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Texas A&M geography senior Mackenzie Portie poses with her grandfather Michael Hoover beside the water fountain outside the Jon L. Hagler Center after receiving her Aggie Ring
Mackenzie Portie '24 (right) and her grandfather, Michael Hoover. | Image: Courtesy photo

Mackenzie Portie's roots run deep in the town of Richmond, Texas, weaving through a community rich in history. The Texas A&M University senior's journey from Richmond to Aggieland is a passage steeped in family ties, shared Aggie pride and a profound connection to the land.  

"Texas A&M was a natural choice for me because it's a family tradition, and I love the deep-rooted traditions," Portie explained. 

As one of nearly two dozen family members who have attended Texas A&M through the years, Portie stands as a living testament to the enduring Aggie spirit that spans generations of her family. Upon enrolling at Texas A&M, she quickly gravitated toward the Department of Geography and a major in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST), a choice she says was influenced by her grandfather's legacy. 

"My grandfather, Michael Hoover, is a registered professional land surveyor and the reason I chose my major,” Portie said. “He inspired me to pursue GIST."

Hoover is co-owner of Seacoast Surveyors in Crystal Beach, Texas, and a contributor to various land surveying companies. Portie says he has been the guiding force fueling her fascination with land surveying — a blend of history, the great outdoors and transforming field data into understandable formats.  

"The aspects of the major that captivate me the most are the small program size, allowing personal connections with fellow students and the opportunity for personalized instruction from professors to enhance my learning," Portie said. "It's not just about acquiring knowledge; it's about forging connections and receiving personalized guidance."

Texas A&M University geography major Mackenzie Portie works on a level loop during filed work in summer 2023
Portie, working on a level loop this past summer. | Image: Courtesy photo

Portie's involvement in geography at Texas A&M extends beyond academics. As a member of the Geography Engagement Committee and a student worker within the department, she actively contributes to shaping the narrative surrounding geography and GIST.  

"Our committee creates content to inform current and future students about our exceptional degree programs and encourages them to consider majoring in geography or GIST," she explained, underscoring the importance of advocacy and awareness.  

Looking ahead, Portie envisions a future where her academic pursuits seamlessly merge with her passion for business within a land surveying company.  

"After graduating, I may apply for a master’s, and I would also like to pursue a position dealing with business at a land surveying company," Portie added.  

In emphasizing the pivotal role of land surveying in development, Portie highlights her insights into the field's major components, including a love for history, a willingness to get her hands dirty in the field and the ability to translate field data into client-friendly formats. She credits the Department of Geography with playing a transformative role in her academic journey — an aspect she urges prospective undergraduates considering a degree in geography to ponder.  

"Geography is vital, as it envelops the world around us," Portie said. "Looking back on my academic journey, the geography department has broadened my outlook and revealed numerous opportunities, many of which I wasn't aware of before joining Texas A&M." 

As Portie navigates the landscapes of GIST and land surveying, she emerges not only as a student but also as an ambassador of family traditions, a passionate advocate for her chosen field and a testament to the boundless opportunities that unfold when one explores the world through the lens of geography. 


Be Here is a comprehensive campaign throughout the 2023-24 academic year highlighting the students, faculty, staff, former students and donors in the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas A&M University and their significant contributions to their college, campus and community as well as our state, nation and world. To learn more, visit