Just before beginning high school, Jade Williams ’24 moved from the bustling city of Dallas to Normangee, a transition her mother saw as an opportunity for their family to embrace rural living. With aspirations to pursue art, Williams mapped out her class schedule. However, upon discovering that all art-related courses were at capacity, she decided to take a chance and enroll in an agricultural education course instead.

“As I walked into the first day of Introduction to Agriculture, wearing black skinny jeans and sporting blue hair, I realized I had no idea about anything related to agriculture,” Williams said. “But my ag teachers didn’t flinch. They welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to join FFA. It turned out to be the best leap of faith I’ve ever taken.”

A woman in a green dress sits in front of the Texas A&M University football field. Jade Williams '24 has taken advantage of the opportunities in Aggieland.
Jade Williams ’24 found a love for agriculture and service through her involvement in student government and other opportunities at Texas A&M University. (Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife)

Fashion faux pas to agricultural advocacy

Williams’ initial exposure to agriculture came through a local livestock judging competition, an event she found herself attending after her teacher promised Whataburger during the bus ride back from the contest. To prepare, she embarked on a shopping trip to the Cavender’s clearance rack.

“I stumbled upon a less-than-fashionable paisley button-down and a pair of boot-cut jeans,” she said. “When I arrived for the bus, my teachers were certainly taken aback by the change in attire.”

Williams soon realized what she was wearing paled in significance compared to her passion for public speaking and agricultural advocacy. She engaged in various National FFA Organization competitions and assumed multiple leadership roles and discovered a profound connection to the agricultural industry.

As high school drew to a close, Williams dreamed of attending Texas A&M University, drawn by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. However, upon receiving her acceptance letter, her elation was tinged with apprehension about finances.

“I wanted to go more than anything,” she said. “But I understood that financial constraints might get in the way of my aspirations. I knew I had to work hard to make my dream of attending Texas A&M a reality.”

Scholarships, opportunities and hard work

Williams began applying for as many scholarships as she could while juggling part-time jobs and maintaining stellar academic performance, all while remaining actively involved in her student council, FFA and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Through her FFA adviser, she discovered the Terry Foundation, a prestigious full-ride scholarship program. Williams had doubts about her chances of receiving such a prestigious, competitive scholarship and tempered her expectations.

“I never imagined I’d become a Terry Scholar,” she admitted. “I’ll never forget interviewing over a Zoom call during the peak of the pandemic. They informed us it would be two weeks before we received a decision.”

Just three days later, an email arrived that changed everything for her.

“I had just returned home from school, ready to head to my shift at the feed store,” she said. “I burst into my mom’s room and said, ‘We did it! My dream of attending Texas A&M is coming true. I’m ready to make an impact, and it’s happening without the burden of multiple jobs and financial strain.’ That day was the first — and only — time I’ve ever been late for a work shift.”

Honoring her supporters

As a double major in Agricultural Leadership and Development and Agricultural Communications and Journalism within the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications, Williams effectively managed her time from the moment she set foot on campus.

She arrived at Texas A&M motivated to honor the scholarship that allowed her the college experience without the need for full- or part-time jobs. Williams immersed herself in various student and campus-related organizations. These included the Memorial Student Center’s Student Conference on National Affairs, Texas A&M Taekwondo and the 12th Can, a student-run food pantry aiding students, faculty and staff in need.

Among her commitments, Williams said her involvement in the student senate has been particularly impactful. Here, she served as a representative for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, contributed to the legislative relations committee, and assumed the role of rules and regulations chair. In this capacity, she oversaw parliamentary procedure for bi-weekly meetings and managed a comprehensive 200-page student government code.

Additionally, Williams completed internships with esteemed organizations such as the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Cattlemen’s Congress, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and the Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Internship Program, where she worked under U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions. Most recently, she served as a media intern with Rodeo Houston, conducting interviews with rodeo athletes and students, leading to the publication of seven articles, several of which were picked up by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“I’m driven to make the most of my time here and to serve as an example for students like me who faced challenges growing up,” she said. “I’ve been fortunate to have incredible support. They encourage me to strive for excellence, forge connections and leave a lasting impact.”

Aggie dreams, global vision

From her initial hesitations in skinny jeans to realizing her Aggie dreams, Williams epitomizes seizing every opportunity afforded to her.

Post-graduation, Williams intends to pursue advanced studies in international agriculture, guided by her commitment to serving the industry that has molded her identity.

“My passion for agricultural communications will forever remain at the heart of whatever I do,” she said. “Whether advocating for the agricultural sector or engaging in international relations, I’m dedicated to feeding the next generation.”

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