Roy May gives new meaning to the term “non-traditional student.”
May, a junior industrial distribution major from Spring, is a 34-year-old Army veteran with combat experience who, after 12 years of military service, elected to attend Texas A&M University, join its Corps of Cadets and then was elected yell leader. He’s a husband (his wife also is an Army veteran) and father of an 8-year-old daughter. Somehow, he still finds time to be in the Army Reserve.
In reflecting on his time in the service, May says that time was important to him. “I wouldn’t say it completely defines who I am and who I have become, but it definitely is a big part of my life. I put a lot of stock in serving my country in one capacity or another, and serving in the Army was one way I could give back to my country.”
May’s time in the Army is anything but typical.
May says he spent four-and-a-half years with the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Ft. Myer, Va. Following that, he was a Tomb Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, part of the Continental Color Guard (the nation’s foremost colors team), and a member of the Presidential Marching Platoon.
“I aided in rescue and recovery at the Pentagon the night of 9/11,” May states simply about one of the most difficult days of his service. He describes it as emotionally and physically taxing and says it was hard work in tough conditions and some of the things he and those working with him had to witness were rough.
“But it was our duty,” he recalls in describing what he and other rescuers did that day. “It was our immediate contribution and we took it seriously.”
May also was one of the service members who watched over the late President Ronald Reagan as he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. His next duty was as a recruiter in San Diego where he also was the Battalion singer and “I even got to sing at a Padres v. Dodgers game,” he adds.
From there, May was stationed with the 1st/505th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) with the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, where he deployed as a combat squad leader to Iraq in 2009.
After returning from that deployment, May made the decision to attend Texas A&M. In a very real way, it was a matter of coming home: May was born in College Station while his dad was at Texas A&M and his sister is Class of 1995. So with his wife Megan, and their eight-year-old daughter Kira, May became a non-traditional student—but with a lot family tradition going for him.
“My dad received his commission from Texas A&M in 1966 and served 30 years in the Army as an Infantry officer and he has always been such a great influence in my life and an amazing role model, so choosing to follow in his steps in one way or another was only natural.”
Also like his father, May joined the Corps of Cadets when he enrolled at Texas A&M.
While May says there were certain aspects of transitioning that were difficult, coming to Texas A&M makes it a lot easier. “The different services for veterans at the university help make the transition to students easier and Texas A&M’s military history makes it a much smoother transition.”
The network for veterans is so large and giving, May notes, “it’s impossible to be able to name everyone who has helped me, but Karen Cambronero, military admissions liaison, has had so much to do with me even being at A&M. She’s been working with me since I first applied and has helped me through the process. She has such a huge heart for service and helping veterans at A&M and my situation was no different.”
Like other Aggies, May has immersed himself in life at the university and as a member of the corps. In addition, he has joined a student organization. While that is typical for students, once again the organization he joined is not typical for a non-traditional student.
Last spring May ran for, and was elected, a Yell Leader by the student body at the university and he says he’s settling into the job pretty well. The five Yell Leaders are the official spirit organization of the university and they lead Aggie fans in “yells” during athletic events and other school events.
“Our duties really began at the end of the spring semester and our schedule really ramps up over the summer, so we’ve had plenty of time to settle in as a group,” May explains. “To say I’m having fun may be a bit of an understatement. It’s an absolute blast being able to represent Texas A&M in various situations. Leading yells, getting thrown in Fish Pond after a game (a fountain on campus), travelling to Aggie Mom’s Clubs, getting to tell the Aggie story wherever I go…it’s a privilege and I can never thank the student body enough for giving me this opportunity.”
With all of this, this most unusual and non-typical of Aggie students isn’t sure if he has any dreams of leaving a legacy at Texas A&M.
“This university has such a rich history of so many amazing individuals who have done so much for Texas A&M, the State of Texas, America and even the world. If anybody thought I was important enough to be remembered for my actions, I would maybe hope that people realize that that it is never too late to go back to school, veteran or otherwise. If there’s one thing I know a bunch of my old Army buddies remember about me, it’s my undying love for everything that is Texas A&M.”