Talk to Matt Ockwood for just a few seconds. You'll find his work ethic unstoppable, his efforts unrivaled, and his aspirations very bullish.
"I knew that I wanted to be where the action was," he said. "I wanted to walk and talk fast and feel important and be a part of the deal, whatever the deal is."
When he's done at A&M, Ockwood's off to Wall Street to become an investment banking analyst. It's a goal he's strived for for years.
"I'm not somebody who does anything half way," he said. "If I'm going to do something, I want to do it 100 percent. That's why, when I came here, I joined a number of organizations. That's why I joined the Corps in the first place."
Born and raised in Plano, the son of a Marine father and a mother native to Bryan, Ockwood played a lot of hockey and rugby growing up. He's a bit of an outdoorsman, too, with a love of hunting, fishing and camping. He even worked at a ranch for retraining horses.
This is all before he came to A&M.
On Sunday night, you'll find him occupying a boardroom of a different kind, with the Corps' senior leadership seated and standing around one long table.
When he first stepped on campus with his family, becoming the Corps Commander was the last thing on his mind.
"My dad tells me, he commented, 'That could be you someday,'" Ockwood remembers. "And with all the sincerity in the world, I said, 'Yeah right.'"
Well before the time came for him to pick a school, Ockwood had an idea that he'd end up being an Aggie. "I can remember saying to my cousin when I was in the 8th grade or a freshman in high school, without even realizing what I was saying, that I wanted to be in the Corps at A&M," he said.
"I got to see A&M beat Notre Dame when I was a senior in high school," Ockwood remembered, "so all that, coming to the Quad, watching Step Off, being around Texas A&M, that's when I really knew."
And then, when he first arrived on campus as a student and saw the Corps lined up, he had to cut a phone call short as he drove by. "I can remember making the comment to the person I was on the phone with, 'I've got to go. My life is about to change,'" Ockwood said.
Like almost any cadet you'll talk to, the "fish" year is always a stressful time. "Anybody who's ever been in the Corps and been a freshman knows what it means to be in an environment where you don't know anything," Ockwood said, "and they're all moving 150 mph, and you learn how to cope and learn and how to deal, and ultimately, learn how to succeed.
"The Corps does a great job of touching so many things that no one has a total enough package to avoid being affected on some level mentally," he continued. "And that's why it's unique for everyone, but the difficulty in overcoming it is the same for everyone at the same time."
The significance and history of the organization Ockwood now leads is not lost on this young man.
"This organization is 129 years old, and that means there's 129 years of people's expectations that I have to live up to, as well as the 1,750 members of the Corps today," he said.
And as that leader of this Corps, with all the speeches, public and private, with all the responsibility, professionally and personally, Ockwood wouldn't have it any other way.
"Everyone in the Corps feels like they own it," he said. "It's something incredibly personal to you, as a cadet, and you don't want things to change or to be different. No cadet would tell you, 'I had a great four years, and I don't care what happens after that.'
"Wearing the boots and the uniform, to be here and to know that the time is limited, I try so hard to appreciate every minute, even the bad stuff," he continued. "I wake up every single day, and when I look in the mirror, I am so grateful that I have one more day to wear the uniform."
And ask Ockwood about what the Corps means to him, and you'll get a long, but very poignant answer.
"Yes, there's camaraderie, there's honor, there's loyalty, there's bending, there's knowledge, there's education, there's physical fitness, personal, spiritual and moral development. All of these things are a part of it. But the Corps, to me, is about maximizing every ounce of potential within your body. That's why I joined."
You can find out more about Matt Ockwood at the official Corps of Cadets website.
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