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UTA Mavericks welcomed, challenged to “find their path”

Thousands of former and current Mavericks attended the Fall 2016 MavsMeet Convocation and AfterParty at College Park Center to kick off the new school year at The University of Texas at Arlington.

Students enjoy the 2016 MavsMeet Convocation at College Park Center.

Ya’Ke Smith, the Morgan Woodward Distinguished Professor of Film in the Department of Art and Art History, delivered the keynote address.

Smith said an academic journey is not always about success but more about failure and learning from each failure.

“Every time someone does a keynote, it's usually filled with clichéd statements: ‘You can do it,’ ‘Just believe,’ ‘You can make it,’ ‘You are the master of your own destiny’ and ‘Success is right around the corner.’ Although these are true statements, most people leave out the most important ingredient that will lead you to success – and that's failure.”

Smith said without failure and learning why the failure occurred, true success can never be attained.

“You have to access the power that God has placed within you to get up and do it all over again,” said Smith, who urged students not to settle for the ordinary. “If you want to be extraordinary, you better work harder and longer and stronger than anybody else. Anyone who distracts you from the goal of overcoming failure is your enemy and might be secretly trying to sabotage your success. Extraordinary people don’t let that happen.” 

Smith did not disappoint with the keynote address. His style of storytelling has produced a rising voice in independent cinema and he spent his summer working in New York on the set of the upcoming HBO series “The Deuce.”

President Vistasp M. Karbhari told the students that how they spend their time at UTA will define their personal lives, their futures and what they leave behind.

“Spread your wings, reach for the stars,” Karbhari urged.

Timothy Quinnan, UTA vice president for Student Affairs, and Laura Baker, student congress president, also addressed the crowd of students, faculty and staff.

John Cottrell, a freshman kinesiology major from Fort Worth, said he attended the convocation to be with his Brazos Hall residence mates.

“It’s a smaller, close-knit residence hall,” Cottrell said. “I’m trying to be more active.”

Madeline Ham-Ose, a transfer student from Weatherford College who also lives in Brazos Hall, said coming to a large campus is quite a change from the community college west of Fort Worth.

“It’s a change, but I’m trying to get involved and be a part of everything that’s going on here at UTA,” Ham-Ose said.

After the welcomes, Smith's address, and a rousing display of school spirit by the UTA Marching Band, cheerleaders and other student-led groups, thousands packed Spaniolo Drive for the AfterParty. The event offered games, food, live music, and other festivities to usher in the first day of classes on Thursday, Aug. 25.

Earlier this week, student, staff and faculty volunteers helped carry boxes of clothes, books, pillows, bedspreads and other knick-knacks into residence halls for the new and returning students.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 “highest research activity” institution of about 55,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at

For more on the Strategic Plan, see Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.