The glow of a single candle pierced the darkness in Reed Arena on April 21, 2012. Slowly, that light spread among the rows as names were reverently announced and calls of “Here!” resonated from various parts of the venue. As the last name was called, Katie Dachniwsky '15 looked down from her seat at the sparkling sea of tiny flames that commemorated the Aggies who died during the previous year.
Participating in Muster, one of the most hallowed of Aggie traditions, marked a turning point for the young Aggie. “At that time, I didn’t know anyone being honored personally, but after walking through the Reflections Display earlier in the week, I knew that each name had a story and a family,” said Dachniwsky, who attended the ceremony with her friend Luke Urbanovsky '15 and others from MSC FISH (Freshmen in Service and Hosting). “It wasn’t until I saw the ceremony firsthand, the candle lighting, the answering of ‘here,’ and the strength and unity of the Aggie family gathered in the arena that I truly experienced the Aggie Spirit and what it meant.”
Leaving Reed Arena at the conclusion of Muster that day, Dachniwsky knew she wanted to become more involved in the sacred observance by serving in some capacity. But what she didn’t know was that her future assignment would be to host the grieving family of her friend. Two months after Dachniwsky and her fellow MSC FISH members experienced Muster for the first time, Luke lost his life in a car accident.
The Urbanovsky family came to the 2013 Muster with a heavy heart, but they found solace in the time they spent with Dachniwsky and other members of their son’s Aggie family.
Close bonds had formed in the months after the accident as they worked together to fund the Luke Urbanovsky ’15 Memorial MSC FISH Endowment through the Texas A&M Foundation. “The endowment is important to us because it is a way to honor Luke’s memory,” said Connie Urbanovsky ’85, Luke’s mother. “Our family wanted to give something back to Texas A&M and the students who have shown us such kindness and support during this time.”
MSC FISH is a leadership organization that each year helps 80 freshmen develop leadership skills through volunteerism. Luke’s MSC FISH experience involved visiting Waldenbrooke Retirement Home, assisting underprivileged children and those with special needs, emptying campus recycling receptacles, cleaning up Kyle Field after football games, and fundraising for Tiny Hands International, which rescues girls in Nepal from sex slavery.
Luke’s big brother, Joshua Urbanovsky, who attends the University of North Texas, spearheaded creation of the endowment. Donations came quickly from family members, friends, colleagues, businesses and people who did not know Luke but were moved by his story.
“At first, raising $25,000 looked to be an impossible goal,” Connie said. “We are truly amazed and blessed that we reached our goal in 10 months. Some donations were small and other donations larger, but it all added up to make this goal achievable.”
The endowment stands as a testament to Luke’s innate ability to touch lives. “Luke was one of the most outgoing people I knew,” said Dachniwsky. “He knew how to make anyone feel like they were part of the group. He truly embraced the idea that the relationships you have with people are what really matters.”
A Memory Burning Brightly
While Aggies celebrate Muster in more than 300 places around the world on April 21 of each year, a special series of activities are planned in College Station, many of which help grieving families connect with the Aggie family and celebrate their Aggie’s life.
For the Urbanovskys, that day included a visit to the Memorial Student Center’s Flag Room to see a display honoring Luke. They also took part in the Aggie Ring Remembrance at The Association of Former Students, where they received a ring crest with their son’s graduation year, as well as Aggie Muster at Reed Arena.
In her role as Muster Host, Dachniwsky accompanied the Urbanovsky family throughout their campus visit, escorting them to various events and attending to their needs.
Despite the on-campus support, the day’s events proved especially intense for the Urbanovskys. “Our experience with Muster is different than many families,” Connie said. “Many who were honored have lived a long, fulfilled life. It’s difficult to lose a loved one at any age, but it’s hard to accept when it’s your own son— a young man with so much potential who was so happy with life.”
The presence of so many MSC FISH members and other classmates strengthened the Urbanovsky family during an otherwise emotional time. “Luke’s friends lined the back of the room for the Aggie Ring Remembrance and sat together at Muster,” Connie said. “It brings me comfort to know that Luke was loved and that he had a positive effect on their lives.”
Throughout the day, the Urbanovskys also felt the special power of Aggieland. “It was evident in the reflection displays that every Aggie on the roll call was loved both by their biological family and also by the Aggie family,” Luke’s mother said. “The respect, loyalty and love that the students displayed to Aggies they knew and to others they had never met was an overwhelming experience for our family.”
By Dorian Martin
Texas A&M Foundation
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities.