COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Black History Month allows people like students at Texas A&M to reflect on stories from the past that have shaped who they are and what it means to be a part of a diverse university today.
The traditions at A&M were all foreign for Ronnie McDonald '93, but he became a part of one of its most respected, a yell leader.
McDonald ran for the position in 1991 but when he was elected, he made it his mission to help unify the university.
”At Texas A&M we learned how to build bridges and unite people," said Ronnie McDonald, the first African American yell leader. "We learned how to go across those barriers so we had people from all races that would come together and support us to allow us to be in a leadership position in a community that is not majority me.”
Learning the foundation of those traditions in a leadership role did not come without its share of obstacles.
“That position doesn’t define me," added McDonald. "But I have an opportunity of defining that position, so when I'm going through the points when people are saying you’re the worst yell leader, you shouldn’t be here all those different things,”
McDonald stayed true to his mission of uniting Aggies. He believes the lessons learned still help him to this day.
“When I ran for yell leader it was always that theme of unifying people from many different backgrounds to have a great experience and it’s one that I’ve taken in life,” shared McDonald.
Memo Salinas was the first Hispanic head yell leader at A&M and believes that mission still holds the same weight today.
”We do our best to embody our core values be a model Aggie to everyone around us and spread the Aggie spirit that unites all of us,” said Memo Salinas, Texas A&M first Hispanic Head yell leader.
McDonald said his experience as yell leader prepared him to continue leading his community becoming the youngest and first African American judge in his hometown in Bastrop county.