Saturday, August 29, 2015

UTRGV #FirstClass celebrates new beginnings, opportunities at The Roundup

By Jennifer L. Berghom and Vicky Brito
BROWNSVILLE & EDINBURG, TEXAS – AUG. 28-29, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley welcomed almost 4,000 of its #FirstClass students over two days during The Roundup, daylong orientation events geared toward acclimating new students to the university.
At Friday’s Roundup on the Brownsville Campus, more than 900 freshmen packed the Texas Southmost College Arts Center, and on Saturday, some 3,000 students attended in the Fieldhouse on the Edinburg Campus.
Freshman Sofia Villarreal was one of the more than 3,000 students standing in a line that snaked throughout the eastern part of Edinburg campus Saturday morning. A Brownsville resident and graduate of the Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes, Villarreal decided to attend the Edinburg event because some of her classes will be on that campus.
“I like the enthusiasm of the staff and the mentors and everyone,” she said. “It brings more excitement to this environment.”
UTRGV Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez welcomed the students and encouraged them to get involved with research, extracurricular activities and other opportunities available to them.
The UTRGV Roundup on the Brownsville Campus had more than 900 #FirstClass freshmen, shown here on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in the Texas Southmost College Arts Center. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

Students are the number-one priority for UTRGV.
“We are here because of you. You are number one for our institution, and we want to work with you to ensure your success,” he said. “We are making history. You are making history, as we form this one university.”
Rodríguez said UTRGV has four important goals: ensuring student success and expanding educational, medical and research opportunities.
“At the forefront at UTRGV is the success of our students. We want you to come to UTRGV, we want you to stay at UTRGV, we want you to graduate from UTRGV. This is an institution of hope,” Rodríguez said.
Students also heard from the Student Government Association president and vice presidents at both campuses, as well as from motivational speaker Aric Bostick, who spoke about never giving up on their dreams.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley ushered in its #FirstClass with The Roundup, More than 3,000 new students attended on Saturday. Aug. 29, 2015, on the Edinburg Campus. (UTRGV Photo by Kristela Garza)

He had a rough childhood, Bostick told them, so he knows first-hand how important it is to keep working to overcome any and all obstacles.
“I come from a broken home, but here’s the good news: I’m not broken,” Bostick said.
Freshmen eventually were divided into three groups that traveled to different breakout sessions with information on student organizations, wellness and campus safety.
Students also met with representatives from the UTRGV colleges that house the programs they are interested in pursuing, to learn more about what is in store for them.
Freshmen Yenda Garcia and Brianna Cortez are friends from high school and attended Hanna Early College High School in Brownsville together. Both are aspiring teachers and were glad to have been placed in the same orientation group.
Cortez said she chose UTRGV because of the proximity to home.
“We’re going to be part of the first class,” she said. “My freshman year, I was looking forward to attending UTB, and now it’s changed to UTRGV -- which is something bigger.”
Garcia is looking forward to adulthood and to embracing the changes to come.
“I look forward to independence,” she said.
Estephanie Hernandez, who recently graduated from Veteran’s Memorial Early College High School in Brownsville, said she chose UTRGV to stay close to her family.
“Everyone is here,” Hernandez said. “My friends and my family, I have cousins that go here and I decided to follow them.”
Hernandez is looking forward to new experiences as she begins her collegiate career. She plans to major in Criminal Justice and hopes to become a police officer.
Her father is her motivation.
“My dad dropped out in high school,” she said. “But he always told me to reach higher and not to give up.”
Brownsville’s Pace Early College High School graduates Alan Garcia, Nathan Serrata and Fabian Leyva all said a quality education close to home is what appealed most to them about UTRGV.
“Mainly so I can stay closer to home, I wouldn’t have minded leaving, but since there is something nearby and the education here is really good, it is really one of the reasons why I decided to stay,” Leyva said.
Serrata said he has a love for education and plans to study pre-pharmacy.
“I love learning new things and, with this major, I feel like I am going to learn very interesting things about my favorite field of study, science,” Serrata said.
Garcia dreams of owning his own start-up business and hopes UTRGV can give him the knowledge to attain that dream.
“My ultimate goal is to build from the bottom up and show people that it doesn’t take money or influence to be able to build yourself into somebody, Garcia said.