From the Corps XIV: Jessica Simmons

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She grew up in Florida, but despite acceptance letters from schools there, there was one option, one family tradition for Jessica Simmons.

"You hear people tell stories," she said, "and you just want to be a part of something that's bigger than yourself, and that's what A&M gives you."

Her mother and father were Ags. As far as the Corps goes, Simmons' father (Class of 1979), brother (2004), sister-in-law (2002), uncle (1976) and cousins all wore the uniform.

"I'm a firm believer that Aggies breed Aggies," Simmons said. "There's pictures of me when I was five with a Texas A&M t-shirt on giving the old gig 'em and playing Aggie-opoly growing up.

"I can't remember when I said, 'I want to go to A&M,'" she added. "I think it was just something I thought my whole life."

She had an idea what the school and the Corps was all about, including after some visits.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this place is crazy. I could never imagine doing this,'" Simmons said. "But I guess that wasn't really true."

There are 33 units in the Corps. Squadron 3 is the lone unit with a female commander.

"It's a role that says this is the model of where you want to be," Simmons said of the position. "I know at the end of the year, my freshman are going to remember who I was, and I'm going to be able to make an impact on them and get to know these people."

But heading up the outfit as a woman is an even more fulfilling position for Simmons.

"Maybe I see the quad as a little bit of a battlefield sometimes because there are still people that wonder how a woman can succeed in this organization," she said. "But I see my role as just like another male cadet's.

"There's female freshman and sophomores and juniors looking at the way I'm acting right now and what I'm saying," she continued. "It keeps you in line and it keeps me motivated."

And there's little doubt behind the motivation for Simmons getting into the Corps in the first place.

"I think it was just the driving thought of how can I impact people to make the organization better when I leave than when I came in," she said.

Her impact is wide-reaching. Simmons is involved in the O.R. Simpson Honor Society, the Nichols Leadership Conference, and has spent time in Guatemala at an orphanage, an act of service that parallels to service in the Corps.

"It's serving those children, and it's fulfilling something in me that drives me, being able to serve other people," Simmons said. "I'm always busy. I don't like just sitting around, doing nothing. For me, that's just the way I've always been."

Rain or shine, the Ross Volunteers are out practicing their manuevers and preparing for their next event. It's a practice where mind and body are pushed, all in an effort to strive for perfection at whatever they do.

On a soaked afternoon, overflowing might be the best way to describe Simmons schedule, especially as a member of the elite RVs.

"Being a woman and being selected, it meant that I have fulfilled my experience as a cadet, not just as a woman, but as a cadet in the Corps," Simmons said.

And the Corps experience as a whole is something that drives Simmons to achieve greater things. After A&M, she believes event planning is the road she'll take, and but whichever path ends up being travelled, Simmons says the Corps has her ready.

"It means hard work," she explained. "It means dedication. It means getting up everyday and doing your job. But it also means being a part of something that I don't think I'll even fully understand until I look at it in retrospect."

And her message is simple for anyone in the Corps, or anyone thinking about joining: "Don't let people tell you that you can't. That's what I hope to be, a role model and someone that sets up the outfit for success in the future."