Student Chapter Refocuses, With Alumni, Networking, Inspiration…and Cookies

College students have a thousand different interests, and until recently, the Texas Exes Student Chapter did too.

The largest student organization on campus put on pep rallies, service projects, and a big etiquette dinner, among other events. So when its executive team sat down this year to write a mission statement, it was all over the map.

That’s when Kelsey Roberts, the Texas Exes’ new student relations coordinator, nudged the students to narrow their focus. How could the Student Chapter be of greater service to UT students, particularly upperclassmen?

The answer came quickly: through capitalizing on that alumni base. “We’re housed within the Texas Exes,” Roberts says. “We’re unique in that we have our 99,000 alumni members to draw on.”

The refocused Student Chapter handed traditional pep rallies, like the Big Yell and Torchlight Parade, off to the Spirit and Traditions Council. The chapter itself is now focused on networking, career development—and yes, fun.

Take, for example, its new Alumni Speaker Series. First, Texas Exes president John Beckworth spoke, along with Leslie Cedar, the Exes’ first female CEO. Betty Baker, keeper of Bevo XIV, is among the slated presenters.

And tonight at 7 p.m. here in the Alumni Center’s Legends Room, Tiff’s Treats co-founder Leon Chen, BBA ’01, will offer up his wisdom about starting a successful business. (He’ll offer up not only wisdom, but cookies, too.)

Chen plans to share the unlikely story of how his wildly successful cookie delivery business, now with nine locations, got started. (It involved persuading his delicious-cookie-baking but reluctant now-wife, Tiffany Taylor, BS ’01, to make fliers over winter break during college and try selling students late-night snacks.)

Chen’s story includes a changing business model, 100-hour work weeks, and three years without making a penny. But its ultimate success involves the Longhorn Nation. “The support of the University and the students and Austin in general made it possible,” he says. “If we’d tried this in any other city, I’m sure we would’ve failed miserably.”

Rita Holguin, the Student Chapter’s communications director, thinks not just of the Longhorn Nation, but of the Longhorn Universe. That’s why she’s excited to connect her fellow students with the alumni base. “There are Exes all over the world,” she says. “Having those connections in the real world is so necessary.”

Above: The Texas Exes Student Chapter’s Spring 2012 Etiquette Dinner. Below: Tiff’s Treats co-founders Leon and Tiffany Chen. 


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