Editor’s Note: In anticipation of the May 1 deadline for admitted high-school students to choose to attend the University, we asked student leaders on campus to tell us why they came to UT. Their responses will appear on the opinion page through Thursday.
My path to the 40 Acres was a winding, but rewarding, one. I made the mistake of not starting my college career as a Longhorn. Instead, I moved from Houston to Ohio to study at a small liberal arts college. I felt limited by the opportunities that were available to me and knew that I was missing out on the chance to use college as an avenue for personal growth. So I decided to transfer.
I did not originally intend to transfer to The University of Texas at Austin. In fact, I thought that I would end up finishing my college career in our nation’s capital. The fall of my sophomore year I visited family in the Washington, D.C., area. It was then that I was convinced that Washington was the place I needed to be. No other area, I reasoned, could give me the same opportunities to engage in meaningful work than Foggy Bottom. I applied to study foreign affairs in a school located blocks from the State Department. Fortunately, I also applied to be a Longhorn.
I was admitted to the university in Washington, D.C. and to Texas. I took most of the summer to decide where I would enroll in the fall. Going to school in Foggy Bottom definitely carried much allure. Texas, however, grew more majestic as the days went on. UT struck me as a complete University driven by pride and the pursuit of excellence. UT seemed to require its students to strive to be the best from the classroom to the football field and to making a lasting difference. I decided to join the UT community and take part in this historic institution.
Becoming a Longhorn has been the best decision that I have made. I have been able to take advantage of matchless opportunities that reflect only a small part of what this University has to offer. I once walked into the Multicultural Engagement Center, known as MEC, because the center’s name intrigued me. A year later, the MEC gave me the chance to work with civil rights organizations to help defend equal access to higher education. I knew I wanted to do more with my time when I was in Ohio. I didn’t know that more would mean speaking on the steps of the Supreme Court with civil rights legends. I once wanted to attend a school of international affairs. UT gave me the chance to be mentored by some of the sharpest minds in public policy as a Next Generation Scholar at the LBJ School’s Strauss Center for International Security and Law. I thought that I would have to give up studying the great books when I transferred. Instead, I have been able to ponder some of the West’s most important works as a scholar with the Jefferson Center for Core Texts and Ideas. Just as important, I have made lifelong friends while working with an incredible Student Government Executive Board.
You will give yourself boundless opportunities if you decide to join the Longhorn community. What you will learn and experience on the 40 Acres can be the basis of deep personal change that doesn’t end with you. As Longhorns are accustomed to saying: What Starts Here Changes the World.
Tang is a history and government senior from Houston with a May 2014 graduation date.