25 Years of First Impressions

By: Caitlin Powers

They call her Miss Charlene. She is the smiling lady who always has candy and good advice at her desk, sitting at the front door of the Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications Department.

Texas A&M’s ALEC department is known for having a warm, family atmosphere. Lead Office Associate Charlene Boggus is one of the main contributors to that environment.

“She is the face of the ALEC department,” said Jonathan Howell, a former student of the department and current Academic Adviser in the department. “She is the first person people see when they come in.”

Boggus has been with the department for 25 years. She has seen it grow from a one-major department with three undergrad faculty and fewer than 300 students to now more than a thousand students and countless faculty with four majors, she said.

Boggus said she has seen a lot of students come through the department and now she is seeing some of those students’ children come through the department. Megan Wright is one of them. “Her father was a student worker in the department the semester I started,” Boggus said. Wright was born that semester and is now an employee in the department, about to get married.

“She is always so happy, and she is always smiling,” Wright said.

Boggus’ is often the first impression of the department because of her desk’s location.

Bethanie Yeaman, now a graduate student in the department, said Boggus was one of the reasons she transferred into the ALEC program. Yeaman said Boggus was so polite and helpful and the first to greet her when she came to visit the ALEC department about transferring in.

“I felt like I found my spot,” Yeaman said.

During Boggus’ service to the department she has received numerous awards including the President’s Meritorious Service Award and the Dr. John J. Koldus Advisor Award in 2009 and the Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence in 2002. Boggus was a Fish Camp Namesake in 1999 after being nominated by students in the department.

However, Boggus does not do it for the recognition. Her recognition is in the product of the people she has impacted; her legacy is in the lives of those students who have benefitted from her benevolence and compassion.

“Miss Charlene is somebody who keeps students from being just a number on a roster, she sees them as people with a purpose for being there and with the potential to succeed,” said, Assistant Professor Jen Williams, Ph.D., who received both her bachelor’s and master’s in the department.

One of these students is Cassidy Peek, who received her bachelor’s in the department and is now working on her master’s. Peek said Boggus is an informal mentor for many students, and a champion for their causes.

“We look to her for advice on everything from résumé writing to relationships,” Peek said, “the magic of her influence in our lives is that she pushes us to reach our true potential without becoming a crutch.”

When asked about her favorite part of the job, Boggus is quick to point to those who she thinks matter the most. “The students,” Boggus said, “because you are young and exciting and I can help you.”

“Thanks to Miss Charlene, we learn so much more than facts and figures during our time as students at Texas A&M,” Peek said.

“She does not need PowerPoint presentations or weekly quizzes to ensure that these lessons will stick with us, because she teaches by example,” Peek said.

For 25 years, Boggus has impacted the lives of the students who have walked up to her desk, through caring and kindness. From first impressions to life lessons, she remains a key fixture in the ALEC family.

Boggus was raised in Brazoria County, and earned an Associate’s degree from Brazosport College. She married Tom Boggus, now the director of the Texas A&M Forest Service, in 1980. Together they have one son, Chris Boggus, who lives in Waco with his wife, Becky. Miss Charlene will become a grandmother soon. Chris and Becky are expecting a baby girl.

Caitlin Powers is a junior agricultural communications and journalism major.

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