Explore UT inspires next generation


Lingnan Chen

Collesge of Fine Arts students practice woodblock printing by using a steamroller at Explore UT on Saturday.

David Leffler

Explore UT, known as “The Biggest Open House in Texas,” gives prospective UT students a chance to explore the behind the scenes of campus organizations.

Thousands of prospective students, alumni and parents flooded campus Saturday as part of the 13th annual university-wide effort to encourage visitors from around the state to experience a day as a Longhorn. People of all ages attended the event, from young children to alumni.

Douglas Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts, organized the event and said the purpose of Explore UT is to allow students of all backgrounds to realize that they are welcome at UT.

“This is about encouraging kids to think seriously about going to college, many of whom have never had an experience on a college campus before,” he said. “We’re letting kids know that if they work hard enough they can get here.”

Dempster said he feels the event is important because it opens UT’s campus to anyone. He said it also helps remind current students and staff how fortunate they are to be at UT.

“The very fact we’re opening the doors and saying ‘everybody’s welcome’ sends a huge message out into the community. For all of us who work and attend school here, we forget how much of a privilege and how special it is to be on a campus like this,” he said.

Dempster said the one thing he wants people to take away from Explore UT is that anyone can be a Longhorn.

“Everyone is welcome here, everyone has a stake in what goes on here,” he said. “That’s the message we’re trying to send.”

Kelly Elementary School counselor Kiana Cantu said she thinks Explore UT is an important opportunity for children who do not have an educated family background. Cantu and 22 children from the Kelly Student Council traveled from San Antonio to attend the event.

“Our goal was to expose them to the University and [show] that they can go to college, whether or not they have the funds,” she said. “We want them to explore their options and what they want to eventually do.”

Cantu said the children’s experience at Explore UT will greatly influence their views of college.

“I definitely think this experience will have a huge impact on them in the long run. In bringing them here, we’re hoping that they set a goal of coming back as students. They’ve been here, they can do it again,” she said.

There were many young children on campus for the event, including nine-year-old triplets Severin, Sean and Sky Lucic, who enjoyed the science events.

“I want to study space so one day I might be able to go to a planet,” Sky said.­­ “Probably Mars or Venus.”

His brother, Sean, said he wants to study DNA when he comes to UT. He said one day he will find the cures for various diseases.

“I don’t know if I’m going to find the cure for cancer or AIDS, but it’s not impossible,” he said.

Printed on Monday, March 5, 2012 as: UT opens its doors to the community