Student leaders reflect on why they chose Texas

Andrew Clark

Editor’s Note: In anticipation of the May 1 deadline for admitted high-school students to chose to attend the University, we asked student leaders on campus to tell us why they came to UT. This submission, from former Senate of College Councils President Andrew Clark, is the first of several that will run this week. It has been minimally edited for style.

For me, attending The University of Texas was meant to be. I grew up in a house divided; my dad went to Texas A&M and my mom is a proud Texas Ex. There are even two sets of baby photos in my house, one of my younger brother and I wearing maroon, another in burnt orange. I grew up thinking there were only two possible schools I could attend: UT and A&M. As I neared senior year of high school I realized there was far more available than just these two Texas flagships, but I couldn’t help but feel a connection to those schools. Despite the efforts of my parents, I went in with an open mind, looking at schools from across the state and the country. Inevitably, all it took was a visit to the 40 Acres one day in September to realize that this was the place for me. And no disrespect to the Aggies — including my brother, who kept our house evenly divided — but considering four years in Austin or four years in College Station practically made the decision for me.

Reflecting on that choice now, I realize that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But it wasn’t easy, as I was one of only two students from my graduating class to come to Texas. Though I already felt quite an affinity for UT, it was an intimidating proposition to move to Austin without really knowing anyone. It even led me to keep A&M in the running until the last minute because I had several friends going there. But once I arrived, I was fortunate to quickly find my niche on campus in the Senate of College Councils, one of UT’s three legislative student organizations. I had the privilege and honor of representing the students of this campus through Senate, culminating with my term as Senate president this year. The people I encountered through Senate over my four years are without question the most remarkable people I’ve ever met, and they are what truly made my college experience meaningful. UT offers its students an incredible breadth of experiences, with world-class academics, a second-to-none athletics program, an active lifestyle in one of the most popular cities in the country and the opportunity to make a positive impact on campus. I received an outstanding education, but in my case, the experiences I had outside the classroom are what most define my four years at UT. I learned by serving the students of the campus and working with extraordinary people, and in the process, I made memories that I’ll never forget.

For anyone still considering UT that may be reading this, our president, Bill Powers, says a great university “opens up a world of ideas to you. You may show up and think you don’t belong. But you do belong because it changes your life.” I am living proof that these words are true. My experience at UT has made me the person I am today. The 40 Acres expanded my worldview, showed me success and failure, gave me lifelong friends, and taught me more than I could imagine. Ultimately, that’s what college is all about. UT gave me far more than I could ever give in return, and as I prepare to graduate I have more people to thank than I can count. But the best thing about UT is that my story is just one of many you’ll find on the 40 Acres. I encourage you to attend the University of Texas and write your own story. You certainly won’t regret it. 

Clark is an international relations and global studies senior from Canyon Lake. He will be graduating in May.