Corps Values: Aggie Spotlight with Will McCauley ’06
Picture it: Aggieland, 2006. Jersey Shore is all the rage on MTV, Facebook poke wars are a thing, Drake just dropped “Thank Me Later”, ‘Party in the USA’ and ‘Single Ladies’ were your fave songs, you watched YouTube videos like ‘Old Gregg’ and ‘David after Dentist’ more times than you can count on your fingers and toes, and pictures were taken on new ‘digital’ handheld cameras.
Insert Will McCauley, President of DC Aggies (NCTAMC), vet for exotic animals, owner of a pet pig, and all-around hometown hero. Will was a member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets (and will give an intimate account of his experiences of being a CT, or ‘Corps Turd’), an Animal Science Major (remember THAT building??), knows what it takes to date the powerful women of DC, and a lover of a good time with good people. He’s given the most in-depth interview to date, and I promise it’s worth EVERY moment of the 10 minutes it’ll take to read.
Why did you choose TAMU for your studies?
Like a lot of folks, I come from an Aggie family: Mom, Dad, aunts, uncles, cousins, sister, brother-in-law…it’s Aggies all the way down the line. I’d say I looked into other colleges while I was a senior in high school, but the reality is that Texas A&M was the only place I ever wanted to be.
What did you study?
I was an animal science major in undergrad, so as a proud College of Agriculture alumnus I like to point out that “We put the A in A&M”. After undergrad I went on to get a DVM from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science and an MBA from Mays Business School. I like to think I took advantage of a very large swath of the educational opportunities available at TAMU, but every time I go back, I realize that there is so much more going on at that campus than I ever realized.
From the amazing things engineering students learn at the new Zachary building, to the exposure to International Affairs and diplomacy issues at the Bush School, to the top notch medical professionals that our med school and nursing school are producing…you don’t realize all that A&M is until you’ve been out of College Station for a while and see what other universities look like. Then when you come back, you’re blown away by all that we’re able to do at A&M that (relatively) very few people every get the chance to do.
Does your current job relate to your degree?
Yes and no. After vet school I did a rotating internship in Charlotte, NC before going back to Dallas to practice clinical medicine for about five years. When I decided I wanted to get out of the clinic I looked for jobs available for veterinarians where my training would give me a leg up. Thankfully I found the perfect fit here in DC, and I get to use the training I received in vet school and B-school every day.
What’s your favorite DC Aggie event to attend?
The networking/welcome events that our Outreach team puts on every few months are always a blast. They put a lot of time and effort into finding fun venues and getting the word out to a mix of established Ags, young professionals, and current students/interns so that it’s a diverse mix of people at the event. If anyone is looking to “test the waters” and see what the club is about, I highly recommend attending one of the events or a Howdy Hour.
What’s your favorite Aggie tradition?
Midnight Yell Practice. The march in, the camaraderie, the mugging down…what’s not to like?
What advice would you give yourself as a Fish if you could go back?
Join more organizations/clubs. Since I was in the Corps, that pretty much dominated all of my non-academic time through my senior year and I know that I missed out on some great opportunities for friendships and learning because of it. Fish year is busy, but so is every other time of your life. Get out there and enjoy all that A&M has to offer.
..As a senior?
Don’t waste a single minute of the time you have left at A&M. I spent a full decade in College Station, and by the end of it I thought I was done with the town forever. But time has a way of revealing the true uniqueness of that little place in the middle of Texas and the one-of-a-kind institution that we all love. The rest of the world will always be there to go out and discover, but your time as a student at A&M is limited. Soak up all there is to be enjoyed in your days learning from the world’s greatest teachers and your fellow Aggies there near the banks of the Brazos.
What brought you to the DMV?
I got a job at a trade association in the district. About a year and a half ago I sold my house in Dallas, threw my pets in the car, and drove up to DC over the course of two days to start the current chapter of my life.
What has your career track been since you’ve arrived? (has it been linear or not?)
I’m still at the same job as when I moved up here and enjoying it more every day. I’m allowed a lot of leeway in terms of running my section as I see fit, and it’s rewarding to see the fruits of my labor affecting a larger swath of my industry than when I was a practicing veterinarian back home.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned on the job?
The ability to hold your tongue and not blurt out your opposition to this or that at the first opportunity is a lost art, nowhere more so than in DC. There have been numerous times where I teetered on the edge of speaking my mind and pointing out the various failures of those above and below me…but thankfully I held back and, with time, realized that allowing things to cool off for awhile left me much less emotionally charged and able to think more strategically about what I could do to fix the problems I saw. This has resulted in me being granted some great new responsibilities, and I’m being noticed at my company for the RIGHT reasons because of it.
What’s your favorite DC gem you’d like to share?
Bar/Restaurant: The Pig on 14th Street is my favorite restaurant in town, if for no other reason than I happen to have a pet pig. Good whiskey selection too.
Activity: Technically not DC, but in Rockville there’s a tree-top obstacle course/zipline place called Go Ape. When the weather warms up a bit I highly recommend giving it a try.
Venue: The Kennedy Center
Museum: The Air & Space Museum on the National Mall gets all the press, but for my money the Udvar-Hazy Center out at Dulles is an even better aircraft museum.
How do you occupy your time outside of work?
Trying out new places to eat, hitting up the shooting range, and travelling.
ON PERSONAL LIFE
How would you describe your hometown?
I’ve always thought of Tyler as a bubble of old-family oil money in the middle of East Texas, and most folks from there will back me up in saying that Tyler has a different feel from the surrounding areas. It’s a great place to be from, and my family still lives there to this day. I enjoy visiting every chance I get, but I don’t think I’ll move back there anytime soon.
How has the married/dating life been for you?
Dating in DC has been great! Before I met my girlfriend, I went on lots of dates with women the likes of which I would’ve never been able to meet had I not moved here. Dating can be hard in DC because everyone who is here for any length of time is at the top of their game, so even though you might have been hot stuff back in Garland because you had some letters behind your name, here every other woman you meet is an Attorney or has a PhD/advanced degree in some kind of hyper-advanced subject matter, so you have to really work to stay on their level.
What’s been the best part of living in the Greater Washington area?
Despite everything you hear about “The Swamp” and the level of dysfunction (both real and over-stated) of the federal government, Washington D.C. is truly one of the world’s great cities. This is the capitol of the freest, richest, most power country in the history of the world…and we get to live here. Think of the relatively small number of people over the course of human civilization who get to say that.
We’re blessed to have the opportunity to affect real change in the world from this city in the swamp. It’s important to realize that, regardless of the differences in our opinions on what this change should look like, we’re all on the same team and shouldn’t let our passion for our specific views cloud our judgement or impede our ability to work together.
Describe a perfect Sunday for you?
I’d wake up around 9 and take my dog and pig to the local dog park for some animal time. Then I’d hit up my favorite diner in Alexandria for breakfast, drop off the pets at the house, and head over to the Billy Goat Trail for a hike. I’d eat a late lunch at Tony & Joe’s on the Georgetown waterfront, then go to the Wharf and imagine owning one of the mega yachts I always see parked at the dock. I’d catch the water taxi back to Alexandria, where I’d eat dinner at Virtue Feed & Grain before going to the cigar bar above 219 Restaurant and listening to some blues until late into the night. I’d probably hate myself Monday morning, but that’d be a pretty great Sunday.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your life?
Graduating from vet school was the culmination of everything I had done in the 28 years prior, and I take immense pride in attaining something that lots of folks say they want to attain when they’re kids but don’t get to do so. Even though I’m no longer in practice, the human-animal bond is something I still enjoy immensely; being able to talk with people off-hand about their pets and offer intelligent, educated advice on issues they might be facing gives me a great deal of satisfaction to this day.
RANDOM FACTS FOR THE FAMILY
Would you rather be yourself in another era, or someone else right now?
I’d like to be me (knowing all the things I know) but back in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. More specifically, I’d like to hang out with Teddy Roosevelt (fav POTUS). That dude was a real-life badass, and from all accounts a great human being.
What would your walk-up song be?
“Power” by Kanye
Would you prefer more money or more time?
If I’m being honest, more money. Money makes so many more things possible, both for you and anyone you decide to share it with. I have decent time management skills so there’s a good balance of work and leisure in my life…but a Gulfstream would be pretty damn cool.
If you could have any superpower in the world, what would you choose?
Mind reading. For decent, moral, ethical purposes only, obviously…
What skill do you wish you had?
I had my choice, I wish I could play the piano whenever needed. Seems like it’d be a good skill to have at parties: “What’s that Senator? The band cancelled on you and you need someone to tickle the ivories and entertain the guests? Say no more…”
What are you reading right now?
The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. My favorite contemporary author is Michael Lewis (The Big Short, Liar’s Poker, Moneyball) and I’m looking forward to reading his newest book, The Fifth Risk.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
The TV show Bridezillas
Who is your favorite Texas celebrity?
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Rangers or Astros? Cowboys or Texans?
I’ll root for either baseball team depending on what city I’m in at the time. And well, since I’m a proud American, I’ll always root for America’s Team. WE DEM BOYZ.
Best Texas Foods
Favorite spot for tacos: Torchy’s. Period.
Favorite beer: St. Arnold’s Brewery in Houston. I could drink their Lawnmower beer all day, any season.
Topo Chico or La Croix: There is no comparison: Topo Chico all the way. I’ve considered asking if they could put Topo in a keg and ship it up to DC for me so I could get my fix.
Whole Foods, Fiesta or HEB: The first time I went into the Whole Foods in Austin it was a near religious experience. I could stand in front of their wall of cheese for an hour just imagining what all those varieties might taste like. It might be a little hipster heavy, but I’m in the Whole Foods camp.
ON THE FIGHTING TEXAS AGGIE CORPS OF CADETS
What made you decide to be in the Corps?
My uncle was a CT back in the 70’s when he was at A&M and I had always enjoyed going to march-ins prior to Aggie football games. Coming into college I was hard-headed and thought I knew way more than anyone else in the room on any given subject. But even the roughest, toughest, smartest, most dynamic manly man anyone’s ever known will admit to being terrified at the start of Freshmen Orientation Week their fish year.
My time in the Corps was a humbling experience, and learning that there are parts of your life that you just have to relinquish control of and get through was an incredibly valuable lesson. In a place like DC, where there are more moving parts to any one issue you may be working on than any other place in the world, it’s good to remember that sometimes all you can do is over-deliver on what is expected of you and trust that others will do the same.
What company were you in? How did you decide?
E-2. We were and are the E-2 Rebels; Rebel Joe is on our outfit sign.
I did the “Spend the Night with the Corps” program during high school and enjoyed the feel of the outfit. Of course, they don’t show you everything that you’ll experience as a fish, but it ended up being the best decision I ever made.
What was your favorite aspect/tradition of the Corps?
Not everyone knows about it, but the Corps is responsible for raising the flags in front of the Administration Building every morning and lowering them every night. A “flag detail” consisting of a senior, two sophomores, and about 18 fish march over from the Quad to the front of the Administration Building and perform the duty in strict military custom. Because of my position senior year I was able to take part in this every time my outfit sat guard duty, and it’s a small, quiet, moving activity that can be really beautiful when the sun is just peaking over the horizon on Eastgate.
Anyone who stood next to the Corps Block during a football game or sat next to a CT in class on a day it was raining can back me up on this one: those polyester-wool blend uniforms smell god-awful when they get wet.
What’s a rumor that’s true you can share?
The pranking in my day was legit. Back when the old Corps dorms were still around you could get away with a lot of stuff since they were essentially built like bomb shelters. From starting fires on a guy’s floor while he’s asleep, to riding a dirt bike down the fourth-floor hallway to wake everyone up, to wall-bombing your buddy the morning after he’d tied one on at Northgate the night before, pranks were a great avenue for creativity in the Corps.
My favorite was to wait until Duncan Dining Hall had their annual crawfish boil around Mardi Gras. You’d get some fish to carry back a couple dozen crawfish after dinner and then sneak them into a buddy’s room while he was out to hide them all over the place. After a week or so the smell coming from his air conditioner, his pillow case, the back of his computer monitor (yes, we once took apart the housing of a guy’s big, old-school computer monitor and stuck a couple crawdads into it before putting it back together) was so horrendous the guy would have to walk around his room sniffing everything to try and locate where we’d hidden these decaying crustaceans.
Are you in a secret society?
Not that I know of.
What’s a blemish in the Corp’s history you’d like to address?
People will say (with good reason) that the Corps is filled with more than its share of weird guys and gals. I’ll be the first to say that the Corps has a tendency to attract folks who might not be the most socially adept right out of high school. I was that way too and will whole-heartedly admit to drinking the Corp Kool-aid a bit too heavily during my fish year and assuming that that’s all there was to the college experience.
But the reality is, once cadets realize that the Corps requires a certain mindset and learn how to “turn it off” once you step off the Quad, CT’s are regular students who happen to wear a uniform to class. Many of them will go on to proudly serve in our nation’s military forces, and I think lot of people will agree with me that the military takes a different mindset from that of civilian life. For the vast majority of CT’s, by their junior and senior year they’ve learned how to live in the two worlds, so give that weird fish in your chemistry class a break when he falls asleep during lecture and appears to be talking to people for the very first time when you encounter him at a FLO meeting. He’ll come around.
What’s your proudest moment from your time in the Corps?
My senior year I had the privilege to serve as the Executive Officer (second in command) for my outfit. My buddy who was our Commanding Officer took a hands-off approach to the day-to-day activities of the outfit since he was a Navy contract and engineering student and had a lot of other stuff on his plate. Because of this I was able to step in and lead an eclectic mix of some fine young men who saw what we were working towards and put their hearts and souls into everything we did.
At Parent’s Weekend that year, E-2 had the most successful year in its history. The outfit won the General Moore Award (highest award a company can win), the Commandant’s Cord, the Sanchez Award for outstanding recruiting, and several other citations. Being a senior I only got to wear that General Moore cord for a few weeks before my time in the Corps was up, but knowing that I had played a small role in my outfit being recognized as the best there was in 2006…well, it made each one of those remaining days I spent in uniform a treasure.
Name a famous/well-known person from your unit/company
People may have heard of a pretty famous CT from E-2, who’s still pretty active from what I hear.
…Her name is Reveille.