By: Angela Shah
Colton Becker has marked the milestones of his life with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™, culminating with his college education.
His earliest memories include the Rodeo’s Trail Riders stopping for the night at the gravel parking lot that surrounded his Little League baseball field: “They’d have their barbecue wagon cookout; they’d have music playing,” Becker said. “They were all just hanging out and we’d eat with them. It was so much fun.”
At Alvin High School, his cousins raised animals while Becker participated in livestock judging competitions. Every year, a visit to the Rodeo was a ritual, and he loved to cheer for the cowboys on the bulls that twisted and turned as they tried to eject their riders.
“When I was 16 and could finally drive, I took my high school sweetheart to the Rodeo,” he said. So as Becker was planning for college, it made sense that he looked to the Rodeo for support.
It also helped that his cousin was awarded a scholarship about a decade earlier.
“I still remember when I got the email when I was in my fifth period anatomy class senior year,” he said. “The first thing I did was take a screenshot of my phone and send it to my parents with a bunch of exclamation marks.”
Becker said the $16,000 awarded to him “was transformative and led to where I am today,” which is an honors graduate in advanced nutritional sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.
Instead of worrying about taking out student loans or balancing part-time jobs in addition to his schoolwork, Becker said he was able to fully experience campus life. That includes being a research assistant at UT’s Bray Research Lab, numerous positions within UT’s student government and vice president for philanthropy at the Texas InterFraternity Council.
“The scholarship enabled me to say ‘yes’ to opportunities on campus,” he said.
First among those experiences was his election in 2018 as UT's student body president. But, victory only came following three campus-wide elections, with the first one annulled due to election rules violations and the second resulting in a runoff.
“It was challenging, especially when you’re trying to reach a student body of over 50,000 students with international backgrounds and from all 50 states and family situations,” Becker said. “You have to exhibit patience and listen to people and get out of your own head. Leadership is earned.”
As he tries to decide between medical or law school for his next steps, Becker said he credits the Rodeo with giving him the tools to fully participate in campus life.
“Just being part of the Rodeo family is a source of pride for me,” he said. “I intend to volunteer and give back. It’s hard to put into words everything Rodeo means to me.”