Skip To Main Content
Victoria Arelle Rodriguez on horseback in the Parsons Mounted Cavalry
Senior Victoria Arelle Rodriguez is a member of the Parsons Mounted Cavalry and Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. | Image: Courtesy of Victoria Arelle Rodriguez

It’s football gameday in Aggieland.

But before kickoff and yells and War Hymns, there’s the pre-game parade and the Corps of Cadets step-off. Cameras at the ready, fans line the street next to Kyle Field to watch the 2,500+ cadets march in and hear the band play.

Victoria Arelle Rodriguez, a senior in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M University, said that she knew this was the place for her from the first time she set foot on campus for her older sister’s college tour. Now, she’s part of an atmosphere that draws over 100,000 former, current and prospective students to campus each week throughout fall.

Playing the mellophone in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, Rodriguez describes her experience as one in a million.

“I'm right behind the drum section,” she said. “And being able to feel the vibrations coming off of the drums, mixed with all the noise and people watching you and taking photos, it's such an amazing feeling that you don't experience anywhere else. It’s just so cool to me. I don't even know how to describe it.”

Though exhilarating, being part of the band is also a large undertaking, especially for a student studying engineering.

Victoria Arelle Rodriguez in the Corps of Cadets Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band
Both Rodriguez and her older sister are in the Department of Ocean Engineering. | Image: Courtesy of Victoria Arelle Rodriguez

During football season, Rodriguez wakes up early six days of the week for practice, with some Saturdays being especially busy with the actual gameday events. Sunday, the band’s only off-day, is reserved for catching up on homework and personal care.

Rodriguez explained that she juggles her life as a cadet and an engineer by taking each day as it comes because they are often filled to the brim with responsibilities — whether its band practice, homework or horse hygiene. Add the possibility of traveling for away games and long-term scheduling can be even more complicated.

“I really take things a day at a time and just make sure I know what needs to get done,” Rodriguez said. “Engineering can be difficult. But it really depends on how you choose to handle it. Doing band and engineering is definitely not the easiest path. It’s all about learning how to maintain and balance everything.”

In addition to being in the Aggie Band, Rodriguez is also in the Parsons Mounted Cavalry. She said working with horses has taught her how to communicate with somebody who cannot understand her and develop a mutual language between them. Further, it has helped her learn to make quick decisions, as a horse — no matter how well trained — still has a mind of its own.

“Every horse has a different personality,” Rodriguez said. “We ride different horses all the time, so you have to figure your horse out. You have to learn how to communicate — and communicate well — to talk to the horse and other people in order to know how to take care of them.”

Rodriguez went on to say that her time in the band and cavalry has helped her grow professionally and given her key takeaways that she has applied to her time in engineering. Lessons such as time management, communication and how to interact on a team have all transferred over into her studies. But perhaps the one thing that has stood out to her most is the understanding that university and career is not a one-person show.

“You cannot go through everything alone,” she said. “You need people to help you in order to succeed and learn. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’ve had my buddies there for me. Having relationships you can rely on makes your world so much easier.”