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A Newsworthy Gift

When Ashley and Ryan Brus ’04 dove into the Texas A&M Foundation's February Spirit of Sharing newsletter, they had no idea that they were writing the next chapter of their own story.

By Anna Cairns ’20

The Brus pose for a photo at a Texas A&M Football game.

High school sweethearts Ashley and Ryan Brus ’04 hope their planned gift will inspire growth in the university’s journalism program.

Someday, budding Aggie journalists will credit their success to Ashley and Ryan Brus ’04. And if they master the art of investigative reporting, they will learn that the story of their success all began with high school sweethearts and a Texas A&M Foundation newsletter.

This is not your typical Aggie love story. While the Bruses currently bleed maroon, their love for each other came before their devotion to Texas A&M. Their relationship began during high school in their hometown of San Antonio, and although Ashley did not attend Texas A&M University, she was along for the ride with her Aggie sweetheart Ryan.

After earning their college degrees—Ashley in education and Ryan in journalism—the couple returned to San Antonio before Ryan pursued a public affairs career that moved them to Fort Knox, Kentucky, in 2007. Ryan’s career with the Fort Knox Public Affairs Office continues to grow, and Ashley—who began teaching kindergarten in 2005—now works as an assistant principal at a local elementary school. Although they’re far from Aggieland, the couple stays involved in the Aggie community through the Kentuckiana Texas A&M Club, of which Ryan is vice president.

The Scoop
This past February, the Bruses read the Foundation’s Spirit of Sharing newsletter, and their wheels started turning. Although they are younger than most to start thinking about estate planning, the newsletter’s stories opened their eyes to the flexibility that planned giving offers. When they sat down to discuss their legacy, Texas A&M was a natural choice for the place to leave an impact. “Since we don’t have children, we must decide where our legacy is going to lie and what is most important to us,” Ashley shared.

The young couple partnered with the Foundation’s planned giving team to determine the best way to impact their on-campus passions. One-quarter of their gift will benefit The Gardens at Texas A&M, an idea inspired by a 2018 visit that wowed the couple. The other three-quarters will be split to inspire continued growth in the university’s journalism program. The Ashley and Ryan Brus ’04 Excellence Endowment will be used at the discretion of the communication department head to support journalism faculty, students and programs at Texas A&M, while the Ashley and Ryan Brus ’04 Journalism Scholarship will support undergraduate students seeking a journalism degree, with a preference for Aggies from Bexar County.

“The journalism department gave so much to me,” Ryan explained. “I attribute so much of my success to my Texas A&M experience and the guidance I received from my professors. This personal connection inspired our decision to plan an excellence endowment so that the Department of Communication can support faculty to give future students similar educational opportunities.”

Happily Ever Aggies
Unlike cash gifts, funds for planned gifts are distributed after the donor’s lifetime. This makes planned giving an ideal choice for younger individuals, like Ashley and Ryan, who want to give back while still balancing their own financial needs during their lifetimes.

“We want to enjoy our retirement, but in the end, we also want to create opportunities for future students,” Ashley said.

“This was such an easy process for us,” Ryan added. “People think they need an astronomical amount of money to make a planned gift, but after going through the gift process myself, I can say that’s not true. Every bit counts. For all the Aggies who want to make a gift but don’t know how, I encourage you to contact the Foundation and find out more about your options. There are so many meaningful ways to give back to a university that’s given so much to you.”

Originally published here by The Texas A&M Foundation.