At the annual Gone to Texas celebration, fireworks and a giant 23 on the tower welcomed 8,000 new students to the Forty Acres.
The event, which featured a performance of “The Eyes of Texas” by the Longhorn Band, brought together students and staff to kick off the year. UT President Gregory Fenves and Student Government officers were among those giving speeches to the freshman class.
Fenves said students should use their time at UT as a time for exploration, not just in academics, but within themselves.
“There are so many paths you can take at UT,” Fenves said. “This experience is not about becoming someone or becoming something — it is about becoming yourself.”
Student Body President Camron Goodman said students will find themselves making new friends, having new experiences and learning new and exciting things.
“Even with all the amazing things that stand out at this University, the thing that makes us great is students like you,” Goodman said. “We really, truly want to inspire students like you to create and write the next story of UT history.”
While Gone to Texas is largely geared toward the incoming freshman class, Goodman, who was a transfer student, told the Texan that he wants transfer students to feel welcomed.
“Our stories are different,” Goodman said. “I do believe that the conversation is shifting in recognizing that there is more to first-year students than just first time in college students.”
Amie Jean, student body vice president, said students should take advantage of what UT has to offer and embrace newness, creativity and discovery together.
“Tonight is your beginning,” Jean said. “It’s your opportunity to shape the legacy that you will become for each and every one of you.”
Rachel Smith, an international student and a radio-television-film junior, said while coming to UT was a culture shock, she appreciates how Gone to Texas is a time dedicated to new students.
“The fanfare is not exactly something I’m used to,” Smith said. “When (the University) is this massive, you maybe want that moment of your time.”
Fenves encouraged students to explore opportunities and keep an open mind while they’re at the University.
“You are here because you are talented, because you’ve worked hard, because you have the ambition and persistence to achieve a goal,” Fenves said. “And now, you’re here at UT attending the finest University in the great state of Texas.”