Fenves, Strong welcome Class of 2019 at Horns Up Night

Nancy Huang

Members of the Class of 2019 gathered in the Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium on Wednesday for Horns Up Night, a welcome ceremony to celebrate the first day of their college careers.

The three-part celebration began with a rally, including appearances from campus spirit groups, UT President Gregory Fenves and head coach Charlie Strong. Horns Up Night is a part of Longhorn Welcome, a two-week series of events to welcome incoming freshmen.

Gage Paine, vice president for student affairs, explained the significance of Horns Up Night in helping incoming freshmen to get involved outside of the classroom.

“It’s a major factor in student success and staying on track to graduate in four years,” Paine said in a letter on the Longhorn Welcome site. “Students who form connections and build community are also more likely to do well academically.”

The event was planned by Texas Exes members, summer orientation advisors, student spirit groups and volunteers. In addition to welcoming the new class, it also gave students a chance to unwind after the first day  of classes.

Ari Monteiro, a petroleum engineering freshman, said the event made her feel welcome.

“My favorite part was when they fired Smokey the Cannon,” Monteiro said. “I was nervous for today, but this really made me feel better about starting college here.”

The rally culminated in multiple speeches by Fenves and Strong and included an appearance by the UT football team.

“I know this is the freshman class,” Strong said. “This is gonna be a great year. You’re gonna do a great job. Work hard. Put in the time. We’ll need your support, and we want your support — all the time.”

Afterward, freshmen were invited to take a Class of 2019 photo in the shape of a giant longhorn head.

Undeclared freshman Yvonne Hua said the event helped her feel less nervous about starting college.

“It’s really considerate of them,” Hua said. “They put up all these activities to make us feel welcome.”

The rally ended with a speech by Leslie Cedar, CEO of Texas Exes.

“For you new Longhorns, if today is your first day, congratulations,” Cedar said. “It is a big deal that you are here.”

Afterward, students were invited to the Texas Exes Orange and White Welcome held in the Alumni Center. Students ate dinner together, danced to music, played booth games, entered giveaways and took photos together in a photo booth.

“There’s nothing like pride,” Strong said. “There’s nothing like tradition. There’s nothing like [our] resources and facilities. But most importantly, there’s nothing like this fine group of freshmen right here.”