COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Youth camps and programs at Texas A&M aim to bring the community together showing kids and students what post-secondary options are available to them.
Youth engagement is just one of the ways Texas A&M focuses on children and families in the community, and for some, paves the way to become future Aggies.
During her junior year of high school, Elle Suerrman — a freshman at Texas A&M — attended the college of architecture’s youth camp.
“My dad had told me about the Camp Arch," Suerrman said, "and I was really excited about it because even though I didn’t end up going into visualization, I still really enjoyed the college and I like to see the events they put on."
Staying local and connections made at camp were key factors in Suerrman’s decision to attend A&M.
“We got the opportunity to do a Zoom with one of the ... character designers for like Frozen II — and he designed other characters for Disney movies,” Suerrman said.
Elle’s dad, Dr. Patrick Suerrman, is interim dean of the School of Architecture.
He said when Elle attended Camp Arch in 2020, a time when Zoom was the only option of meeting, A&M’s community outreach efforts shined through.
“Everybody was just really creative which I think is a hallmark of A&M and especially of the School of Architecture — and they sent out packs ahead of time to students so that they could still feel like they were part of A&M and they had a lot of hands on, tactical projects that they did at home,” her father said.
He said the skills Elle learned in youth camp are relevant in her current degree.
“She still uses some of the skills that she learned in that camp during her studies here at A&M,” he said. “It was really part of the transformational education to be sure she loved it.”
Stephanie Burns, director for the Office of Youth Engagement, said youth-related activities serve as a door to college opportunities, whether students attend A&M or not.
“Texas A&M really wants to be a place that families see as a resource to help their students figure out their post-secondary path," Burns said. "Not every student is going to want to go to college, but we want that to be an intentional choice that students and families make — and the more you engage with Texas A&M, I think the more you can learn what that process looks like for you and your child."
Elle Suerrman also attended another youth camp before attending A&M's Spend the Night with the Corps.
“That helped me solidify my choice to go into the Corps of Cadets,” she said. “It showed me what it means to actually be a Cadet and what their daily on-goings kind of look like, so that was really impactful.”
“When a student like Elle comes to Camp Arch, she also learns what the process to apply to Texas A&M and make sure that I’m still on the path," Burns said, "and whether you’re five or 15, when you walk away from an engagement with A&M, we want you to be really clear about what you can do today to make sure you can achieve your career or college dreams.”
The Office of Youth Engagement will continue to serve as a community hub to help generations to come decide their next steps in their career.