This uniform and the traditions that come with it are probably familiar. But when you think of Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets, you probably don't think of Aditi Gupta.
Or at least you didn't before.
"I was born and brought up in New Dehli, India," she recalls. "That's the capital. I spent seventeen-and-a-half years over there, stayed in the same school my entire life. My mother's a teacher. My dad's an engineer."
Hers is the typical family, American, Indian or otherwise. But the journey Gupta went on is anything but typical. She obviously made it to the classrooms of A&M. Her brother also came to school in the US, and encouraged her to look at America as an education option. So she found the Aggies, and one of their traditions.
"I went to the website and if you notice, on the main page, they show random pictures," Gupta said. "One of them turned out to be that of the Corps. I clicked on it, followed to see what it was. I've always had a great respect for the military."
"When I applied to A&M, I didn't know that A&M had such a rich heritage, and all about the traditions," Gupta said, recalling one time in particular where she was talking to her family.
"I had to explain to them what Midnight Yell is," she remembers. "That was really surprising. They were like, 'So, OK, you go the field at midnight and you yell?' It took me a while to explain what that is."
Now having risen through the ranks, Gupta leads by example.
"Being in a leadership position, you're expected to be perfect, or as close to perfect as possible all the time," she said. "Underclassmen are seeing you all the time. You're indirectly training them."
It's the internal evolution of the Corps. But there's an image that's evolving as well, that of an organization meant for white males.
"I think that perception is clearly outdated," she said. "I know A&M started off as an all-male, white male military school. But women have been in the Corps for over 30 years. Not just women, but people of all backgrounds have been here.
"People still have the mindset that if you're from a different background, you might not join the Corps. People need to know this option is available to them, and not just for those people. We need to spread the word that others know that the Corps is for everyone."
Gupta credits the Corps and her experience for making her a stronger, more confident person.
"In India, you wouldn't try to converse with any person sitting right next to you," she said. "Being in the Corps, that's given me lots of confidence, leadership skills, lots more discipline, and I know I've learned something and I can share it with the new cadets that join the Corps."
And she holds a great deal of pride in the uniform she wears and what it symbolizes.
"The rank tells me that I've been through a lot. I've done what's required to earn this. The Corps brass, the day I earned it was probably the best in my two-and-a-half years at A&M. So it just means you've made it through everything you've gone through, the worst days, the good days. Being there with your buddies, contributing to the Corps, the university, maybe to the country."
You can find out more about Aditi Gupta at the official Corps of Cadets website.
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