The number “16” burned brightly on the UT Tower at the 15th annual “Gone to Texas” welcome celebration.
Traditionally held the day before the first day of school, the celebration featured speakers, special performances and an address from UT President William Powers Jr. To accommodate the large class of incoming students, university officials set up about 1,200 additional seats. The event also featured the UT Honor Code, which encourages values like learning and responsibility, despite Powers’ summer announcement that it would be changing within the next few months.
Student body president Thor Lund opened the night with a few encouraging words for the new students.
“We are a truly amazing place, and tonight is the beginning of a year and a lifetime full of wonderful opportunities,” Lund said. “If you haven’t already noticed, Texas has a unique and valid spirit, and at the University of Texas, anything is possible.”
Every year, Gone to Texas welcomes all students new to UT, whether freshman, transfer or graduate students. Junior transfer student Bryce Gibson said it was a good way to start off the year for him.
“I’ve always wanted to come to Texas,” Gibson said. “It kind of gets you in the spirit of Texas.”
In addition to hearing from Powers, students were also encouraged to take advantage of all the opportunities at UT. Biology and anthropology senior Alexa Van Brummen spoke about her experience reaching out to a professor and getting involved in research her first year.
Brummen works on spinal injury reseach and encouraged new students to get involved early in their time at UT.
“I know what all of you are thinking: ‘Meh, I’ll do that later.’ But why not sooner rather than later?” she said. “UT gives you all of the resources to pursue any interest you might have.”