Longhorn Legislative Aides, an organization within Student Government, has been helping college freshmen get acquainted with the 40 Acres for 15 years, and now transfer students in their first year at UT are welcome to apply.
SG president Colton Becker and vice president Mehraz Rahman said they knew they wanted to open LLA to transfer students when creating their platform last year. They met with LLA co-directors Nikita Telang and Ricky Cooks as well as the Transfer Students Agency throughout the summer to make it happen.
“A (representative) found in the (SG) constitution that the LLA program is to be open to all first-year students,” nutrition senior Becker said. “It’s actually in the constitution. It’s been overlooked for years.”
Becker said the proposal initially received pushback — transfer students may be older than their sophomore directors or already have the skills the program teaches — but they are glad the program is now more inclusive.
“There was a concern that the culture was meant for people who are first entering college in general and not for people who have already been to college in some form,” said Rahman, a Plan II and marketing senior. “But (many of these experiences) are the exact experiences they haven’t had and … would be helpful for them entering UT.”
LLA accepts 21 students each year who are mentored by the executive board, SG assembly members and LLA alumni as they learn how to write legislation, fundraise for different organizations and engage in service projects.
“LLA provides all sorts of avenues for you to explore the things you’re passionate about in your first year at UT,” psychology sophomore Telang said. “We encourage students to use the program and its resources as a way to find yourself and what you love on this campus.”
While Becker said some in SG have previously been resistant to change, Telang said they are happy to take the executive board and other agencies’ advice in this new chapter.
“When Ricky and I were chosen as directors, one of the things we promised ourselves was to have the best interest of the LLA program at the front of our minds,” Telang said. “(We) wanted to make sure that we were not making this decision blindly and really took the time to educate ourselves on the issues transfer students face here on this campus.”
Telang said she expects the program to be just as professionally and socially enriching as before, even as it shifts and expands.
“Both Ricky and I are excited to work with any new development or change for the betterment of the program,” Telang said. “The qualities of being an LLA include a desire for a deeper integration within student government, and that can benefit all students.”