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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Reflecting on past, shining light on future

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Photo courtesy of Rebecca Eaton

2023 Muster Speaker Tyson Voelkel. 

Texas A&M Foundation President and CEO Tyson Voelkel, Class of 1996, will serve as the Keynote Speaker at the 2023 Aggie Muster Ceremony on Friday, April 21, at 7 p.m. in Reed Arena. In his position at the A&M Foundation, Voelkel said he oversees the management of private endowments which produce income for the university. 

Being chosen to give the keynote speech is a humbling experience, but Voelkel said he is nervous to be a part of such an incredible tradition. 

“It is really the foundation for what it means to be a Texas Aggie, or an Aggie,” Voelkel said. “I just want to do a good job. I don’t want to let any of those people down. I don’t wanna let the students down most importantly.”

Muster is what makes A&M unique compared to other universities, Voelkel said. 

“Muster is the epitome of everybody matters,” Voelkel said. “It doesn’t matter what your background was. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is, or where you came from, what religion you are. It doesn’t matter what you’re studying. What matters is that you’re part of this A&M family, and that we care about you.”

Twenty years ago while serving in Iraq, Voelkel said he met with the only other Aggie he could on April 21 to sing The Spirit of Aggieland in honor of Muster. 

“Everybody thought we were weird,” Voelkel said. “Then we said, ‘Well, hey, I’ll hope you make it through and we’ll see you back on campus someday.’ That was our Muster. There was no ceremony other than us, finding one another to get together.”

Throughout the speech, Voelkel said he hopes to bring people together despite polarizing debates across the country. 

“I think I’m most looking forward to the idea that, is there a way that through these remarks we can remind us of our best selves?” Voelkel said. “Let’s remind everybody that this institution is special, this institution is different.”

To prepare for the speech, Voelkel said he read every previous Muster speech given and spoken with previous keynote speakers. 

“It’s hard to believe but I can say I can even love [A&M] more because of the preparation for this,” Voelkel said. “Everybody needs to be reminded sometimes, even the leadership, even people in roles like mine … sometimes I need that little jolt in reminder. This was pretty incredible to see where we’ve come from.”

Muster has its own meaning for everyone based on the time in their life that they’re in, Voelkel said. 

“The older I get, the more I think I appreciate and recognize how unique being a part of an extended family and being part of something bigger than yourself — it really, really matters,” Voelkel said. 

Furthermore, Voelkel said he hopes to establish a feeling of connectedness through his speech and remind people they can achieve more when they work together with others.  

“When you think about Muster and its roots, you’re remembering those who passed away, so that their memories [are] never forgotten,” Voelkel said. “The assumption is that they were working toward something meaningful, they were doing something meaningful, and it’s our responsibility to carry that forward. It’s our responsibility to pick up where they left off.” 

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