Rogers LEAD WT Leaves a Lasting Mark

Jonathan Espinoza, Editor

Unlike Buff Brandings of the past, the 2016 event proved especially unique due in part that it was organized and implemented primarily by students of West Texas A&M University.

Spearheaded by the senior scholars of Rogers LEAD WT, a leadership education and development program, Buff Branding 2016 added to the storied tradition of the event while allowing for a more student-centric affair in which the ideas generated by the LEAD WT scholars came to fruition over a three-day period all across campus.

Beginning just less than a year ago, the LEAD scholars hit the ground running when they were given the green light to take Buff Branding into their own hands.  With the help of current students, faculty and staff, the WTAMU class of 2020 partook in events that highlighted school spirit, inclusivity and tradition.

“Originally, Buff Branding was planned by a committee from the university, but as our senior class project, Rogers LEAD WT has taken it on,” said Kenzie Perryman, senior Animal Science major.  “It (Buff Branding) is the extension of the new student orientation that the incoming freshman attend in the summer.  It has a more social element as it serves as an introduction to the university.”

The three-day introduction was planned to the detail with a vast majority of the work taking place behind the scenes.  Members of Rogers LEAD WT were on campus hours before many others making sure tables were set up in the right location as well as organizing the logistics behind the distribution of hundreds of pounds of snacks and hundreds of gallons of water.  Along with providing nourishment for over 900 incoming freshmen, senior scholars trained a handful of select students who acted as Buff Leaders, a variation on the Peer Leader, all of whom are tasked with guiding first-year students to success, but specific only to the Buff Branding experience.

“What is great about this project is that they get to practice the things they learned in the classroom,” said Amber Black, faculty director, Rogers LEAD WT.  “The third semester of Rogers LEAD WT is really focused on team development.  The senior scholars have not only spent classroom time putting this event together but countless hours outside meeting time in order to make this project a success.”

And a huge event it was.  At the culminating event, the actual Buff Branding, the ‘baby Buffs’, as they were affectionately called, walked across the outdoor stage to receive their ink-pad brands from their designated Buff Leaders.

“I didn’t really know much about WT before coming here,” said Kristen Vire, freshman Musical Theatre major.  “It was really great having these Buff Branding experiences to give me some more information about campus as well as the chance to meet some really cool people so far.”

For almost 72 hours straight, the eyes of campus were on Rogers LEAD WT, and as Buff Branding celebrated a successful finish, those who supervised the students could not have been more proud.

“I think just watching these students grow in the area of decision making, dealing with others and seeing them rise to the occasion has been so inspiring,” said Missy Macon, Leadership Coordinator, Rogers LEAD WT.