When asked how he defines leadership, Texas A&M University senior William Nereson refers to the words of former Salvation Army Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle who said, “The final estimate of men shows that history cares not an iota for the rank and title a man has borne or the office he has held, but only for the quality of his deeds and the character of his mind and heart.”
Nereson says he’s taken those words to heart, dedicating himself to leading by serving others, and has found a grand endeavor to carry out that mission as director of this year’s Big Event, March 29, the largest one-day student-run service project in the nation. During the event, Texas A&M students fan out through the local community, performing tasks ranging from painting, to yard work, to cleaning.
“The mission of the Big Event is to say ‘thank you’ to the Bryan/College Station community by uniting on one day for service-oriented activities,” says Nereson, a native of Boerne, Texas, majoring in industrial distribution. “Last year we had about 17,600 students participate in serving about 1,800 jobsites. This year we have 20,200 students signed up to participate and over 2,000 jobs in the community. We have never seen an increase like this before.”
In addition to local growth of participation, Nereson shares the now worldwide spread of The Big Event, an initiative that started at Texas A&M 32 years ago. “Currently there are more than 110 Big Events around the nation. There are Big Events planned in Spain, Germany and Italy, and more in Australia, Germany and Pakistan are in their beginning stages, he says, adding, “We’re nowhere near stopping. Someday, The Big Event hopes to establish what we call ‘The One Big Day’ where all schools with Big Events around the nation and world unite on one day for the largest worldwide service project ever.”
Nereson’s involvement with The Big Event began his freshman year and he’s participated each year since, finally working his way up to director. He says the experience has shown him what real leadership is all about: “Anyone can complete tasks and follow plan of action, but the real question lies in the how are you going to serve, influence, inspire, unify and empower the people around you. In the end, the most important thing is going to be the relationships that have been built.”
A first-generation Aggie, along with his twin brother, he says he chose to attend Texas A&M “because of the values it stands for, from loyalty to selfless service. It is a place unlike any other, and the people and experiences have made me into the person I am today. The character I’ve developed through A&M will impact the rest of my life.”
In addition to his Big Event volunteerism, Nereson is a Texas A&M Foundation Maroon Coat, serving as a university ambassador at a variety of Foundation events. Last year he was honored with the Buck Weirus Spirit Award, which recognizes students for high involvement, creating positive experiences throughout the community, impacting student life and enhancing the Aggie Spirit. And he belongs to several academic honor societies.
He is set to graduate this December and says he’s weighing options that include attending graduate school in chemical engineering at Texas A&M-Qatar or perhaps working for a major professional services firm in California.
Nereson says he’s looking forward to this Saturday’s Big Event, adding it wouldn’t be possible without the tireless efforts of event staff and student volunteers. “We are asking for students to meet us at Lot 100E near Reed Arena at 8 a.m. to experience it themselves. A unified Aggie family is one of the most impactful sights you’ll ever see.”
Media contact: Lesley Henton, Division of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M University; 979-845-5591, firstname.lastname@example.org