New conference helps sophomores start the school year prepared
Posted: 08/23/2007
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More than 100 second-year students at The University of Texas-Pan American participated in the first sophomore conference Tuesday, Aug. 21. The conference titled "The Second Lap: Extreme Sophomore Experience" featured a balance of academic, financial and personal/social presentations throughout the daylong conference.

Pictured from left to right at the conference are sophomores Tim Towne, a criminal justice major, and Angel Victory, an art major, at a session about developing leadership skills.
"I want to congratulate you on being here because you understand the importance of getting a college education," said Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, who delivered the welcome address. "Hats off to you students who are here and are committed to learning."

UTPA created the conference, the first of its kind in South Texas, to help increase the retention rate among sophomores at the University, which is currently about 53 percent.

Students were able to choose from a variety of informative sessions on academic, financial, and personal/social topics, such as selecting a major or career, eating healthy, developing a personal budget and strategies for learning math. Students also enjoyed a free lunch and snacks throughout the day.

Ashley Muñoz, a sophomore majoring in communication studies, said she attended the conference based on the positive experience she had with a freshman camp she attended at UTPA.

"I think the most beneficial thing I learned today was about internships and how having that experience and a degree will make a big difference with employers," Muñoz said. "I'm actually planning to get my résumé ready and start interviewing for some now."

Motivational speaker Kevin Snyder, who shared his story about getting on the TV show "The Price is Right," shows students one of the prizes he won on the show.
Kevin Snyder, motivational speaker for CAMPUSPEAK, finished the day with an enthusiastic lesson about passion, persistence and payoff. By telling the humorous story of his journey to appear on the CBS show "The Price is Right," he showed students how setting goals and pursuing them can lead to satisfaction.

"Our minds are fertile soil," he said. "If you put positive seeds in there, then positive things will grow."

Through various exercises he showed students how to step outside of their comfort zone and identify things in their life that they love.

"I challenge each of you to identify what you're passionate about and find out how to achieve your dream," Snyder said. "And, I challenge you to feel comfortable taking risks."

The sophomore conference was a collaborative effort among the divisions -- Academic Affairs, Enrollment and Student Services and External Affairs and the community -- designed to provide sophomores with information that will help them reach their educational goals.

For more information about the conference, call 956/318-5258.