Staff Spotlight: Katie Paschal

Katie Paschal is new Destination Servicing Director at the Bryan College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau. As a Texas A&M grad, she jumped at the opportunity to stay Aggieland. She now helps the CVB provide top-notch customer service to visitors and makes sure that guests experience the camaraderie that Aggieland is known for. Here is a little about Katie. Give her a call for any servicing needs or assistance during your stay in BCS.

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Who is Katie Paschal (where are you from, college, major, any other background info)?

I was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up there until my family and I moved to Brenham when I was in 8th grade. I graduated from Brenham High School in 2012. I lived at home my freshman year of college and attended Blinn in Brenham. I transferred to Texas A&M my sophomore year, and recently graduated in May with a degree in Agribusiness. I worked part-time for the CVB for about a month until I graduated and started working full-time.

What do you enjoy about Bryan College Station, Texas?

My favorite part about Bryan College Station is the hospitality here. BCS is rapidly growing, but the friendliness amongst members of the community remains the same no matter how large it becomes. I knew I wanted to stay here once I attended Texas A&M because I loved the welcoming environment so much.

Favorite memories from Texas A&M University?

One of my favorite memories from Texas A&M was when I received my Aggie Ring. My mom was the one who placed my Aggie Ring on my finger (we both tried to hold back tears – of joy of course!). I am the first Texas A&M graduate in my family. The Aggie Network is so remarkable and it exemplifies the power of the Aggie Ring. Later that evening, I had my ring dunk with my roommates at our house. It was such a fun day celebrating with family and friends. My first Midnight Yell was on September 13, 2013, which was the night before the Alabama game. Drake was supposed to come that night as well, but he didn’t show up. However, it didn’t put a damper on the night because when 40,000 Aggies yelled the Aggie War Hymn at the top of their lungs, everyone had forgotten about his supposed appearance. It was amazing to see the spirit of Aggieland come together.  It was an eye-opening experience and something that will always stick out in my mind from my time at Texas A&M.

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My mom and I when I received my Aggie Ring!

What do you think is the most meaningful part of your job?

I reach out to groups that will be coming to Bryan College Station and assist them with services we provide. We want to make sure groups have great experiences and return in the near future to Bryan College Station. Servicing is important because you are finding ways to go the extra mile in welcoming visitors and providing great hospitality which makes an impact on them.

What do you do in your off time?

During my off time I love to workout as much as I can. I recently joined CrossFit in College Station and absolutely love it! I did CrossFit two years ago in Brenham for the summer, but when I returned to College Station, I just went to the TAMU Student Recreation Center for the rest of school. CrossFit pushes me outside of my comfort zone to do workouts I normally wouldn’t even consider trying by myself in the gym.

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Working in the tourism industry, where would you love to go?

I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. I have heard it is absolutely beautiful and the weather is perfect. It would also be neat to get a sense of Hawaii’s culture and just be able to see the sheer beauty of the islands. There is so much to do and see. The beaches are some of the best in the world.

A couple of interesting facts or memories:

-I am a Chick-Fil-A addict

– I am an avid Bachelor/Bachelorette fan (team Jordan!)

– My favorite store is Lululemon Athletica. Luckily we just got one.

– I love the sun and getting outside. I would love to be at the beach right now

-I have one brother and he is a sophomore at Texas A&M University

Guest Blog: Pokémon GO in BCS

This week we welcome our first BCS guest blogger! Quinten Smith is an English teacher, self-proclaimed nerd, and Pokémon expert. Smith began his quest to catch ’em all in 1998 in his living room while watching the premiere of the Pokémon TV series. The day that he graduated second grade (circa 1999), his mom gave him a Game Boy Color with Pokémon Blue and the rest was history. 
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Howdy, Trainers!

Pokémon GO has struck the world as the latest global phenomenon that is sweeping the country and, with the game available in over 30 countries by now, it has cemented itself as one of the most popular mobile games in history.
Bearing all of that in mind, this post is designed to help you, the average Pokémon GO trainer living in the Bryan College Station area, along with some great tips if you’re just now starting, or if you’ve been trying to be the very best, like no one ever was, for the past two weeks.
 
VETERANS PARK (FAIRIES GALORE) 
If you are a fan of Jigglypuff, then this is the place for you. Walking around for an hour resulted in enough candy to form Adele, my nicknamed Wigglytuff which served as the cornerstone of my team for quite some time. Aside from the rare Pokémon you can encounter, the park is loaded with Pokéstops in very convenient loops, so you can run your circuits while loading up on those precious pokéballs.
DOWNTOWN BRYAN (EEVEE CENTRAL)
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A wild Pidgey in Dowtown Bryan.
In terms of urban areas in the BCS region, it doesn’t get better than the hustle and bustle of Downtown Bryan. For the past two weeks I haven’t been able to travel around downtown without seeing trainers fighting over the Carnegie Library Gym and taking advantage of the La Salle Hotel double Pokéstops at any hour of the day or night. The popular Pokémon Scyther is known for appearing in this area along with Oddish, Staryu, and a lot of Eevee. Restaurants and shops will have lures around so you can browse and grab a bite while you are trying to catch them all.
 
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY (GHOST TYPES)
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This is me after catching Hitmonlee at Kyle Field.
The developers of the app have stated in interviews that the more players in an area, the better chance of a rare Pokémon spawn, and you won’t find a more dense area of players than the heart of Aggieland. Ghastly, Haunter, Abra, and the infamous Snorlax have all shown up while students have been attending summer classes and going on their campus walks. Take some time to soak in the wonderful tradition and history of one of the country’s most illustrious college campuses while adding a few newbies to your Pokédex.
WOLF PEN CREEK PARK (MAGIKARP & BULBASAUR)
If there is one place in the BCS area to hunt for Pokémon, it’s WPC park. Boasting two great circuits for Pokéstops and more Magikarp than you can shake a stick at, you will love running into trainers at any hour of the day trying to get enough candies for the most sought-after Gyrados. Water types, such as Goldeen, Poliwag, Squirtle; grass types like Oddish, Bulbasaur, Bellsprout; and the pseudolegendary Dratini and Dragonair have all made appearances to players walking around the creek or relaxing along the amphitheater hillside. Many businesses in BCS have devoted their time and delicious resources to the hungry and thirsty trainers that congregate there in the evenings, most times for free, so bring your incubators and your appetite and be prepared to make new friends at the current Aggieland hotspot for trainers.
Before you grab your water bottle and your sunglasses, check these quick tips that any trainer can appreciate:
CHECK THE SERVERS BEFORE YOU GO OUT
It’s no use driving for 15 minutes only to be disappointed that the game is not working, so boot up the app before you leave. Alternatively, you can go to this website and it will check for you.
TRAVEL IN GROUPS
As previously stated in the post, the more people you have with you, the greater the cellphone traffic and the greater chance you have of more Pokémon appearing in your area, so don’t hesitate to bring anyone you know who plays with you. Anyone can catch the Pokémon that spawns in an area; it is not a first come first serve type of game.
SAVE YOUR PIDGEYS
The little bird may be the most annoying Pokémon in the game, but every time you catch one, that’s 100XP AND 3 candies. As you get to the higher levels, it will seem like a difficult grind to progress in the game. However, if you save up all the pidgeys you catch along with a couple lucky eggs, then you can spend the 30-minute period evolving all of your pidgeys, netting you 1000XP for every evolution during the effect of the lucky egg. (Note: this also works with Caterpie and Weedle, since all three Pokémon only require 12 candies for their first evolution)
 INCENSE WORKS BETTER IF YOU’RE MOVING 
The items that attracts Pokémon to you specifically is a pretty rare item, but once you activate one, start moving, because once that happens, you should see Pokémon appear next to you every minute or so, and once they spawn, they’ll stay there for about 15 minutes before it goes away and is replaced with something else (Note: This is the case for all Pokémon spawns in the game ****They’ll be in an area for about 15 minutes, and then the spawns change again****)
Continue to enjoy the game! Remember that this game was designed for exploration, camaraderie, and, more than anything, exercise. So don’t be afraid to sweat to find that Pikachu. So grab your external battery pack, some water, and turn your phone to low power mode. I’ll see you out there trainers!
Until the servers die again,
Mr. Smith

Tarzan: Myth & Mystery

The newest offering from the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History is the Tarzan: Myth & Mystery exhibit. This exciting exhibit showcases a wonderful collection of Tarzan and Edgar Rice Burroughs memorabilia ranging from original artwork, to rare books, and unique film posters. Visitors can explore the natural settings of the Tarzan stories, the life of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the world of pulp art. CVB intern, Keefer took a trip to the Museum to tour the exhibit!

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Last week, I made a trip to the Tarzan: Myth & Mystery exhibit. I was greeted at the front by an energetic, helpful young lady named Tatum. I walked my way around the exhibit taking pictures and I marveled at the stunning taxidermy animals. They look so vicious and realistic. It really made me feel like I was immersed in the Tarzan jungle setting of Africa.

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I was blown away by the attention to detail put into setting up the display cases full of one-of-a-kind memorabilia. I had no idea how popular Tarzan has been throughout the years since Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced the character in 1912. As you walk through the exhibit, you pass by a background of Tarzan that describes how the character came to life. You also learn about the life of author, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and what inspired him to create Tarzan.

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This is the publication that started it all; “Tarzan of the Apes” in The-All Story Magazine represents the first appearance of the Tarzan character in October 1912.

The Tarzan: Myth & Mystery exhibit transitions to a focus on the setting, geography, and animals represented in Tarzan literature. The exhibit includes everything you could think of relating to Tarzan, including the many actors who have portrayed Tarzan, the biggest Tarzan films, various Tarzan comic strips, books, and countless valuable pieces of memorabilia. It even touches on national controversy that arose from Tarzan in the mid 1920s.

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My favorite piece in the exhibit is an artwork titled “Tarzan and the Golden Lion” by J. Allen St. John. The vibrant colors and figure shading are quite impressive.

Tarzan is such a riveting story because Burroughs wrote it in rebuttal to the developing industrial age where men were moving to the major cities en masse. The original Tarzan film was one of the first six silent films to gross over one million dollars. Tarzan is the most filmed character in motion picture history, and has been featured in over fifty major motion pictures, 6 television series, two Broadway stage productions, and thousands of publications and licensed products. The timing of this exhibit is great because of the new The Legend of Tarzan movie out in theaters now. If you plan on heading to the cinema to watch the movie, be sure to stop by the Tarzan: Myth & Mystery exhibit first for an interactive experience.

The Tarzan concept has changed and varied over time, but a universal Tarzan image has lasted through generations. Everyone needs to go experience the Tarzan: Myth & Mystery exhibit because the Tarzan stories are multi-national. Tarzan has captured peoples’ imaginations worldwide. The character of Tarzan speaks to people of all ages at all times.

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This is a display case with Tarzan novels translated into several different languages, showing how the character extends beyond the American culture.

The Tarzan: Myth & Mystery exhibit is important to me personally because Tarzan was such a huge part of my childhood. I was one of those kids who ran around the neighborhood shirtless attempting the Tarzan yell. The adventurous jungle man theme hits home with me because my father was born and raised in the jungles of Peru. He embodies the symbol of a wholesome, kind-hearted, heroic man in touch with nature, much like that of Tarzan.

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My dad was born in Yarinacocha, Peru and he grew up among the people of the Capanahua Indian tribe. This is my dad rocking jorts while hunting and gathering in the jungles of Peru.

In my time spent at the Tarzan: Myth & Mystery exhibit, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk with Dr. Deborah Cowman, Executive Director of the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History. She was so enthusiastic and passionate about how all of the rare pieces of Tarzan memorabilia have come together to form such an unparalleled exhibit. This is the first and potentially the last time all of these unique Tarzan related pieces will be together in one place. Everyone should take a trip on down to the Tarzan: Myth and Mystery exhibit before it leaves on October 29, 2016!

-Keefer

10 Summertime Sweet Shops in BCS

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Picture it: the sun’s shining, the concrete’s scorching, and the grass is soft and cool. School’s out and pools are in. Summertime is here, y’all!

Sunny summer days and long summer nights are always filled with memories here in Bryan College Station. Grab your summertime sweetheart, your friends, family, or kids and check out these dessert shops to satisfy your summer sweet tooth!

  1. JJ’s Snowcones!

JJ’s Snowcones has been serving BCS for over 30 years! With 50 unique flavors, it’s definitely a favorite of visitors and locals alike!

  1. Bahama Bucks

Featuring an endless supply of flavors, Bahama Bucks serves ice-cold snow-cones and smoothies which are perfect for a hot summer day. This place makes sno-cones seem like a gourmet, family recipe rather than flavored frozen water!

  1. Cold Stone Creamery

Ever since we were little, ice cream has always been a go-to snack in the summertime. Rightfully so! Who could turn down the creamy, deliciousness of Cold Stone Creamery? Located right off of George Bush and Texas Ave, this little ice cream shop will have your sweet tooth satisfied in no time.

  1. Marble Slab Creamery

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Marble Slab Creamery offers various flavors of ice cream, cupcakes, cakes, smoothies, and more. Thinking of treating yourself to a special treat this summer? Definitely go for the signature sundaes or the cakelicious sundaes!

  1. Spoons

If you’re not the biggest ice cream fan, no need to fret. Spoons Frozen Yogurt offers a healthier alternative to ice cream with the same incredible taste and flavor selection. Aggie owned and operated, this local fro-yo shop offers 12 flavors and countless toppings!

  1. Yogurtland

A land of yogurt? Honestly, what could be better? With 200 unique flavors, dairy free and gluten free options, and all the toppings you could possibly dream of, this place just SCREAMS summer treat!

  1. Grub Burger Bar

Not only does Grub serve some pretty awesome burgers, they also specialize in awesomely insane milkshakes. Grub features all the home-made, hand-spun normal milkshake flavors, as well as some hand-crafted options. Want to make yours a little crazy? Go for a spiked milkshake!

  1. Sonic Drive-In

Sonic is your ultimate drink stop here in Bryan College Station. With an endless list of shakes, sodas, and snacks, you could practically live here over the summer and all of your dietary needs would be taken care of. They also have half price shakes after 8:00 pm!

  1. The Chocolate Gallery

Located in the heart of Downtown Bryan, The Chocolate Gallery features homemade chocolates and pastries and provides a perfect summertime escape from the BCS heat. Dive face-first into their selection of French macarons, cupcakes, or cheesecakes and surround yourself with love – chocolate love. Who cares about swimsuit season?

  1. Must Be Heaven

Serving up fresh pies, cookies and BLUE BELL ICE CREAM, Must be Heaven has three area locations to satisfy your sweet tooth. They also serve homemade sandwiches, quiche and more to get your lunch in before indulging! 

7 Great Places to get outside in Bryan College Station

What’s summer in Texas without time outside with good friends, family and pets? Our intern, Keefer has compiled a list for your to get your start this season! Grab your blankets, marshmallows and frisbees, we’re headed out!

1) Lake Bryan – Bryan

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Lake Bryan is a one-of-a-kind destination for all things outdoors. It is a peaceful, nature-driven attraction with plenty of activities for you to partake in. The biking and hiking trails go on for miles. Lake Bryan is a great place to go boating, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming during the hot summer days. If you are interested in camping or fishing, Lake Bryan is where you want to go. Live concerts at the Lakeside Icehouse at Lake Bryan are great ways to spend time with your friends.

2) Wolf Pen Creek Park – College Station

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Wolf Pen Creek Park is a wonderful community attraction for residents and visitors. The park offers a variety of outdoor recreation activities including walking along the winding sidewalks, picnicking at the designated tables and eating areas, and playground structures for children to enjoy. Wolf Pen Creek Park is also home to an impressive amphitheater that offers various forms of entertainment like outdoor concerts, movies, and festivals. I enjoy bringing my friends out for walks and playing the 9-hole disc-golf course at Wolf Pen Creek Park.

3) Lick Creek Park – College Station

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Lick Creek Park is home to a variety of animal and plant species unique to the Brazos Valley area. The park offers miles of nature trails and it provides an excellent opportunity for cycling, hiking, nature studying, equestrian activities, and even bird watching! The park is somewhat hidden, but it is totally worth the effort. I especially like going for bike rides on my mountain bike here.

4) Texas A&M Campus – College Station

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I really enjoy getting up early in the mornings to go for my runs before class around campus. All of you students and professors out there should take different routes on your way to and from class so you can enjoy the beautiful architecture and the wonderful scenery the Texas A&M campus has to offer.

5) Veterans Park and Athletic Complex – College Station

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This regional athletic complex is home to numerous athletic fields including soccer, and softball. Veterans Park also hosts the American Pavilion, a great place to host group functions and cookouts outdoors. There are various sidewalks to go for walks along while your kids play. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this park is the gorgeous statues built to recognize and honor the service and sacrifices of all American veterans ‑ past, present and future. The statues make up the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial.

6) Research Park – College Station (Texas A&M campus)

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Research Park is a great place to go for just about everyone. You will see families, joggers, walkers, disc-golfers, and dogs! The park is filled with great ponds where various types of fish and ducks live. The park is quite large, with plenty of activities for the whole family, and has an impressive 18-hole disc-golf course. The park is on the edge of Texas A&M campus, so it makes for a pleasant bike ride there from class.

7) University Park Dog Park – College Station

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University Park is a heavily wooded park with plenty of shade and open areas to roam around. Four acres of this park serve as a designated park built specifically for dogs to socialize and exercise in a safe environment off their leashes. The dog park is fenced in and has separate areas for small and large dogs. Bring your dog out for some exercise where it can enjoy swimming in ponds and a large open space to play.

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I encourage everyone to get out of the house and take some time to see the many great outdoor locations Bryan College Station has to offer. Don’t let the summer heat deter you from going for a walk outside. Let it motivate you to stretch those legs in the morning before school, or decompress after a stressful day at work in the evening. Instead of going to your friend’s house to play video games, get out of the house and take your friends to the park for a walk full of bonding opportunities. Wear your sunscreen and drink plenty of water out there friends! – Keefer

Meet the Intern: Keefer

This week we sat down with Keefer Caid-Loos. The Houston local helps out the communications and marketing team at the CVB. He enjoys traveling, bowling and his cat Rolo.

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Where are you from?

I am from Houston, Texas. I was born in central Houston and have lived there my whole life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

-What are you studying?

I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a minor in Business at Texas A&M University in December 2013. I took time away from school to backpack and travel across Europe with a friend for a month. After returning to the U.S., I worked in the insurance industry for about a year before returning to school. I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in Marketing from Mays Business School at Texas A&M. I will graduate from the program in December 2016.

-Why did you choose Texas A&M University?

I chose Texas A&M University because it is just far enough away from my hometown to experience a new city with new people, yet close enough that the drive home is not bad. I really enjoyed my experience in College Station throughout my undergraduate studies, so it was an easy decision when deciding where to further my education. The MS Marketing program here gives students access to corporate mentors, advisory board members, and offers plenty of opportunities to gain hands-on experience working with real-world companies.

-What do you do at the CVB?

I am a Marketing and Communications intern for the summer. I help work local events, write blogs for the website, and will be making a really exciting video about the best burger in Bryan College Station. I am so pumped to see how that video turns out.                                                           

-What is your favorite sport?

I have three sports that compete for my favorite sport: gymnastics, soccer, and bowling. I competed competitively in gymnastics until I got to high school, and I picked it back up again in college when I competed with the Texas A&M Men’s Gymnastics Team. We won state and national competitions two years in a row during my undergrad. I just feel like gymnastics taught me so much about discipline, commitment, and how to push myself to accomplish difficult tasks. I firmly believe it is, by far, the most brutal and demanding sport, both physically and mentally.

I also played soccer until I attended college. I considered playing for a few Division III schools in college, but ultimately decided I would rather go to a large university and leave the competitive soccer lifestyle behind. I still enjoy watching soccer matches and playing pick-up games with friends when I can. My favorite team is, of course,  the Houston Dynamo because they are from my hometown.

I also have recently picked up bowling in the past few years. Some people argue that bowling is not a sport, but I will argue quite the contrary. It requires a great deal of concentration and practice. Frequent training is required to build muscle memory and consistency. The ability to repeat shots over and over again is critical. I have bowled in the men’s league every year since I started bowling. It is also a great leisure activity to hang out and grab a few drinks with friends.

Here is a link to Keefer’s Floor Performance in Nationals

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Here is Keefer bowling 300’s at Grand Central Station.

 

-Where would you like to live upon graduating?

Eventually I would like to end up in Denver, Colorado. I think it is absolutely gorgeous up there.

-What would your dream job be?

 My biggest strengths are corporate presenting, public speaking, and technical writing. I would like to create a position for myself that allows me to harness these strengths and combine them with my passion for interacting and engaging with people.

-What is your favorite thing about B/CS?

 My favorite thing about Bryan College Station is the cheap movie tickets. I really love movies and I spend a lot of time down at the cinema. You can’t beat the prices for movie tickets here. Especially compared to my hometown where it costs $12 for a matinee movie ticket.

-What is your favorite restaurant in B/CS?

My favorite restaurant in Bryan College Station? Hmmm…that’s a tough one because I don’t typically eat out. I guess I would go with something like Layne’s that is quick, easy, and local to the area.

– What is a song you can’t stop listening to now?

I really only listen to music when I am working out to pump myself up. I don’t have a favorite song or artist, but when I work out I like to listen to electronic music or metal.

–  What is an interesting fact about yourself?

An interesting fact about myself is that I am a die-hard cat fan. I have an adorable tortoise shell short hair cat named Rolo (because she is black and brown like a caramel chocolate). She is ridiculously social and talkative. She can’t stand not being around people and being the center of attention. She knows her name and will come right to me when I call her. She can do tricks for treats and will play fetch. Ha-ha she is basically a cat-dog.

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Here is Keefer and his cat Rolo.

 

 

 

 

Meet the Intern: Bobbie

Our “Meet the Intern” series continues this week with, Bobbie Cantu! She is a Sports+Events intern here at the CVB. She come from the Rio Grande valley and loves her fighting Texas Aggies and her dog, Oliver. 

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Where are you from?

I am from Weslaco, TX, which is located in deep South Texas, known as the Rio Grande Valley.

-What are you studying?

Right now I am studying Sport Management with a minor in Business Administration. However, I started off as an Animal Science major hoping to become a veterinarian someday, but that quickly changed after my first semester. I realized where my true passion lies and that is with sports and hospitality.

-Why did you choose Texas A&M University?

I originally chose A&M because I wanted to become a veterinarian and of course they have one of the best schools in the country. I was also drawn in by all the traditions and constant kindness around the campus as well as their amazing sports teams!

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Bobbie is a die-hard Aggie! She never misses a chance to cheer on her teams!

-What do you do at the CVB?

I am currently an intern with Bryan College Station Sports + Events for this summer. I work hand-in-hand with the sports staff and assist with planning, preparing and participating in local sporting events for the summer. So far I’ve helped with setup for the Great American Shootout tournament by creating signage and operating ticket sales.   

-What is your favorite sport?

Without a doubt, tennis is my all-time favorite sport.  I have been playing since I was 4 years old along with coaching for the past 6 years. It holds a special place in my life because it’s kind of a family sport in that my dad introduced me to it when I was little and we still go out and play together whenever I go back home and visit.

-Where would you like to live upon graduating?

I would ultimately like to stay in Texas close to home but I’m not opposed to moving if the opportunity presents itself. I am a huge family oriented person and couldn’t bear to be so far away from them for so long.

-What would your dream job be?

My dream job would be to work for USTA (United States Tennis Association) in either their Texas office or headquarters in New York City. I particularly would want to work in either player development or as a director for youth tennis.

-What is your favorite thing about B/CS?

What I love most about Bryan College Station is how small and humble the town is; yet, at the same time it can feel so huge with everything it has to offer. The community is filled with an abundance of generosity and kindness and makes me feel like I’m at home even when I’m away from my family.

-What is your favorite restaurant in B/CS?

To be honest I don’t really have one favorite place to eat, but if I had to choose a restaurant it would most likely be Chuy’s. I am absolutely in love with their burritos and creamy jalapeno dip!

– What is a song you can’t stop listening to now?

So I recently saw the band The 1975 in concert at the beginning of May and I have been listening to their song “The Sound” non-stop ever since! I honestly probably listen to it 4 times a day.

 

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Bobbie & her pup, Oliver!