More than 1,200 students from the Rio Grande Valley are on the Forty Acres, up to six hours from the place they call home. The Texas Exes Brownsville Chapter aims to make sure students from that region never have to feel lost or lonely.
The first-ever Valley Longhorns ConnEXtion reception brought UT students together today at the Alumni Center, where they mixed and mingled with Valley alumni and learned about valuable campus resources.
“The Brownsville Chapter does a send-off for students, but we don’t really hear from them after,” says Letty Fernandez, BJ ’78, Life Member, a past president and current communications chair of the chapter. “We wanted to actually get in contact with the new freshmen and connect them with these resources.”
While visiting booths dedicated to services like UT Financial Aid, University Health Services, and UTPD, attendees were treated to root beer floats and ice cream sundaes. Valley Longhorn Students, a student organization dedicated to providing support and a “home away from home” to Valley students, was on-hand to invite freshmen to join.
“It’s amazing how much support Valley students get at UT,” says Karen Aranda, Valley Longhorn Students’ social chair and a UT senior from McAllen. “The Valley is one of the areas that the University really focuses on and helps us to succeed.”
Ten lucky students were awarded door prizes—gift cards to locations ranging from the University Co-op to Whataburger and Starbucks—that were donated by alumni in Brownsville. By the time the program concluded and everyone raised their horns to sing “The Eyes of Texas,” new friends and connections had already been made.
“I think Valley kids stick together,” Fernandez says. “New students are in transition. This is just a way to help them when they are a long way from home.”
Photo by John Fitch.