pieces started coming together for me. I realized I had been making excuses my past three years here. I was so worried about all the wrong things. I was so eager to prove that I was better than the person next to me. I lost focus on what I was originally trying to accomplish. I learned that I needed to compete with myself, by challenging myself to get better each day — in school, basketball, or most importantly, getting more in tune with God. My ultimate goal was not just to be the best basketball player I could be but to be the best person I could be. I began to set goals for myself to reach, instead of complaining about my past failures. I attacked my senior year with a Godly purpose. My senior season resulted in me getting 6th women of the year in the SEC. I will be graduating in December  — the first female African American athlete to graduate with a degree in the college of Architecture at Texas A&M University. I have also started a brand called LWP. Which means Live With Purpose. This brand is a true testimony of my college career here at Texas A&M. I was defeated before I even got started because I did not understand my purpose due to continuous failures. Living a life with no purpose is like being in a maze with no end. The moment I started living life with a purpose was when my life and career began to change.

I realized through my journey here at Texas A&M that direction is far more important than speed. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. At the time I didn’t realize why I went through all of these obstacles, but now I believe it was meant to be a testimony to others. To show if you are patient, stay the course, and have faith, you can accomplish anything and everything that people thought you could never do.  This new mindset has shaped and helped me become the person I am today.