At first glance, Kaitlyn Kotrla ’25 and Delaney Brown ’25 have parallel stories. Both immersed themselves in 4-H and FFA, engaged in agriculture and had a passion for involvement in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. But below the surface, Kotrla and Brown are on distinct paths powered by the generosity of scholarships.

The pair shared the profound impact of their journeys beyond surface impressions at the recent Brazos County Go Texan Scholarship and Donor Reception, an annual event commemorating raising scholarships for youth connected to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, HLSR. With more than 40 dedicated members, the Brazos County Go Texan committee gave $96,000 to Brazos County students in 2023. Kotrla and Brown spoke about how these funds and the HLSR have changed the trajectory of their lives.

Kaitlyn Kotrla '25 and Delaney Brown '25 stand alongside Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for stakeholder relations and associate dean for student development, at the Brazos County Go Texan Scholarships and Donor Reception. All three are posing with their right thumb up and in front of them. Kotrla wears a pink blazer, black shirt, jeans and boots. Skaggs wears a maroon blazer, white shirt, tan pants and boots. Brown wears a white and tan checkered blazer, black shirt, maroon pants and cream, pointed heels.

Kaitlyn Kotrla ’25 and Delaney Brown ’25 stand alongside Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for stakeholder relations and associate dean for student development, at the Brazos County Go Texan Scholarship and Donor Reception. 

Focusing on the future

Kotrla, a senior in the Department of Poultry Science, is working toward a career in meat science, specifically with H-E-B, where she has worked since she was 16.

“Working there has become somewhat of a family tradition,” Kotrla said. “My cousin and sister worked there before me, and I saw how the values of H-E-B set them up for success in their careers.”

In addition to earning her degree, Kotrla is actively pursuing a Certificate in Meat Science from the Department of Animal Science, all while being involved in the Poultry Science Club, the Meat Science and Technology Association and the Meat Judging Team.

Last summer, she completed an internship in meat marketing with H-E-B, enriching her understanding of how H-E-B’s market strategies prioritize A-plus standards and exceptional customer service. This summer, Kotrla will further expand her industry knowledge through an internship at the H-E-B Meat Plant in San Antonio.

“Between my experiences in service, marketing and meat processing, I’ve gotten to see the behind-the-scenes of what goes into putting meat on grocery shelves,” Kotrla said. “It’s helped me see the importance of every step it takes to get product from producers to consumers.”

Scholarships make a difference

With her ambitious schedule, Kotrla credits the Go Texan Committee with helping make her aspirations a reality.

“Being a student at Texas A&M offers the most incredible opportunities to get involved,” she said. “Without my scholarship from the Go Texan Committee, I wouldn’t be able to do the internships and extracurriculars that have empowered me to see how I can impact the agricultural industry.”

At the reception, Kotrla took the opportunity to personally convey her firsthand experiences to the dedicated volunteers whose generosity fuels her education and extracurricular pursuits.

“It may sound cliché, but scholarships really do change lives,” Kotrla, also a recipient of the Terry Foundation Scholarship, said. “When students can focus more on their future and less on finances, they can dream bigger.”

Kotrla has been continuously motivated by her family and faculty during her time as a student.

“I have always looked up to my parents for how hard they work to support my sister and me. They always encourage me to test my limits and never give up,” she said. “My meat judging coach, Jennifer Wyle, has also played an important role in my life. She taught me the definition of tough love and sacrifice. Without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am grateful that I decided to let her guide me toward knowing that success in life isn’t just about winning; it’s about the people and community we create along the way.”

Kotrla plans to pursue a career in the corporate sector of H-E-B, a company she said has created a culture reminiscent of her experiences at Texas A&M.

“The values upheld by the company closely mirror what it means to be an Aggie,” she said. “The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has given me a community that I can rely on, and thankfully, H-E-B is a place where I can continue surrounding myself with good people to do great things. I’m grateful my scholarships have allowed me to experience internships and experiences that I would not have been able to pursue otherwise.”

Coffee beans, buckles and banners

Raised in Seminole, just 80 miles south of Lubbock and 30 miles east of New Mexico, Brown grew up showing livestock. Her dad, a cotton seed salesman, introduced her to her path in agriculture.

In junior high school, she started competing in contests and expanding her reach to more leadership-focused activities. In 2021, Brown was selected as the Texas FFA state vice president for her area, and shortly after, she began her freshman year as a student in the Department of Animal Science.

When Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for stakeholder relations and associate dean for student development, called Brown to offer a chance to speak at the reception, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to share how generous donors made her successes possible.

“He asked me to speak on how the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has helped open doors for me,” she explained. “I told him I could talk about that all day long.”

Brown’s background with the HLSR began as a young swine exhibitor, dreaming of a buckle and banner embellished with the iconic “H.” Her first taste of success came when she won the Veterinary Science Contest in 2019. As a state officer, Brown added to her collection with a state officer buckle donated by the HLSR.

Looking toward a career in agricultural sales, Brown said she keeps her agricultural educator’s advice at the forefront of her mind. “My ag teacher, Chad Brown, always said that I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” she added with a laugh. “I’ve always been the type of person to chase after my dreams. He taught me to dream bigger.”

Throughout her year as a state officer, Brown carried cards inside her FFA jacket that said, “Make endless mistakes, but never make the same mistake twice.” For Brown, every mistake or “no” she has ever received has served as a catalyst for growth and learning. During her speech, she shared these sentiments and the power of “embodying the coffee bean.”

Inspired by her mentors Bruce and Marty Cobb, Brown shared how we should all strive to seep goodness into those around you like coffee beans.

Ironically, Brown is not a coffee drinker herself, but she knows the concept will guide her to a life of giving back to those who have given to her. She has already begun pursuing being the “coffee bean,” as she will serve the HLSR for three weeks as an intern in the main office. She will handle room assignments, answer questions, deliver lunches, sort banners and act as the “right-hand” to staff.

“Houston has been a coffee bean for me,” Brown said. “Regardless of where my future takes me, I hope to always be a coffee bean for others.”

When sharing these stories at the reception, Brown had an unlikely encounter with a past FFA state officer who was similarly impacted.

“After I spoke, he approached me and told me how Houston changed everything for him, and now he takes every opportunity he can to give back,” Brown said. “It was a special full-circle moment that helped me see how these scholarships make a difference long after college.”

To learn more about the Brazos County Go Texan committee and how you can support students like Kaitlyn Kotrla ’24 and Delaney Brown ’25, visit their website at

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