For the first time, the “First Lady of Aggieland” is being cared for by a woman.
Sophomore Mia Miller, 19, is the first woman mascot corporal, whose role is to take care of Reveille, Texas A&M University’s beloved collie. Last year Miller was among the first women to join Company E-2, the Corps of Cadets’ mascot company, upon its gender integration.
For Miller, joining the Corps of Cadets was somewhat of a surprise in itself. The Waco native earned a Marine Corps ROTC scholarship, which at A&M means joining the military-style training organization. Having originally thought the Corps was all-male, Miller says she didn’t fully grasp the scope of the organization until her freshman year began in fall 2017.
When it came time to choose a unit, Miller’s military adviser steered her in the direction of E-2. Her initial reaction was, “Oh, I don’t know if it’s going to be good for my goal [of joining the Marines],” Miller said. “I wanted an academic and physical challenge, and thought, ‘That sounds like the school spirit outfit.’”
Miller said she quickly learned, though, that E-2 would be a challenge. The traditionally male outfit has a high standard for physical training, she said, and the women are expected to keep pace with the men.
And then there was Reveille IX. Miller, who doesn’t come from a family of Aggies and wasn’t familiar with all of the school’s many traditions, didn’t immediately know about the mascot’s significance.
Getting to know her peers in E-2 and reading through articles about Reveille helped Miller understand “how big of a deal she is to everybody on campus.”
“The more I learned about the tradition and what it means to the university, the more I wanted to be part of it,” she said.
Each year, a sophomore is selected to handle Reveille after what Miller describes as effectively a yearlong tryout. Doing well in uniform and keeping up with room standards and grades are important factors before the weeks-long trial in the spring to choose a new mascot corporal.
Miller studied the former Reveilles for a week each, poring over articles about her at the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives before writing essays, taking quizzes and giving speeches about each mascot.
After weeks of hard work, Miller was selected by E-2 upperclassmen to be Reveille’s newest handler.
“It was just shocking to me that I got picked, just because you’re wanting to impress your upperclassmen the whole year with everything you’re doing. … I guess they just saw me working hard most of the year, and that’s why they picked me,” Miller said.
Miller’s parents — Texas Tech alums who had previously joked with their daughter about needing to put a large Tech sign in their front yard if she was selected to handle Reveille — got to hand her the leash in April. Since then, Miller has jumped into the day-to-day responsibilities of looking after Reveille.
Weekly trips to the groomer, daily training and multiple appearances at events are all part of Reveille’s — and Miller’s, by extension — schedule. Practicing at Kyle Field, where Miller runs Reveille across the field to make sure she remembers her duties on game day, has been one of Miller’s favorite parts of the job.
Afterward, Miller said Reveille likes to let loose and run around the field.
“A lot of people say that she seems really stoic and kind of quiet, but that’s the face she puts on,” Miller said. “Whenever we’re playing around, we take the blanket off of her and she’s like a regular dog. … It’s whenever you can get her behind closed doors and let her have fun, she’s the best. She’s definitely a goofy girl, too.”
The time commitments that come with being the mascot corporal along with being a full-time student and member of the Corps can be tough, Miller said. The support of her friends in E-2 have helped her acclimate to the role, taking care of Reveille at times when Miller feels stretched too thin.
“It’s definitely nice having people you can rely on and help you with the responsibility, because she’s a big responsibility,” Miller said.
Miller is looking forward to getting as many people as possible to see Reveille on campus this year.
“I think the best part of the position is getting to walk around campus and seeing different peoples’ faces light up when they see her, because everybody knows who she is immediately,” she said.
When the time comes to hand over Reveille’s leash to the next sophomore mascot corporal, Miller said she’ll keep looking toward new goals, adding that she hopes more leadership opportunities are in her future.
For now, Miller said she’s glad that she’s been able to show other freshmen women that being mascot corporal is a goal they can have, too.
“This is something that we can actually do,” Miller said. “I’m super excited to see everybody can get excited to be a part of this tradition, too.”