First Thursday, February 5th with Sue Redman ’80 and Molly Underwood ‘99

The WFSN had another fabulous First Thursday event at Messina Hof last week.  Our guest speakers, Sue Redman ’80 and Molly Underwood ’99, spoke about the history of women at A&M, the history of the WFSN and 8 ways to get/stay involved with the WFSN.  Read on to hear what they said.

“We had the distinct honor of presenting a history of women at A&M, the history of the WFSN and what it means to us.” – Sue Redman ’80 and Molly Underwood ’99.

Many former students and current students were on hand to hear Sue’s and Molly’s remarks. In attendance were student representatives of Aggie Financial Women’s Association (AFWA) and a new organization, yet to be named of women from the Bush School.

History of Women at A&M

In 1963 President Earl Rudder announced that women were to be admitted into graduate programs at Texas A&M University and by the spring semester, 183 women were enrolled. Some of the first women to enroll were required to sign a contract stating that they would withdraw if the new policy was withdrawn.  By 1966, women were admitted into all graduate and undergraduate programs – and we haven’t looked back. In fact, female student represent 47.6% of all students enrolled in the fall semester of 2014, which is just short of the national average of 56.8% of female students enrolled in universities across the country.


This is the page from the 1963 Yearbook that portrayed women in a question mark – asking if women would last at A&M. Sally Sheppard’s photo is circled.

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In 2014, she would become the 3rd female to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Molly listed some of the “Aggie Women Firsts:” in 1981 the first woman on a full athletic scholarship (Linda Cornelius Waltman ’79) and first woman to command a Battalion in the Corps of Cadets (Doriot Mascarich ’81) and in 2002 the first woman president of the 12th Man Foundation (Carrie Wells ’84) and in 2008, the first woman drum major in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Bank (Samantha Kropp ’10).

 History of the WFSN

Sue then discussed the history of the WFSN.  The Women Former Students’ Network was formed in 2008 in the year of the 45th anniversary that women were admitted to the University.  The WFSN was formed to eradicate the question:  “Where are all the women former students?”  In 2008, only one woman had ever received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, very few women former students were receiving the Outstanding Alumni from their Colleges and very few women were receiving teaching or researching awards.  There were few women on the Texas A&M Board of Regents or 12th Man Foundation and no women on the Texas A&M Foundation Board.


In 2014, women comprised 156,000 or 71% of the total living former students. The 1990’s and 2000’s saw the greatest growth in percentage of women enrolled at Texas A&M.

In 2007, a survey was sent to women former students asking them what might interest them to connect or reconnect with the University.  Their responses indicated they would be interested in meeting with students and participating in a scholarly activity with women faculty.   In summary, the overwhelming response by these women former students was they wanted to “give back to Texas A&M University.”

Thus the WFSN was formed with its mission of enhancing the excellence of Texas A&M University by promoting the active engagement of women in the educational, charitable, and cultural life of the institution.  In January/February 2008, an article, entitled A Deeper Connection, was published in the Texas Aggie that announced the formation of the WFSN.  The floodgates opened with correspondence from the women former student community expressing interest and support for the organization.

Sue discussed some of the accomplishments made by the WFSN in its first 7 years:

  • Established a 45 Women Endowment and raised and funded 2 President’s Endowed Scholarship for two women students
  • Nominated two of our members (Glenda Mariott ’79 and Sally Sheppard ’63) and they received the Distinguished Alumnus Award
  • The WFSN has been instrumental in getting several of our members appointed to their College Advisory Councils and have received Outstanding Alumni awards from their colleges

8 Ways to Give Back

Sue and Molly concluded their remarks by listing 8 ways to get involved with the WFSN, as it begins its 8th year:

  1. Become a WFSN Member/Renew Membership
  2. Join a Committee
  3. Come to First Thursdays at Messina Hof
  4. Become a Mentor
  5. Become an Aggie Expert
  6. Donate to WFSN initiatives that support students and faculty
  7. Introduce a woman Aggie to the WFSN
  8. Bring a woman student to a First Thursday

Join us at the next First Thursday at Messina Hof on March 5th to hear Judy LeUnes ’76 speak about “Birth Order and Success.”

Gig ‘em Aggie Women!

Women Former Students’ Network







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February 5th First Thursday at Messina Hof with K. Sue Redman ’80 and Molly Underwood ’99.

Sue Redman 1.2015molly-Bio







Join Sue Redman ’80, WFSN Co-Founder and Molly Underwood ’99, current President of WFSN, for an inspiring and delightful history of the creation of the Women’s Former Student Network at Texas A&M University.  Now in its 8th year, Sue and Molly will share the “8” ways in which you can get involved with the WFSN.

Do you have an interest in

  • Meeting with and mentoring female students?
  • Participating in scholarly activity with women faculty?
  • Conducting a master class for students in your professional field?
  • Being a guest speaker in the classroom?
  • Finding your own unique way to “Giving Back”?

This is the gathering for you.  Like so many other fabulous Aggie Women, you reflect one of Texas A&M’s core values – Selfless Service.

Since its launch in 2008, the year of the 45th anniversary that women were admitted to Texas A&M University, WFSN has been dedicated to its mission “to enhance the excellence of Texas A&M University by promoting the active engagement of women in the educational, charitable and cultural life of the institution.”

Sue and Molly will share some of the accomplishments made by the WFSN as well as some personal stories, “ah ha” moments, and reasons for their significant involvement in the WFSN.

Meet us February 5, 2015 at Messina Hof Winery and Resort Winebar; 5:30-7:30 pm.  There is no charge to attend.  For more information call about the event 979-778-9463 ext. 244.

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January 8th First Thursday at Messina Hof with Vana Stiller ’88

Learning to Lead Requires First Learning to Follow

Join us this Thursday, January 8th at Messina Hof where Vana Stiller ’88 will be our hostess on a most fun and unusual exercise – learning a ballroom dance.

On the surface it sounds like a purely social event.  But in reality it is an opportunity to learn the basics of leadership from the leader’s perspective and from the follower’s perspective.  We will learn the art of silent communication and interpretation.

Wine social is at 5:30 at the Messina Hof Winebar.  At 6 pm we will move to the Gallery for the dance lesson with professional instructor Ray Garcia.

In these days of endless conferences, webinars, seminars, classes, etc. about leadership, we often miss the foundational requirement of a good leader – how to follow.  How do you rate as a follower?  Find out for yourself in a fun and healthy way.

Vana’s post on the upcoming event:

Vana StillerI am Vana Stiller ’88, BBA Management, and I challenge you.  Professional dance instructor Ray Garcia of Brazos Ballroom Dance is building a dance club in Bryan-College Station.  It meets each week at Messina Hof and has grown from a few couples casually learning to dance to members who are actually competing on the dancefloor professionally.  We invite you to join us.

Dancing is habit forming.  My husband (Peter) and I have been taking ballroom dance lessons for over three years now all because we wanted to add a little fun to our lives.  Now we are addicted to dancing and are always trying to improve.

Dancing is a partnership and both parties are responsible for what happens on the dance floor.  One partner must be a good leader and the other must be a good follower.  Both positions take discipline.  Following is not passive.  There are active rules and needs of followers just as there are for leaders.  In order to be a good leader, you must understand and successfully practice what it takes to be a good follower.

It also requires an intuitive silent communication between lead and follower.  At first, as a follower, you think you are supposed to somehow be a mind reader and just know what the lead is doing and wanting you to do.  Over time, you learn to be patient, to “listen”, and to focus on the slight movement of your lead.  With every new dance partner you have to make adjustments to make sure you are communicating and interpreting.  Once the flow of communication is going you are dancing in silent communication.

I am so glad that we did not pass up the opportunity to take dance lessons.  It has been hard work but so rewarding.  We have persevered and we improve with each step we take while doing something we never thought we could do and loving it.  You are never too old to learn and everyone needs a little dance in his or her life.

Anyone wanting information about classes can contact Ray Garcia at 979-255-7211 or Vana Stiller at 979-777-6450. The website is

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Lynn Purnell Hagan ’77, 2010 Legacy Award Recipient and WFSN member


Lynn Hagan

1: Lynn Purnell Hagan ’77, 2010 Legacy Award Recipient and WFSN member

If you like what you read here, come and join me at the WFSN First Thursday, December 4 at Messina Hof Wine Bar from 5:30 to 7:30 (half price glasses of wine!) to hear more of this story. Bring a friend (they don’t have to be Aggies…or women!)

I pick up my story in the year 2001. It was a banner year. I closed my successful psychotherapy office in Louisiana to move to, of all places, Kuwait. I can honestly say, and Don will attest to this, I did not want to go. I was shutting down what I had worked toward for 5 years of grad school. On the other hand, how could I not move to Kuwait? What a challenge and what an adventure. I had no idea how much of a challenge and adventure it would become.

Fast forward to June when I arrived in Kuwait. Living on a compound next to the Saudi border, was not idyllic, to say the least. Bored and with little to do, I contemplated abandoning this misadventure and heading home. Fast forward to September 11.


2: Entrance to Saudi Arabian Texaco Compound

Five miles from the Saudi border. On the banks of the Arabian (no, not Persian) Gulf. I asked Don, “What is going to happen to us?” The world for everyone was turned upside down. But living in a Saudi compound, thousands of miles from home, put a different spin on things. Things would no longer be boring. I would no longer be bored.

Shortly after the attacks, the Medical Unit of the US Embassy in Kuwait contacted me. The medical officer told me I was the only western psychotherapist in the country and he needed me to come to the embassy to discuss some cases. Heck ya. I am all over that!


3: Approach to US Embassy in Kuwait

The case was a high level security individual, a US citizen, who had a terror plan of his own – borne out of his heretofore undiagnosed PTSD. We began the process of sending him home for his, and national, security. Other cases presented themselves soon after. A suicide pact among local American students who wanted to be sent home. Humanitarians who were being evacuated from Iraq who witnessed and experienced such horrors, I will not elaborate here. These were some of the cases I handled at the embassy.


At the same time the embassy was contacting me, I received a call from The Scientific Center of Kuwait, a science education complex comprised of an IMAX theatre, a hands-on science center, and the largest aquarium in the Middle East. Long story short here, I became the director of Discovery Place and Education – managing a cadre of Kuwaiti nationals and international staff. Wow.

scientific center

4: The Scientific Center of Kuwait

Way to Work

5: On my way to work

Kuwait is a small country…about the size of Connecticut. I drove about ½ way – one way – every day going to work. Now, add to these events, terror attacks across the country and the military buildup. I drove past check points and tanks, and burned out cars. I met personnel at a mix of locales, including barricaded hotels. That was the milieu. Social work colleagues in the USA told me that I should not do it. It was putting myself too much at risk. My thought – how could I not? People were in need of help and I felt it would be unethical not to make myself available. So, I did it. Time after time. Day after day.

As a result, it gave me an experience beyond anything I could have imagined. We spend 6 years in Kuwait. Having been assigned a war zone, it was time for Chevron to send us to a more favorable post – Scotland!

Watching PartyScotland was far less exciting albeit much more beautiful. After being there a couple of years we took on the task of the local Aggie Club. We hosted three Musters and had a couple of special outings and football game viewings (a couple of days after the games). We made it into the Texas Aggie Magazine many times…you probably saw us!

Great stories you say. But what does this have to do with Aggie Women and Aggie Values? Aggie Core Values go beyond what we can do for our school. It must transcend into the world at large. Scotland enabled me to be a good Ag and host Musters and get-togethers. Kuwait enabled me to be a world citizen embodying selfless service, cultural respect, integrity, and excellence. For me, I have reworked an old adage, turning it into “Think locally but act globally.” Now, Aggie Women, it’s your turn! Gig ‘Em!!

January’s First Thursday for WFSN will be January 8, 5:30-7:30, at Messina Hof Wine Bar. Come join us as we learn more about leading and following – and learn a new dance step. We hope to see you there…oh, yes…and bring a friend!

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