Friday, May 17, 2013

Time to Reflect

By Saron Zekiros

I can't believe my freshmen year is over. Now that summer break has begun, it's time to reflect.

I can truly say I had a great first-year experience. I had a very funny way of ending up at UT Dallas, but luckily I hit the jackpot. I was placed in a dorm with some awesome roommates and met some great friends along the way. I enrolled in interesting courses with some amazing professors like Business Law with Professor Polze, World Geographic Regions with Dr. Vakulenko and Macroeconomics with Professor Ketsler, whose joy of teaching is reflected in the classroom environment.

I was involved in several clubs (IPESA, Circle K, and ESA) that kept me engaged. I recommend this to you all if you aren't already involved in a club/organization/sport on campus. It’s a good stress-reliever from classes.

Through my involvement in UT Dallas clubs I heard about the Univesity of North Texas Middle Eastern Conference, and through the Pre-Law Society, I had the opportunity to visit the Baylor Law School. For those students who are either considering majoring in IPE (International Political Economy) or have that major, I encourage you to join IPESA. Some of my favorite moments come from my involvement with that club!

My experiences in the fall and spring semesters seem like polar opposites even though I enjoyed both. From late nights studying with friends for an upcoming exam to attending the different plays, concerts, and shows on campus, my UT Dallas experience was surprisingly much better than I expected it to be.

I learned a lot of good lessons along the way that I hope to share with the incoming freshmen class such as always putting school first, but remembering not to neglect the experiences of growing up and creating memories with friends.

I leave you with these three things...

1. This campus is diverse with people coming from different backgrounds so find those that you mesh well with and your freshmen year will be a lot more enjoyable!

2. Find clubs on campus that match your hobbies, interests or skills and join! If you can't find one, then start one of your own! (be a pioneer!)  The old saying that UT Dallas is a "dead" campus will slowly disappear if more people are involved in campus activities.

3. UT Dallas is lucky to have some really esteemed professors so take advantage of the knowledge and experience they have to offer!

Finally, I hope everyone has an enjoyable summer! See you all in the fall :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

A School on the Rise

By Blake Eaton

A few weeks ago, I had a long conversation with a friend about why we decided to attend UT Dallas. Both of us performed well in high school and could have gone to any number of “top-tier” schools. Harvard beckoned to me, but I still came to UT Dallas. Both of us made that decision, but my friend wondered if it was the right decision.

I never had that crisis of confidence. I knew that UT Dallas was the right school for me, but I had to ask myself: Why? The answer: UT Dallas is a school on the rise.

Compared to the Ivy Leagues and other more established schools, UT Dallas is fairly young. That’s especially true when one considers the fact that it only recently turned its focus to becoming a residential college. 

To be certain, going to an older school with established institutions can provide a whole host of benefits. With time comes experience, and that experience can serve to make the organization more influential. Perhaps just as important, older organizations carry more prestige, and prestige can carry people a long way in their careers.

There’s one thing missing in that equation, though. When someone joins a longstanding organization, traditions have already been entrenched. The culture of the organization is, more or less, set in stone. What’s more, leadership is hard to come by in such organizations, and newer students especially have to wait before they can stand out among their peers.

Here at UT Dallas, we have our fair share of established organizations. There’s the John Marshall Pre-Law Society. There’s Mock Trial. There’s Moot Court. More importantly, though, we have plenty of room for more student organizations.

This year, I started a new organization on campus called Whoosh the Vote. As the presidential election grew near, we registered hundreds of students to vote. We were out and about on campus, reminding people to go to the polls, to make their voices heard. Unlike other organizations, registering people to vote wasn’t a side project for us. It was our central purpose, and we were proud to make a difference on campus.

As Vice President of Whoosh the Vote during the fall semester, I experienced firsthand the difficulties of establishing a new organization. Even as I went out three days a week to register people to vote, I had to move my way through the university in pursuit of official recognition. Working with others—not just to maintain something, but to start something—is an invaluable experience. As UT Dallas grows, more and more students will be able to gain that experience, and the lessons they learn will last a lifetime.