Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Texas Orange Jackets reflect on a century of community

William Whitworth
(From left) Texas Orange Jacket officers Social Director Marylynn Alvarado, PR Director Christine Camarillo, Special Events Director Athena Adrogué, Alumni Relations Director Rachel Chen, Co-Vice President of Membership Mia Weissbluth, Co-Tap Trainer Annie You, Settlement Home Director Nikita Kakkad, President Anna Alvis inside the UT Tower on Oct. 31, 2023.

Among the sea of burnt orange making up a typical UT game, a group of women stands proudly in the crowd, clad in felt jackets, trimmed in white with an orange “T” stitched across the pocket. The group makes the vests with money raised selling sandwiches, announcing themselves to the world as the Texas Orange Jackets.

The Red River Rivalry game on Nov. 17, 1923 served as the organization’s debut. Founder Dorothy Ann Fisher dreamed of a community for passionate women who wanted to lead and inspire, according to Orange Jackets. In a time when only 1,500 women attended UT, Fisher sought help from Professor Anna Hiss to create a long-lasting legacy.

A century later, Fisher’s creation lives on, and Orange Jackets acts as one of the longest-lasting honorary service organizations on campus led by upstanding women and nonbinary people. 

After donating money towards the expansion of the campus, Orange Jackets became official hosts of the University in 1937. As hosts, their duties included leading campus tours, running student government elections and working football games. Through their work, the group quickly became much more than a service organization to the members — it became a family. 

For Christine Camarillo, advertising and sociology senior and Orange Jacket, the community initially drew her to the organization.

“I was at a time in my college career where I felt really stagnant,” Camarillo said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but further than that I didn’t feel like I had a community to lean on. I joined (Orange Jackets) looking for a community who were like-minded in that we all were passionate about service.”

For Shelby Hobohm, Texas Exes Orange Jackets network president, the wide array of community-minded people within Orange Jackets encouraged her to join.

“One of the biggest strengths of Orange Jackets is the diversity of the organization. Both the diversity in people’s personal, lived experiences and the diversity in their academic and life passions,” Hobohm said. “We say it in the application — anybody can be an Orange Jacket.”

First-year members, also known as Tappees, work together to create the group’s Tap project, a service project dedicated to helping the community. Deepti Aravapalli, communications director of the Texas Exes Orange Jackets network, said they believe the Tap projects allow members to make their mark through uplifting other established projects aimed at serving the wider community.

“There are so many organizations that have been doing a lot of the work our Tap projects focus on already,” Aravapalli said. “We don’t ever want to come in and usurp that in any way. If we can be of help to great efforts that already exist, then that’s what we want to do.”

After years of inspiring change at UT, the organization will celebrate its centenary this November. To commemorate the momentous occasion, current Orange Jackets members and alumni collaborated to create the Centennial Celebration: a three-day event on Nov. 3-5 to recognize their century’s worth of service and community.

“It’s the people (I’m most grateful for),” Aravapalli said. “The amount of warmth and help I’ve had from everyone in my Tap class (means a lot). They stay in your life for a long time, and it’s fun to do life together with these people.”

More to Discover