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Class of 2011 and returning students move into dorms
By Melissa Vasquez, Senior Editor
381-3639
Posted: 08/25/2007
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For Dalia Cantu of Harlingen, Texas helping her 18-year-old daughter, Stephanie Dee Cantu, move into The University of Texas-Pan American's Unity Hall was a surreal experience as her little girl prepares to start her first semester of college and for the first-time experience living away from home.

"Last night I was feeling a little nervous, but you know what I realized, that I have to let her go," Dalia said.

With her daughter only an hour away, she said living on campus will be good for Stephanie as it will help her become a more responsible individual. Her advice to parents going through her similar situation is to be patient and let their children grow.


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Pictured are some of the volunteers who helped students move into Unity Hall Aug. 24. Leading the pack is Kappa Sigma Fraternity member and sophomore Ricardo Alejandro Vega.
"I think that is how they get to be responsible and independent and everything that comes along with that. They are going to learn that when they don't have mom and dad here, they are going to need to see which is the right way to go and do things," she said.

Stephanie, a biology major with the hopes of becoming a pharmacist, said she is really excited about experiencing college life and is looking forward to living in Unity Hall, the two-year-old residential facility. As she moved into the first floor of the dorm, Stephanie was assisted not only by her mother, but also her sister Angela.

"I think I'm the one that has brought in the most stuff today, I think I win that contest," Stephanie said as she settled into her new campus digs.

The Cantu's were among hundreds of students and families who spent Friday, Aug. 24 moving into the campus dormitories and Bronc Village during Bronc Move-In Days, which continues Saturday, Aug. 25. The fall 2007 semester at UTPA begins Monday, Aug. 27.

Volunteers from campus organizations and Residence Life personnel helped students and their families unload their vehicles and cart their bedding, ironing boards, clothes, plants and other items into the 396-bed facility.

Kappa Sigma Fraternity members arrived early to the move-in day to welcome incoming students to the University and answer their questions about campus life.

Ricardo Alejandro Vega, a sophomore marketing major and Kappa Sigma member, said since arriving in the morning he had already assisted a handful of students and their families.

"We got here early because we wanted to make sure we helped everyone move in," Vega said.


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Pictured left to right are Patricia Cantu, entering freshman, who is moving into her dorm with the assistance of volunteers Marc Alvares, sophomore political science major; Anabel Martinez, senior business major; and Ana Franco, senior political science major.
He said his best advice to new students is to get to know people on campus and not be shy about it.

"The more people you know, the more help you will get," he said.

Alison Saenz, 18, of San Isidro, Texas, said she is looking forward to an exciting year at UTPA and said the only downside of living away from home is that she will miss her mom's home-cooked meals. Alison is one of 12 students out of 150 applicants to be accepted into the UTPA/UT Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program. The program played a major role in her decision to attend UTPA.

"I'm looking forward to becoming independent ... Now I'm going to be on my own and make my own decisions. So I am kind of excited about that," Alison said.

Alison's mother, Leticia Saenz, said going away to college is part of growing up and she has prepared herself for this day. Leticia said with only an hour's distance between her and Alison, she will be able to frequently visit her daughter and treat her to lunch or dinner when she can.

"I remember when I left for college 30 years ago, now I know what my mom went through," Leticia said.

She said her relationship with Alison is rock solid and she knows that will help her in the adjustment of her daughter not living at home.

"We have a really good relationship, we are really good friends, and we are very open with each other. I think if you have that with your son or daughter the break away is a lot easier," Leticia said.

Chad Martin, Residence Life director, said he expects the residence halls – Unity Hall and Heritage Hall – and Bronc Village to hit their full capacity of more than 800 by the end of the semester. To date, more than 727 students have signed up to live on campus. An unofficial headcount for incoming freshmen is at 369 while the returning student number is estimated at 320 and growing for on-campus living Martin said.

He said the Residence Life Office will continue to take applications for those interested in living on campus. If needed, Martin said Troxell Hall, which is currently undergoing renovations, would open to accommodate more students.

"We want to bring everybody in that wants to be here. We will accept applications all the way through the semester, he said.

Martin said there are many benefits to living on campus including not dealing with the commute or the high gas prices as well as getting a boost in students' grade point averages, which for an average resident is at 3.2 compared to an average University student of 2.7. In addition, Martin said students are 33 percent more likely to graduate if they live on campus just one year of their academic career.

This year, Martin said the Residence Life Office has implemented new changes for their residents including keeping the residence halls open during the holidays and breaks at no extra cost to the student. Also, he said visitation policies will be changed to become a little more flexible for the residents and their visitors.

Martin said the University has seen a big change in on-campus living since he started five years ago when about 300 students lived on campus.

"I think we can really compete with anybody. Our rates are good, our prices are good, our services are outstanding, and we have great staff members," Martin said.

For more information on residence life, visit http://www.utpa.edu/reslife/.