BUILDing ON TRADITION
By Austin Dunson '16 | Vol. 2 Issue 2
Each student comes to Aggieland with a unique story to be etched into Texas A&M’s historic legacy. It is a legacy steeped in tradition, passed down through generations of Aggies, all unified by "The Spirit can ne’er be told." The Aggie Spirit can be seen from the history of Aggie Bonfire to the now 1,000+ student organizations on campus. One student organization, BUILD, is striving to bring Aggies together to further embody that Spirit with a large-scale service project to help people in need.
"We want to see the student body united," said Cal Johnson '16, marketing major and current BUILD CEO. "This is a way to have a hands-on role for the benefit of other people."
For its inaugural project, with the help of Habitat for Humanity, BUILD constructed a home for a local family. Now partnered with Medical Bridges, a non-profit organization based in Houston devoted to supplying adequate medical care for people in need, BUILD has moved into a new phase of service, building medical units out of storage containers. Each container houses a triage room for immediate medical attention, an exam room, a laboratory and an operating room.
This past fall, the BUILD staff and nearly 1,000 student volunteers built and furbished four fully functioning medical units to be sent to Haiti, Honduras and Guatemala. Johnson explained that with the closest hospital being 100 miles away in some cases, a unit could be utilized by up to 20,000–30,000 people.
“It’s remarkable, being that the units are so small, but it’s basically a hospital,” said Johnson. “Each unit provides basic medical care from checkups and immunizations to healing broken bones; they are continuously supplied with everything from bandages to tetanus shots.”
The heart of BUILD comes from the history of Aggie Bonfire. As the tradition went, students came together each year to build a colossal bonfire, unifying the student body on campus before the annual football game against the University of Texas. In 1999, the bonfire tragically collapsed during construction, taking the lives of twelve students. Today, former and current students remember the fallen Aggies by visiting Bonfire Memorial and honoring them through unity and service to the greater good.
After great success with the first four units and growing support from the Aggie community, BUILD leadership plans to continue their efforts by building and sending units to eight more areas of need, totaling twelve units, each honoring one victim of the 1999 Aggie Bonfire collapse. Ultimately, their goal is to complete up to twenty to thirty more units.
“We want to carry the same Spirit those twelve Aggies had on the stack that night by engaging our local Aggie community to help change our global community,” Johnson said.
BUILD has members from many different majors with many different skill sets, from future engineers to English teachers. The diversity within the group is what makes it strong. While some students focus on the construction, others may help with promotion, project coordination, fundraising, etc. What connects all of them, though, is a commitment to unity, service and involvement.
Texas A&M fosters opportunities for students to not only get involved, but also to make a great difference with their involvement, and the Aggies in BUILD continue to do just that. Follow the team’s progress and learn more about BUILD at buildtamu.com.