Yanelly Guerrero is living her very own Cinderella story at Texas A&M. Guerrero, a master’s student in educational technology, is a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band and has a pair of senior boots to call her own, thanks to Dr. Norvella Carter, professor of urban education.
When Dr. Carter first came to Texas A&M, the senior boots caught her attention. She wanted to know more about the tradition and what they stood for. She said, once she learned the history of the boots, she had a great deal of respect for them and for the Corps. When she met Guerrero, that respect grew. “When I met Yanelly, I saw that she embodied the spirit of all that. I was just so happy to be able to contribute to her in a special way.”
Guerrero and Dr. Carter were on a study abroad trip to Tanzania when Dr. Carter first learned that she was not able to purchase her own senior boots and was borrowing a pair. After seeing Guerrero’s leadership skills and her ability to serve as a mentor to other students, Dr. Carter knew she had to find a way to help.
“I was in shock. I didn’t know how to react,” recalls Guerrero. “Now I have this pair of boots, and they’re mine. They remind me of A&M, our spirit. It reminds me of the Corps, my experiences, the opportunities and the people I’ve met.”
Guerrero admits to not knowing much about Texas A&M before she visited campus during spring break of her senior year. “I started learning more about the traditions, the students, the faculty and how we’re an Aggie family and we’re not just numbers – they actually care about us.”
Once Guerrero decided coming to Texas A&M was the right choice, she had to have a difficult conversation with her father. She said, before she even got accepted, he told her she was not going to leave. “One day, we sat down together and I told him I applied and got accepted. He was very hesitant at first, then after a while, he said ‘okay, you can go.’”
Guerrero said she would not be where she is today without the support of her parents, family and mentors like Dr. Carter and her high school advisor, Mrs. Alexandra Rodriguez. “I told her I really didn’t think I should apply at Texas A&M and I would just go to the community college,” said Guerrero. “She told me to go for it because I had nothing to lose.” That is advice she is sharing with other prospective students who may be dealing with a similar situation. “There are so many people out there who can help you along the way – mentors, advisors, teachers and professors – they are there for us and they love to help students. Don’t be afraid to go out and follow your dreams.”
After Guerrero completes her master’s degree, she plans to join the United States Air Force. She credits her experience with the Corps in giving her a selfless heart. “No one in my family has ever been in the military, so before coming to a military university, I had never been exposed to something like this. Now I know what goes behind it and how selfless and how loving people are. That’s what I want to do for others.”
That attitude is why Dr. Carter said she stepped in to make a difference in Guerrero’s life. “I have a son who was a captain in the army, a daughter in the army and a lot of family in the military, so I respect leadership. I love our country and Yanelly loves her country and wants to serve her country and I admire that to the hilt."