Tyson Voelkel

Tyson Voelkel is the president of the Texas A&M Foundation.

Howdy Ags,

What is the true value of a Texas A&M University education? There are a few different ways to approach this question. You could take it literally and answer “the cost of tuition.” Or maybe you could think practically and say it’s the value of the career opportunities received after graduation. Neither answer is wrong, but I’d argue the truth is deeper. The journey of one brilliant student, Adey Awah ’20, might best answer this question.

Adey grew up in Harlingen, Texas, with his single mother who emigrated from Cameroon. Growing up in South Texas, he took part in a variety of extracurricular activities. In a typical week, he would play viola in an orchestra concert on Thursday, suit up with the football team on Friday, and wake up bright and early for a track meet on Saturday.

After a campus visit to Texas A&M his senior year of high school, Adey was convinced he had found the place for him. His mother wasn’t sure about him attending a university more than 360 miles away from home, but a generous scholarship from the Terry Foundation made the draw of Texas A&M irresistible.

Since his arrival in College Station, Adey has thrived at Texas A&M. He’s an outgoing Aggie who serves as a Fish Camp counselor and is, by all accounts, the kind of student who makes friends with everyone he meets. As a biochemistry major, he’s stayed the course en route to becoming a Doctor of Pharmacy. What’s more, he even discovered a new strain of bacteriophage—a bacteria-killing virus—while conducting undergraduate research.

So, what is the value of Adey’s Texas A&M education, and where does it come from? Does it come from his time in the laboratories and lecture halls, learning how to conduct transformative research firsthand? Or is it found outside school hours, when he’s fostering friendships, living on his own and becoming the young man he was meant to be?

The value, of course, is a sum of all of the above. It comes from each step he’s taken in College Station so far and each one he’ll take until he walks across the Reed Arena stage. All it took was one gift to bring him to Texas A&M. Imagine the gifts he and every Aggie like him will bring to the world outside.

Thanks and Gig ’em,

Tyson Voelkel ’96

President, Texas A&M Foundation

Watch a video about Adey at give.am/SupportAggies.

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