Gone to Texas welcomes freshmen, grad students

Allie Kolechta

The tower glowed orange and the Longhorn Band, Student Government representatives, the Innervisions Gospel Choir and other student groups convened on the main mall to welcome the class of 2015 to campus on Tuesday night.

After a performance of the “Eyes of Texas” from the Innervisions Gospel Choir, student government president Natalie Butler and vice president Ashley Baker opened the event with a speech about what it means to be a Longhorn. Butler said being a student at UT means living up to the vision that the state legislature had when they created the University.

“Our student body is diverse, dynamic and above all, world changing,” she said. “We were brought here to be the best, and now, we have to think beyond ourselves. I’ve realized what I want to do, and I challenge all of you to do the same.”

Since 1997, Gone to Texas has welcomed anyone who is new to the University each year, including freshmen, transfer students, graduate students and law students, said Susan Clagett, an associate vice president in the Office of Relationship Management and University Events. Clagett helped plan the event.

“The program seeks not only to welcome but to help new students get acclimated and become as comfortable here as quickly as possible so that they can do as well as possible,” she said. “The event gives them the chance to get closer to their local community where they’ll be doing academic work.”

Clagett said she was speaking to a graduate student about her experience at UT on the day of Gone to Texas and the student pinpointed one of the biggest messages that the event should send.

“She was talking about how special it is to come here,” she said. “There’s a pride about UT Austin that really is tangible here. Part of what the evening is about is the sense of pride and how special it is to start here and change the world. The brand is real, and we want new students to know what’s behind it.”

Incoming undergraduate studies freshman Jonathan Ibrahim went to Gone to Texas after getting dinner at the Gone to Undergraduate Studies program. He said he is getting ready for a great year by learning more about his school through Gone to Texas.

“I’m excited because UT means a great college experience,” he said. “This school has the whole package.”

Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: Gone to Texas welcomes freshmen, grad students.