Young men and women from all walks of life join Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets. That's all too apparent when you look at Serge Shkuro, whose journey from the Sea of Japan to the seat of Aggieland has him living out his dreams.
For some Aggies, trekking to A&M from Seattle or New Mexico would be a long trip. Serge Shkuro lived in those places after age 10.
He was born in Vladivostok, in eastern Russia. His mother decided on American dreams for him.
"She actually dropped everything she had and took the opportunity to move to the US so I could have a better future, so I could go to school, and so I could achieve my goals," Shkuro said.
His parents were divorced, and Shkuro's father and older brother remained in his homeland.
"I really didn't know about all the problems Russia had until I moved here and until I was old enough to realize what all those problems were," Shkuro said.
He has no problems with grades. His current GPR: 3.93. His major: molecular and cell biology.
"So far, I've had one B, and that was in organic chemistry," Shkuro said. "It's a heckuva class, and I'm definitely going to beat the hell out of it this semester and get an A."
Though he was never pressured towards a career path, Shkuro's following in the scientific footsteps of his engineer parents and his dentist brother.
"I've always liked science, and it's something that's always caught my attention," he said. "I think that's where I'd be most beneficial, and something I could excel at."
Shkuro excelled so much before college that he earned full scholarships to New Mexico and New Mexico State. He turned both down.
"I work during the summer," Shkuro explained. "I'm a firefighter with the forest service. If I work really hard, I'm able to make enough money to get myself through college, but it's not the money I'm worried about. It's who I am after I finish college that concerns me, and what kind of person I am."
Shkuro had been looking at schools in the southwest like UNM, NMSU and Arizona State, but was convinced like so many by a recruiter. His gut had previously dismissed the idea of going to the Lonestar State, though his heart soon showed him there was something special in Aggieland.
Shkuro plans to be an Air Force doctor. He's planning on being in medical school in three years and serving his new country as a career.
"I feel that I should be able to repay the opportunity by serving in the military," he said. "I think some of the best leaders in this country come from the military."
The same can be said about one A&M organization that's captured the heart of a Russian-turned-Aggie enthusiast.
"You wouldn't learn anything about yourself or how to become a leader if you had no idea how to interact with people of different ethnic groups, religious beliefs and genders," Shkuro said. "I take pride in walking down the campus in my uniform because I know I'm part of something special that's been around since 1876, and there's no other feeling that can beat that."