The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Seaver reflects on negatives and positives of time in the Corps
By Meredith Seaver
My college career has been anything but standard. I proudly wear my Aggie ring with a 17 engraved in it, and I am still planning and praying that I will make it to my intended graduation date of May 2020. The same thing could be said about my nearly four years in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. Yes, I did leave the Corps just before the end of my senior year. No, it was not my choice.
When I introduce myself to people, the fact that I was a cadet isn’t one of the first things I mention. I don’t hide it, but it’s just not relevant. When people find out that I was in the Corps, I am usually met with wide eyes and disbelief. I was taking photos for a story and some jargon slipped when I told them to stand at parade rest. The cadets were stunned. When people ask me about my time as a cadet, I reflect on it happily, although it was bittersweet.
My time in the Corps was cut short, bringing about the large gray area I see when reflecting on whether my experience was positive or negative.
On my first day as “fish Seaver,” I was put into a room labeled “fallout hole” and was surrounded by 20 strangers. A cadet who we would later find out was our first sergeant entered the room and told that the upcoming day would be difficult. He also brought up one of the popular Corps sayings: “Your buddies will marry you and bury you,” ultimately meaning that these strangers were going to become my lifelong best friends. Come senior year, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The unfortunate thing about being a female in the Corps is that — shocker — there aren’t that many. I was only halfway through my freshman year when I had to move to a different floor with another outfit because we were the odd females and they wanted to make room for a set of upperclassmen to move back into the dorms. As a freshman, you are still trying to prove yourself and become a member of your outfit, and the last thing you should add to that situation is separating someone from their buddy class. Unfortunately, I was constantly in this situation of not living with my buddies up until my senior year.
The light at the end of the dorm-shuffle tunnel was that even though I didn’t find lifelong friendship in my own outfit, I miraculously managed to find it elsewhere. During sophomore year my best friend, a member of Squadron 17, introduced me to his buddies, and from that point on they welcomed me with open arms. They would let me hang out with them when I was left behind by my buddies or just sitting alone in the dorm. On my 21st birthday, they surprised me and celebrated my birthday with me even though I had no plans to do so. These are the memories that I hold on to the most.
Not only did they let me into their hallway, but at one point during junior year I met with their entire fish class to make sure they were doing alright. They couldn’t believe they had met an upperclassman that was kind and openly showed an emotion other than anger. Whenever I saw one of my friends, I thought, “These are the people that my first sergeant was describing my freshman year.” I don’t look too poorly on my dorm experience because without it, I wouldn’t have met the men of Challenger 17.
Most of my negative views of the Corps come from the circumstances that I was thrust into just months shy of my senior year’s Final Review. Second semester of senior year life came to a grinding halt when my buddies served me with papers asking me to leave the Corps.
The Cadet Performance Review Board was one of the most intimidating situations I have ever been in. Just typing about it and recalling it is making my eyes well with tears. Hearing that the members of my outfit testified against me broke my heart. There were only a couple months left of the Corps, and I would not be able to walk at Final Review with my best friends in the boots that I had worked so hard to earn.
One of the main things that was discussed was my health problems and how I was not able to perform the duties and maintain standards of the Corps of Cadets. I did my best to explain my health circumstances, which are also why it has taken me much longer to graduate, but I had passed the point of no return.
The worst part was having the Corps commander, someone that I considered a close friend, deliver the news that I would not be returning. I do not hold anything against her as she was doing her job, but I just felt awful. But one thing she did tell me was that I had great friends that wrote letters of recommendation for me and had incredible words to say about me.
There was a stack of letters the men of Squadron 17 had written on my behalf. To this day, I have no idea what was written in their letters. All I know is that they made an impact on the Corps commander enough for her to mention them to me. Even in my darkest times when I felt alone, they were there in writing and in-person.
Just recently, I found myself trying to explain how I feel about the Corps to a friend of mine. After apologizing for my lack of words, I believe I figured it out. If I had not gone through the previous years of leadership training and growing as a person, I would not have it in me to look positively on the Corps of Cadets. Even though I was removed, I did benefit from the organization for over three years.
To this day, I still set my silverware down on the plate and put my napkins in my lap. I will always make a hospital corner when I make my bed. I can still tell you what the inscription on Sully is. And my senior boots still sit in the corner of my bedroom, collecting dust.
No matter what, I will always hold onto the memories — good, bad and ugly.
Meredith Seaver is a meteorology senior and assistant photo chief for The Battalion.