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

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

The Battalion

Silver Taps: Joel Jose Vazquez


April 4, 2001 – September 18, 2023

Joel Jose Vazquez

An adventurous, noble spirit, water lover and nature enthusiast.


Joel Vazquez, an only child, grew up in Austin, where he played lacrosse throughout high school and relished in his love for nature. His deep appreciation for the environment carried over into his Aggie career as he aimed to graduate in fall 2023 with a degree in environmental science. 

Janina Vazquez, Joel’s mom, said Joel’s admiration for nature began as a child. He loved fishing and committed a great deal of his time to learning its ropes and many facets.

“He always loved the outdoors,” Janina said. “I remember him as a little kid digging holes in our backyard and putting black plastic bags trying to make fish tanks. He just always enjoyed being outside. Very early on, Joel, along with a family friend, maybe he might have been, like, 6 or 7 years old, he kind of was introduced to fishing. And when he got old enough, maybe around 13 [or] 14 years old, he started to teach himself how to fish and became very proficient in fishing.”

Joel shared his love for the outdoors with friends as well, Janina said.

“[Joel] introduced a lot of his friends to fishing,” Janina said. “That’s something that a lot of his friends told me [was] that they were so glad to have been introduced to fishing by Joel, that that was like his favorite thing to do — to be out in the water. … He would just light up, again, being just around water.”

Texas A&M was a dream come true for Joel and he took pride in being an Aggie, Janina said. 

“He was so excited to be a student,” Janina said. “That was his dream school. He was so excited to be an Aggie and his girlfriend was going to A&M also so he was really excited about living in the same town, of course, and they were both studying the same thing. I remember him coming home and he preferred to wear all these t-shirts that he got that said Texas A&M on them. He wouldn’t wear any other shirt because he was just so proud.”

Upon graduating from A&M, Joel planned to advance in his efforts of helping the environment through his career.

“He definitely wanted to save habitats,” Janina said. “He was really interested in working at the Everglades with that habitat. He said he wanted to go to Florida and do some work there in the Everglades.”

A man of noble character, Janina said Joel was someone who always worked hard for what he wanted.

“Joel was very humble. He was always very humble and he would love to go out of his way and make people just feel comfortable … One of my favorite things about Joel is that whatever he wanted, he would go after,” Janina said. “Really early on, he got his boating license, he must have been between 15 and 16 years old. We have this little rinky dink boat, and my husband told him that he wasn’t allowed to drive the boat until he knew how to handle himself around it. And so Joel took it upon himself to do the work and take the courses and take the exam to have his boating license.”

As the oldest child in his family, Joel set an example for his younger cousins. His adventurous spirit and loving character was evident in the love he showed toward them, Janina said.

“He was always very energetic. He was just one of those old souls,” Janina said. “And Joel was always the eldest, right? Everybody else was like, about seven years his junior. And so Joel was the cool cousin who was always hanging out with the little ones, showing them things and taking them places and hanging out with them.”

For two years, Joel battled with a rare brain stem tumor. 

“He was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor,” Janina said. “It was a midline glioma … and basically, it’s a tumor that grows on the brainstem … But he was extremely brave and courageous throughout this two year battle with cancer. He never complained. Like, seriously, he never complained.”

Inspired by his unwavering strength, Janina said they continue to remember the impact Joel left on his family, as his words hold a special place in their hearts.

“[When he was diagnosed] I started telling him, ‘Oh, honey, things are gonna be okay,’” Janina said. “And he said, ‘Don’t say that. I just want us to take it one day at a time. Just one day at a time.’ And that was our motto for [the] two years that he was sick and it continues to be for us.”

Joel’s loving character, humility and courage were shown through his spirit. He was a bright and wise soul to be around and his courageous approach to life was a testament to his true character.

“I just saw my son become this amazing man [and] human being,” Janina said. “That just accepted this hard thing that was thrown his way. And he made the time that he was sick a pleasure to take care of him. He just wouldn’t complain, he was just trying to be as unobtrusive as he could. And that just speaks, to me, of his maturity and just his courage as a person.”

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About the Contributor
Sydnei Miles
Sydnei Miles, Head Life & Arts Editor
Sydnei Miles is a communication sophomore and journalism minor from Houston, Texas. She began reporting for The Battalion in the fall 2022 semester covering culture and community events happening on and around campus. Since January 2024, Sydnei has served as The Battalion's head Life & Arts editor and previously served as the assistant Life & Arts editor for some of the spring 2023 semester and for the fall 2023 semester.
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Comments (8)

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  • M

    Molly CarlsonMar 8, 2024 at 12:42 am

    Prayers for and deep sympathy to the loved ones of each of the Silver Taps Aggies.

  • D

    Diane DoMar 6, 2024 at 12:25 am

    My sincere condolences to the family of Joel- what an amazing man to have touched and blessed so many lives. I am truly sorry for your loss- I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child- let alone your only child. While I don’t understand how cancer strikes to wonderful people- but I pray for peace, comfort and continued strength.

  • H

    Holly VeechMar 5, 2024 at 9:21 pm

    What loving words and a beautiful tribute to your son. We will keep your family in our prayers. May God give you strength in the days ahead, and may you always have memories that keep your son alive in the hearts of many. Your Aggie family shares in your sorrow and will never forget your sweet son.

  • C

    Carmen MenjivarMar 5, 2024 at 8:24 pm

    Very sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your family.

  • F

    Francesca MeyerMar 5, 2024 at 6:36 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have an only child and I can’t imagine the pain of your loss. What an incredible young man you have raised.

  • I

    IrisMar 5, 2024 at 2:14 pm

    I’m sitting in an airport after visiting my Aggie and I am in tears. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. My son is an only child too and I can’t bear the thought of losing him. I will pray that God gives you the strength and peace as you go through this difficult time.

  • C

    Chrysti BryantMar 5, 2024 at 10:48 am

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your son. Praying for you and your family to feel God’s peace and strength.

  • C

    Cynthia IgbinoviaMar 5, 2024 at 10:15 am

    Such a wonderful young man, I’m so sorry for your loss.