UTA professors and classmates ‘could help change your life’
A sea of blue-and-orange-clad students, faculty and staff flooded College Park Center at The University of Texas at Arlington to celebrate the beginning of a new school year.
MavsMeet Convocation started with a bang Aug. 22, as cannons fired UTA T-shirts into the crowded arena during the event’s kick-off roll call. Representatives from student organizations including academic clubs, the Movin’ Mavs wheelchair basketball team and UTA’s resident assistants chanted and cheered as the emcee welcomed the Maverick community back to campus.
UTA President Jennifer Cowley greeted the crowd and shared warm memories of her childhood experiences at the University.
“My early experiences of connecting to this great university were so valuable, and I trust that yours will be as well,” she said. “Whether you are a new student joining campus for the first time or a returning student continuing your education journey, I hope you feel at home here.”
MavsMeet is part of Maverick Stampede, a series of events that kicks off the academic year. Between guest speakers, student organizations entertained the crowd with a variety of performances, including a mariachi song and hip-hop dances.
During a snappy rendition of Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” by the Maverick Melodies, UTA’s student orientation leaders rushed to the center of the floor for an impromptu dance party as audience members swayed their cell phone flashlights in rhythm.
Destiny Simmons, a sophomore nursing student and member of the UTA Wranglers, was one of the many student volunteers who helped to make sure convocation was a success.
“UTA is our home away from home,” Simmons said. “Part of my job tonight is to make people feel welcome and comfortable. This is a safe space where anyone can make new friends.”
Near the end of the celebration, Cowley introduced alumna Peyton Iheme (’03 BA, Communication), who has worked at the White House, U.S. embassies and the Department of Defense. She is now the head of public policy at Bumble, an online dating application. During a brief interview with Iheme, Cowley asked what advice she would give to UTA’s students.
“At the beginning of my career, I experienced a lot of hiccups. There wasn’t a straight path to where I am now,” Iheme said. “When you face obstacles, persevere. Always bet on yourself.”
Iheme emphasized the importance of her relationships that started at UTA, citing inspiring faculty mentors and close friends.
“Some of the best friends that you will ever have in your life are in this room tonight,” she said. “Take time to get to know your professors and classmates. They could help change your life.”
In a thunderous finale, UTA’s marching band, cheerleaders, color guard and spirit teams encircled the arena, leading the crowd to sing UTA’s fight song. At the end of the chorus, fireworks erupted from the stage and blue and orange streamers exploded from the ceiling onto the audience below. Excited chatter rumbled through the arena as students traveled from their seats to the afterparty at the University Center.
Nathan Morris, a junior information systems student and orientation leader, said he is looking forward to his job as a student leader this semester.
“It’s a lot of fun to help new students navigate their first semester at the University,” he said. “We want every student to know that UTA is a friendly environment where they can find a place to belong.”