The Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee (WBAC) at Texas A&M has remained one of many influential student-run organizations on campus for nearly 45 years.
Initially starting as a programming committee, the organization took on a larger role for students, promoting African–American awareness and exploring opportunities to enhance the student experience on campus — and at its helm this year is Aja Holston, a senior political science major from Arlington.
“This organization has redefined what I believe many people call leadership today — it doesn’t just fall on one individual — it’s a group effort,” Holston says. It’s also evident that the organization carries the same mentality. The group is structured into 13 executive members, including two chairs and three subcommittees, and it hosts a number of educational and social events year-round including a series of Black History Month events and the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast.
Holston says she specifically chose A&M in hopes of developing her unique style of leadership and debate. “Seeing Valecia Battle ’12 and her commitment to leadership was really inspiring,” Holston recalls. “She served as one of the few minority voices on campus — and I wanted that to change.”
It wasn’t long until Holston discovered WBAC her freshman year and began serving.
As chair of WBAC, Holston has gone above and beyond to promote student involvement within the minority community and around the Brazos Valley. Her calm and confident attitude towards leadership has served the university well in all aspects.
“Texas A&M is a unique place for leaders,” Holston says. “It really showed me the importance of building relationships before you’re able to lead someone.”
It’s fair to say that she’s led by example during her tenure with WBAC. Last summer, Holston became one of 12 students to be included in the university’s War Hymn Monument, a new statue that will stand on the east side of the renovated Kyle Field. She also gained national attention during an appearance on MSNBC to discuss organizing efforts of the Black Youth Project following the George Zimmerman verdict.
Holston’s accomplishments don’t stop there. During last year’s MLK Breakfast, she facilitated a question- and- answer session with actor and humanitarian Danny Glover.
Despite her many accomplishments, Holston is always sure to give credit to her executive staff and members of WBAC. “I am humbled to have an incredible group of directors who are passionate about this organization,” she says.”
Holston’s poise and style of leadership not only reflects that of her organization, but the university as well. “As student leaders we have to acknowledge that leadership does not come from just one person,” she adds.
WBAC has continuously enhanced the scope of its organization through hosting multiple educational programs and raising awareness, made possible by donations and university funding. Students who wish to apply for membership or executive staff have the option of completing the WBAC application online, or submitting it manually to the Student Programs Office in the Memorial Student Center (MSC) Suite 2240 at the beginning of each spring semester.
Today, Holston is preparing for graduation with her eyes set on attending law school and entering the field of social justice and youth development. As she looks back on her collegiate career, she recalled an African proverb: “A&M has taught me ‘Ubuntu,’ which means ‘I am, because we are.’” she explains. “Our decisions affect each other despite the decisions we make as individuals.”
Story by Trey Bodwin, a senior communications major
Media contact: Krista Smith, Communications Coordinator, at (979)845-4645