UT Outreach, ChemBridge and Students Partnering for Undergraduate Success (SPURS) held their first joint alumni reunion Tuesday to share campus resources and student success stories with former participants now enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin.
About 80 students and staff attended the Pre-College Alumni Reunion sponsored by several programs within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE). The event held in the Texas Union brought together former participants from the UT Outreach Programs in Austin, San Antonio, Rio Grande Valley, Dallas and Houston, and from ChemBridge and SPURS. ChemBridge and SPURS prepare high school students to gain college credit hours in chemistry or rhetoric, while UT Outreach offers college counseling and test prep help.
DDCE pre-college readiness staff organized the event to reconnect with their program alumni, and encourage them to take advantage of campus resources.
Karen Banda, an international nutrition senior, said she found her calling through UT Outreach.
“It made applying to college, taking the SAT, and applying to scholarships smoother,” said Banda. “I also got my first job as an AmeriCorps VISTA because of the program.”
Banda has served as a Gateway Scholars mentor for three years, and says she visits the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE)–DDCE’s academic support center located in the Student Services Building–frequently. She and other panelists also discussed challenges they faced early in college like deciding a major and learning how to enjoy the present, as well as some proud moments.
Chance Vaughan, a public relations sophomore and LCAE mentor, is a first generation college student from a rural community in Texas. He shared that after not performing well in an engineering class he retook the course and aced it. Also, finding the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) program helped him gain confidence as a student. Through IE, he was matched with Charles Lu, graduate student mentor, who he recently presented with at a conference in California. Vaughan was shocked when a college president congratulated him for doing an impressive job.
Student attendees were encouraged to use the Counseling and Mental Health Center.
“You’re going to experience a lot of failures in college, and what matters most is how you bounce back,” said Vaughan.