Texas A&M University is the sixth-largest university in the United States, and is one of six United States Senior Military Colleges. Its Corps of Cadets is America’s largest uniformed student body outside the service academies. Members of the Corps have served in every U.S. armed conflict since 1876. The Corps is composed of three Air Force Wings, three Army Brigades, two Navy and Marine Regiments, and the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band.
In 1876 Texas A&M opened its door. In 1963, Blacks and women were allowed. In 1964, the first African-Americans joined the corps. Ten years later, the first women cadets began. Now, Marquis Alexander becomes the first military veteran—and the first African American Commander Of Texas A&M Cadets. Texas A&M students, and Black students represent less than four percent of the 40,000 undergraduate students at the campus
Alexander had dreams early on of becoming an Aggie—which refers to the students, graduates, and sports teams of Texas A&M University. “From the first time I set foot on campus in October of 2007, I knew that I wanted to be an Aggie, and a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Cadet Corps.
Alexander, 22, will be a senior when he takes helm. He is majoring in international studies.
Before going to Texas A&M, Alexander served in the Marine Corps.
Alexander grew up in Houston, the oldest of 10 children. After high school he applied for only one university– Texas A&M. In fact, he participated in Texas A&M’s Junior Cadet Accessions Program while still in high school. But when he didn’t receive his acceptance letter, Alexander enlisted in the Marine Corps. But his acceptance letter came soon after. Alexander, however, went on to spend a year and a half on active duty. He later reverted from active duty to the Marine Corps Reserves. Then, in 2009 he reapplied for admission to Texas A&M in 2009.
Now Alexander will assume duties as cadet colonel of the 2,100-member corps. As the organization’s top leader— also known as corps commander — Alexander will also hold one of the three top positions on campus (the other two are that of student body president and yell leader).
“I am extremely honored and humbled at the opportunity of serving the university and giving back to the corps next year as the corps commander. I can only hope that through this position I am able to share with others, what I have been blessed to receive,” says Alexander.
Alexander was selected following a rigorous review process in which a host of cadets are considered when leadership selections are made each year. “After a very thorough selection process, Marquis Alexander was selected from a very talented group of men and women to become the corps commander for school year 2012-2013,” says Gen. Ramirez s Corps Commandant Brig. Gen Joe Ramirez, Jr. (U.S. Army Ret.). “Marquis proved to be the best candidate for this key leadership position, and I feel extremely confident that he will do a superb job of leading our corps next year.”
The boards are made up of Office of the Commandant Staff, Cadets, the three ROTC program heads and Cadet Training Officers (CTO). The Commandant is also on the board, according to Annette Walker, Media Relations Coordinator.
“All positions require an application from the cadet. The initial cut from applications regarding certain criteria that must be met to hold a leadership position, i.e., GPR, passing of a physical fitness test, height-weight requirements, etc. Those qualified are reviewed by the board as to who should be given an interview. Once chosen for an interview, the board interviews all eligible candidates. The board then discusses the interviews and the cadet and culls down the cadets that excelled. The board then again discusses each candidate and another cut is made. Depending on the positions and how many are needed, they choose the ones who did well and then make their final decisions and those cadets are informed of their leadership roles,” explains Walker. “Basically it works like a job interview. Candidates go through the process and those best-suited for the positions are chosen.” And Alexander was the best to command.