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Cadet tackles the odds

All students who attend Texas A&M have unique challenges as they navigate through college. Aaron Zajac '20, who has autism, had to overcome and adapt more so than most, and has flourished as a member of the Corps of Cadets.

Audrey Mayes ’20, Texas A&M Corps of Cadets

Texas A&M University is one of the best schools in the country – a challenging academic institution for anyone who attends. All students who attend Texas A&M must learn to develop time management skills, critical thinking, and comprehensive study skills. They must also learn to forge lifelong friendships while participating in the “Aggie experience,” and learning the unique traditions that make Texas A&M so special. Some students, though, have more on their plate than others. Aaron Zajac, class of 2020, is a student that stands out among the rest. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a December 2019 graduate, and has Autism.

“I have learned that the only constant in life is change, and you have to learn how to adapt and overcome,” says Aaron.

Aaron Zajac always knew he wanted to go to Texas A&M. His Aggie story starts with his parents. His mother, class of ‘92 and an avid Aggie football fan, raised Aaron to be an Aggie. She always talked about the great traditions at Texas A&M and instilled in him the core values for which Aggies are known. His father, a Colonel in the U.S. Army, was a big contributor to Aaron’s decision to join the Corps of Cadets. Zajac’s childhood dream was to join the military.

When Aaron applied to Texas A&M University, he was aware of the struggles that he would face as a student and a cadet. His intentions for attending Texas A&M to pursue a college degree were not completely self-serving. He aspires to open doors for others with Autism so they do not have to endure the same challenges he had to overcome.

As a History major, Aaron studied the cause and effect relationship of leadership decisions. Coupled with the experience that he gained through his leadership development in the Corps, he achieved the level of confidence in his leadership abilities and ability to inspire others that serves as a goal for all senior cadets. According to Aaron, the biggest lesson he learned during his time at A&M is that change is inevitable. “I have learned that the only constant in life is change, and you have to learn how to adapt and overcome,” says Aaron. He grew a lot since his freshman year in the Corps. His social life flourished, and he went from hiding out in his room to enjoying time with his fellow cadets.

Aaron was a member of Company A2, and served as the outfit’s Scholastic Officer and a Platoon Leader. Zajac is very self-aware and readily admits that his biggest challenge is communication. Through his Corps experience, he learned a lot about communication skills and found that people were always willing to work with him. Says Aaron of his time in the Corps, “Everyone has their own battle, but the Corps will help you overcome it.”

Aaron believes that his greatest accomplishment during his time at Texas A&M was remaining on the Dean’s list throughout the entirety of his academic career. Graduating college is an outstanding accomplishment; graduating a semester early is even more impressive. It is a true testament to Aaron Zajac’s determination and perseverance.

For Aaron Zajac, graduating from Texas A&M meant far more than just receiving a diploma. His goal when entering Texas A&M was to further his education in hopes that he would one day be able to assist those who share in the same struggles that he has experienced as an individual with Autism.

After crossing the stage in his senior boots to receive his diploma, Aaron began yet another new chapter in his life. Aaron is attending Pepperdine University where he will pursue graduate studies towards a certification in Behavioral Analysis. He plans to use this certificate to help others with disabilities, including those on the Autism spectrum and veterans facing challenges of their own. When asked what advice Aaron has for those who have Autism, he says, “It is worth it—the struggles and challenges. They’re all meant to make you a better person.”

Originally posted here