Friday, August 28, 2015

UTRGV freshmen move into new home-sweet-homes on both campuses

By Gail Fagan and Vicky Brito

EDINBURG & BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUG. 27-28, 2015 – Hundreds of anxious freshmen carrying bags of clothing and armloads of bedding spent the morning Aug. 27 and 28 moving into their new homes away from home at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Move-In Day on the Brownsville Campus was on Aug. 27, Aug. 28 on the Edinburg Campus.
Mike and Letty Vera, clad in “UTRGV Dad” and “UTRGV Mom” shirts, came from Hebbronville, Texas, on Aug. 28 to help their youngest daughter Monica, 18, move into her room in Unity Hall on the Edinburg campus.
Monica, excited to be part of history as a member of UTRGV’s #FirstClass, said she had heard great things about the university from family and alumni. After touring the dorm twice and measuring its dimensions, she was ready to make her room feel “homey” with some handmade decorations. Now she’s ready to start her school year.  
“I’m looking forward to discovering myself and doing things on my own without the support and comfort of my parents,” Monica said.
Her parents said they were pleased with the university’s affordability, citing its four-year guaranteed tuition, and are excited about Monica’s venture into college.
“I don’t feel like I am losing her, I feel like I am letting her expand,” Letty Vera said of her youngest child leaving home for the first time. “The decisions she makes now will be her decisions.”
Monica, who plans to major in business marketing, was among roughly 500 freshmen who will live on UTRGV’s campuses this year – some 150 at Casa Bella, which provides apartment-style housing near Brownsville’s campus, and nearly 350 in Unity, Heritage or Troxel halls in Edinburg, which provide shared living spaces with two students per room. The Village on the Edinburg campus provides additional one- to four-bedroom apartment-style housing for upperclassmen.  
More than 1,000 students will make their home on campus this fall, coming from 12 different countries and 19 states other than Texas. The housing capacity for both campuses is 1,450.
Director of Housing and Residential Life Sergio Martinez said freshmen are moved into campus housing early to build spirit and engage with them early on. At each campus, the new residents attend a Freshman Town Hall after they move in, where they ask questions and meet their resident assistants.
“We go over our student bill of rights and what it is to be a community member, a positive contributing resident of our facilities. We also have activities that help them get to know their neighbors,” Martinez said.
During the day, more than 60 student, faculty and staff volunteers helped students with the move-in process. The 36 resident assistants – 12 at Brownsville and 24 at Edinburg – were on hand to help the check-in process, which included a room condition report and getting their keys, mailbox and student handbook.  
“One of our goals is to engage students as much as possible and we do that with the resident assistants,” Martinez said.
RAs live with the students, as do two full-time professional staff who are available 24 hours a day to provide guidance, mentorship and serve as role models, he said.
Jaione Rosagaray is a second-year resident assistant at Casa Bella. The biology major, originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, cited several benefits to living on campus.
“My roommates are also studying there, so you get to relate to all of them,” she said. “Also, if you are bored, you can go to a campus event. We have food, we have movies. And we have educational programs, so it’s really good for all the residents.”
Campus housing also serves as a way to meet other students from around the world, Rosagaray said.
“My first time here as an RA was also my first time staying here, and one of my roommates was from Ireland. It is fun to be able to meet a lot of people from different cultures here,” she said.  
International student Luis Manuel Larrinaga said he loves the Rio Grande Valley’s weather, which is similar to the climate in his home of Vera Cruz, Mexico. He was recruited to play baseball as a UTRGV student athlete, and will live in Unity Hall with a fellow pitcher from Laredo who is also a Vaquero athlete.
The first-generation college student, who was accompanied at the move in by his mother, Irma Dominguez, will study civil engineering at UTRGV. 
“I like math and I like to build things,” Larrinaga said.  
Despite its 14-hour distance from where she lives, Dominguez said, she likes the campus and where her son will live. They both also like that UTRGV is a new university.
“I am trying to better myself,” Larrinaga said. “This place makes me feel special.”
Freshmen Move In is part of a weeklong agenda of activities on both campuses to usher in the first day of the new university Aug. 31

Hundreds of anxious freshmen carrying bags of clothing and armloads of bedding spent the morning Aug. 27 and 28 moving into their new homes away from home at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Posted by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Friday, August 28, 2015