"Futures So Bright" was the message sent to students at the fourth annual Freshmen Convocation Sept. 3 at the Student Union, as the class of 2013 was given an official welcome into The University of Texas-Pan American family.
Entering freshmen were greeted with a pair of sunglasses and welcomes from UTPA administration and deans, Student Government representatives and Bucky the Bronc, UTPA's mascot. The UTPA Blazers dance team, cheer team and Men's Choir also welcomed the students with special performances.
Phillips went on to introduce the deans of the six colleges, among other key administration figures and student leaders.
Dr. John Edwards, vice president of Enrollment and Student Services, was proud to say that the class of 2013 is the largest freshmen class ever seated at UTPA with more than 2,900 students.
"Not only are you the largest class, but you are also the best prepared," Edwards said."More of you were in the top 10 percent of your high school class, had the highest ACT score average as a group and needed fewer developmental courses."
Edwards also discussed the upcoming changes UTPA plans to undertake. He told students about the possible expansion of the Student Union, a new cycling and walking trail to be constructed and the new aquatic program at the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex. He also spoke of all the services and resources UTPA already offers to its students.
"We are on our way to success, and all of you can be successful too. Just commit to the process," Edwards said. "All of this is just a drop of what you will continue to learn."
Edwards ended by wishing the students a great semester and to remember that teaching and learning are UTPA's focus and that the University is committed to helping students succeed.
Student Government Association President, Raghuveer Puttagunta, shared tips that he has learned throughout his college career: go to class, network with classmates and professors, take advantage of UTPA services, experience the world by traveling abroad if possible and get involved in campus organizations and events.
"College is more than just classes and homework, it's also about student life and having the best college experience," Puttagunta said. "What I hope you gain most of all is confidence in decisions and in your success of not only being leaders of tomorrow, but leaders of today."
Following the convocation, students were escorted by SGA members to a lunch with their corresponding colleges, where they had the opportunity to meet with the dean and faculty of their college.
Entering freshman, Maria Castillo, a mechanical engineering major, said she felt inspired and encouraged after listening to Edwards.
"I am looking forward to being a student here and finishing my degree," Castillo said. "I want to meet new people and get involved with organizations in my major."
Adrian Reyna, nursing major and freshman at UTPA, felt the same.
"I am so excited now about college and my classes," said Reyna. "After being called a leader of today, I felt inspired about my goals and major."
Reyna said he plans to get involved in a fraternity, but most importantly wants to get good grades, become a nurse and live his dreams.
In the words of Edwards to students, "Your eyes should be on the prize: a degree."