Honors Students do so much more than just study and go to class. We encourage our students to find ways to weave together what they’re passionate about with what they do, and the post below from sophomore mechanical engineering major Charles Arnold does an excellent job of illustrating how that can work out. When he’s not cycling or studying, Charlie may be found in the Honors Housing Community where he is serving this year as a Sophomore Advisor.
By Charlie Arnold ’19
I came to Texas A&M from a distant land known as “Kansas” for a quality education in engineering and affordable out of state tuition, but I also found some good times with the cycling team along the way. My first year was stressful with a new workload and new responsibilities, but I was always able to make time for cycling and doing the thing I love. When officer elections for the cycling team rolled around in the spring I instantly wanted to help the team and be involved. I became the vice president of road cycling and was determined to help the team, but before I could help the team I spent a summer helping provide affordable housing.
In my summer between freshman year and sophomore year I was taking classes, working a part time job, and raising money and volunteering for Bike and Build. Bike and Build is a non-profit that empowers young people to bike across the country raising awareness and volunteering for affordable housing. After I raised $2,500, finished the required 10 hours of volunteer work and my summer school, I drove to Oregon to start my Bike and Build trip. I rode 900 miles with twenty other participants through Oregon and Washington building at an affordable housing site every third day. I was able to see mountains, rivers, and sights that gave me shivers, but I also saw economic inequality, angry people in cars who hate cyclist, and good people doing great work for communities in Washington. Once our trip reached Seattle I was on a plane to College Station and started working on a new school year.
Once I was back at Texas A&M, I was able to resume my work with the cycling team. I created a video of the team to be entered into the Camelbak Collegiate Grant, and to our amazement our video won. We were selected with 4 other teams (One being UT-Austin, like what a coincidence?) to receive a $5,000 grant for the team as well as a trip to California for 2 team members to visit Camelbak HQ and receive the grant. The videographer Ryan Stankard and I were chosen to go to California. We left Monday November 7th and came back Wednesday November 9th. We had to miss school but with the permission of our professors and lots of studying on the plane it was well worth it.
While we were there we went for a ride in the beautiful hills of Petaluma, California with pro cyclist Andrew Talanski. Then we presented our video to Camelbak and the other winners, had a lesson on how to sell yourself from the hiring manager at Camelbak, had a photoshoot and interviews, talked with the Research and Development branch to see how their products are made, and finally took a tour of their lab (my favorite part, I’m a mechanical engineering nerd). I was extremely grateful to the team for letting me go on this trip and to my teachers for letting me take time away from class. #gotyourbak
My current projects include planning a joint training camp between Texas A&M cycling and UT cycling and creating a solar kit and shelter for use in rural Burkina Faso in West Africa for an “Engineers in Community Service” class. So yes, college is difficult and especially so with my additional responsibilities for the Honors program, but I still always find time for cycling, volunteering, and the things I love.
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