Growing up, Mike Rivera did not dream of becoming an Aggie. He hadn’t really even considered enrolling at Texas A&M University until he attended an Aggie Muster while in high school.
“I had never heard of Muster,” said the 2018 Burnet High School graduate. “I had no idea what it was.”
Now, as Texas A&M University student body vice-president of Tradition Enrichment, Rivera ensures core Aggie values and traditions, including the Muster, remain an integral part of the A&M experience.
The Student Senate confirmed Rivera for the vice-president position in April after student body President Eric Mendoza selected him for it.
Held April 21 every year, the Muster, Rivera explained, is when Aggies worldwide gather together to remember fellow Aggies who have died over the last 12 months.
“It’s a roll call for the absent,” he said.
When he attended the Aggie Muster as a Burnet student, he saw how Texas A&M, with its thousands and thousands of students, was a big family.
“Even though I wasn’t an Aggie, (those at the Muster) accepted me and welcomed me,” Rivera said. “Traditions like Muster is pretty much the primary reason I chose Texas A&M.”
As the vice-president of Tradition Enrichment, Rivera wants to share the school’s traditions and core values with a growing student body. Texas A&M has about 70,000 current students and expects to reach a 75,000 in the coming years, so Rivera has a big job.
After his confirmation in April, Rivera formed a Tradition and Enrichment Committee of students to help with the task as well as bring together the school’s diverse student body.
This is only the second year the university has had a vice-president of Tradition Enrichment, so Rivera is building a foundation for the position.
“I would say this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve in this capacity at a university of this size,” he said. “What I’m doing in this role, you know, will help future Aggies understand and appreciate the Aggie traditions and core values.”
Along with his leadership role, Rivera is majoring in biology and minoring in psychology on a path to medical school. He is also a resident advisor, another position that lets him connect with his fellow Aggies and encourage campus involvement.
Rivera, who will be a junior in the fall, has learned much about being an Aggie and himself since first setting foot on campus.
“I would say my first year, it was overwhelming,” Rivera admitted.
He joined a study group to help him settle into campus life. He also discovered the family atmosphere he witnessed during his first Muster was real, not just a university slogan to attract students.
“It’s an incredible family. I would say that’s what sets Texas A&M University apart,” Rivera said. “And I want other Aggies, especially those in the future, to have that experience.”