Kaden Simon ’25 knows what it’s like to navigate the first year of college. It brims with thrilling opportunities and newfound friendships, but also comes with the challenges of navigating independence from family, tackling demanding coursework and charting a career and life path.

Having experienced it himself, he decided to make it his mission to pay it forward to future Texas A&M Aggies. Over the past two years, Simon has dedicated himself to serving as a peer mentor for AGLS 125, the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ iteration of Hullabaloo U.

Kaden Simon '26, recipient of the Hullabaloo-U Peer Mentor of the Year award, leans against a brick wall while wearing a grey suit and blue button-down shirt.
Kaden Simon ’25 received the Hullabaloo-U Peer Mentor of the Year award for his exceptional leadership and dedication to freshmen at Texas A&M University. (Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife)

At Texas A&M University, the Hullabaloo U course serves as a beacon to guide first-year students through this transition. It arms students with the tools to meet academic and personal milestones, tap into campus resources, foster community and cultivate a sense of belonging within the Aggie family.

With intimate class sizes capped at 25 students per section, Aggies benefit from personalized support and mentorship. Faculty and staff instructors, alongside upperclassman peer mentors, serve as invaluable guides, offering a wealth of resources and wisdom. Across campus, a network of over 650 peer mentors stands ready to assist Aggies in their journey.

Each year, one exceptional mentor earns the title of Hullabaloo U Peer Mentor of the Year — a testament to their profound impact on first-year students.

Amidst stiff competition of over 100 other nominees, Simon, a student in the Department of Animal Science, emerged as the deserving recipient of this prestigious award for his dedication to serving first-year students in the College.

Mentorship inspired by others

His journey into mentoring was sparked when an upperclassman from the Saddle and Sirloin Club, a networking group for livestock enthusiasts and agriculture advocates, reached out to him.

Reflecting on the encounter, Simon said, “One of the club officers approached me after our first meeting. She took the time to connect with each freshman, ensuring we felt welcomed and part of the community. Her gesture inspired me to make a meaningful impact on freshmen.”

For the past two years, Simon has been under the guidance of Lisa Whittlesey, senior program specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and his instructor for AGLS 125.

A herd of multi-color goats graze a lush green pasture in Texas.

“From the moment I met Kaden, it was evident that he would be an exceptional peer mentor. I speak for our entire class when I say we are profoundly grateful to have had Kaden as both a mentor and friend.”

Truett Marrs ’27

Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications student

Whittlesey commended Simon’s innate ability to recognize when new students may need extra support.

“Kaden is incredibly perceptive,” she said. “He notices when students appear disengaged or unwell and takes the initiative to reach out to them individually. He possesses a rare gift for making every mentee feel valued and supported, both personally and academically. Kaden’s commitment to fostering community and aiding others runs deep.”

As a peer mentor, Simon consistently went above and beyond to tailor the course to meet the diverse needs of his students. From establishing interactive group chats to arranging guest speakers and organizing a student panel comprising upperclassmen from seven different majors within the College, he handled all logistical aspects of the class meticulously — from parking arrangements to preparing gifts for speakers and encouraging personalized thank-you notes from his mentees.

A field of corn with a barn in the distance

“Kaden had a profound and lasting impact on me. His leadership motivated me to seek similar opportunities and become a peer mentor myself.”

Avery Cammack ’27

Department of Animal Science student

Whittlesey praised Simon’s unwavering dedication to helping others.

“Kaden’s exemplary level of commitment, accountability, and his willingness to consistently exceed expectations are qualities I rarely encounter among students or employees,” she said.

Proof is in the peers

While Whittlesey has observed Simon’s dedication, it’s the students in his courses who truly feel its impact. To illustrate his influence, Whittlesey solicited feedback from students in Simon’s class, and the responses were overwhelmingly positive. Each student contacted expressed heartfelt gratitude and admiration for Simon, underscoring his commitment to ensuring every Aggie feels supported.

This fall, Simon will embark on his third year as a peer mentor before earning a degree in animal science, with aspirations of studying veterinary medicine upon graduation.

“I crossed paths with Kaden at a Howdy Week event long before I knew he would be my peer mentor. In our very first conversation, I felt College Station become my new home.”

Davis Nix ’27

Department of Animal Science student

“While it’s bittersweet that this will be my final year as a peer mentor, I’ve come to realize that mentorship and fostering a sense of support in others are passions I’ll carry for life,” Simon said. “Winning this award is an honor, but it serves as a reminder that my mission is to cultivate community and uplift individuals, wherever my path may lead me next.”

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