Despite its problems, UT offers unmatched opportunity

Charles Nwaogu

Editor’s Note: In anticipation of the May 1 deadline for admitted high school students to choose to attend the University, we asked student leaders on campus to tell us why they came to UT. Their responses will appear on the opinion page through Thursday.

I’ve made two really good decisions in my life. The first was convincing my parents to get me a Super Nintendo as a kid. The other was deciding to attend UT.

Admittedly, the latter decision was a little more thought-out. As a Houston native, I made the mental calculation that Austin was close enough for me to regularly visit my family yet far enough away for me to mature independently.

It’s been about five years now since I submitted my application to attend Texas’ premier university. In truth, it was the only university to which I seriously applied — I submitted an application for another school but only because my high school English teacher required it for a major grade. In those five years, I’ve never once — and I mean that — regretted packing up my things and making a beeline to Austin.

Since that initial migration, I’ve enjoyed a long, rewarding journey here at the University. During the past two semesters, I’ve lived and interned in the nation’s capital. As a Bill Archer Fellow in fall 2013, I was privileged to share a classroom and home with some of the most brilliant, motivated and kind-hearted students attending the UT system. Throughout these and other opportunities, I’ve had great confidants like Damir Ljuboja and Kingsley Nwaogu to keep me grounded.

This journey, nonetheless, has not been without its bumps. As one of the few black males on campus, I’ve been the target of racial slurs and, once, a fortunately poorly aimed bleach-filled balloon. This is not intended to discourage minority students from coming to Texas, but to make them aware that bigots call this campus home, too. In the long run, I am confident that your amazing experiences at the University will render these unfortunate rendezvous with prejudice inconsequential.

I graduate from this institution in less than three weeks, and the feeling is bittersweet. Of course, I’m ready to move on — I’m certainly not planning on doing a victory lap. But these days, I often find myself kicking back and reflecting on the good ol’ days at the University. So, I say, come to Texas. I promise you will leave a better human being.

Nwaogu is a government and liberal arts honors senior from Houston. Among his jobs in Washington this academic year, he interned at the White House Office of Public Engagement.