November 9, 2016

Tyson Voelkel '96 and his family at Kyle Field for the Texas A&M vs. Prairie View A&M football game, September 10. 

For Tyson Voelkel '96, time is a treasure to be used wisely. Since the day he accepted the top post at the Texas A&M Foundation in December 2015, he has jam-packed his daily schedule to make the most of his re-immersion into Aggieland. It may be a challenge to nail down a meeting time with this man of infinite energy and appointments, but most of the 100 or so employees at the Foundation—and countless others on campus—have not only met him but also feel as if they know him.

Genuine, relatable and Texas Aggies to the core, Voelkel and his wife Christi '98 have never met a stranger.  This summer, they will be moving back to College Station with their three daughters: Eliana, Lily (in spirit) and Violet. He says that serving the Foundation is a calling for his family and that he couldn't be happier to return "home."

"This is month six of what I hope will be a 20-year or longer adventure in service and meaning-making for Texas A&M University, the State of Texas and our country," he said. "I can say with certainty that the Texas A&M Foundation helps to preserve, protect and promote the visionary goals of our university and its leadership like none other."

With nearly 14 years in the U.S. Army during peacetime and war in the Middle East, this decorated lieutenant colonel is acquainted with the concept of service to others. Even when their second child Lily lost her life battle with CHARGE syndrome, a complex birth defect, neither Tyson nor Christi gave in. Instead, they gave more. They created the Lily Voelkel Foundation to help other children and their families who are fighting the same life-threatening condition.

"Helping these children in Lily's memory is definitely one of our passions," Christi Voelkel said, "But another great passion of ours is Texas A&M University, which is such a huge part of our family history, and the place that shaped us into the people we are today."

Amidst all the events, meetings, speeches and late-night emails, the Voelkels made time to give again. In February, they named the Texas A&M Foundation beneficiary of a $500,000 life insurance policy. When realized, the gift will fund scholarships for students in the Corps of Cadets, the College of Engineering, the Bush School of Government and Public Service, and the College of Liberal Arts. It will also support The Association of Former Students and the 12th Man Foundation.

"My family has realized through hardship as well as blessings that life is short, no matter how you measure it, by planning a gift for Texas A&M I feel like we are able to extend our influence in protecting the values that make the university special. And since Texas A&M is in the midst of a comprehensive campaign to raise $4 billion by the year 2020, we believe that our gift of life insurance—which we consider a meaningful investment— is one way we can Lead by Example," he said. It's a statement of our commitment to this campaign, to the Texas A&M Foundation, and to Texas A&M University."

If the meaning of life is to give life meaning, you may think the Voelkels have accomplished their mission. But they're just getting started, and there's no time to waste.