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Longhorn Confidential

Longhorn Confidential

Orientation Advisor Retreat

This past weekend I attended a retreat for Orientation Advisors. Orientation Advisors are the students that work throughout the summer with new students and help them prepare for college, give them helpful information about U.T., and let them know what to expect for the coming year.

Now, I am not one for retreats. I often get overwhelmed by new people, especially people that are my age, and generally shutdown in an attempt to not make waves or be seen. However, the OA Retreat was absolutely amazing. I have been on many retreats through high school and various organizations in college but all fail in comparison to that one.

The first day was from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and was a day to get to know others and have ice breakers. We had breakout sessions and were given some basic knowledge. The Retreat Committee that planned the day did a fantastic job. The facilitators, fellow Orientation Advisors, Orientation Coordinators, and Returning Orientation Advisors helped to make it a night I will not forget.

Day 2, however, was the day that I feel I grew up and had a life changing experience. It is in my opinion, that few events come around that absolutely change your life, the way you think, the way you view the world, and the way you interact with others. Orientation Retreat Day 2 was that day for me.

The early part of the day was spent giving us information about campus issues (safety, alcohol abuse, personal violence). I never knew how much of an issue those three things were until then. I mean, I knew that there was a risk of thefts and that alcohol abuse was common; however, I have never heard a personal story about somebody who had to go through such a thing. Just putting a name to a phrase completely changed my outlook. People shared personal stories and stories about friends. That alone was enough for me to leave a completely different person.

Most of the rest of the day was spent talking and discussing Social Justice and the various aspects that surround it. I feel as though the activities and discussions we had are personal and private because my fellow OA’s had enough faith in me to tell me, so I don’t really want to dive into personal accounts. However, it was one of the most mentally and emotionally fulfilling occasions that I have ever participated in, as well as, one of the most mentally and emotionally draining.

You never know what people have been through in their past that makes them who they are today. You never know the hardships that people have faced because they seem so positive on the surface. You never know that one student has dealt with suicide in their family or that another student grew up dealing with alcohol and drug abuse in their home because they do not let those instances define them. When they would tell their story or stand and walk across the room, they did so with their heads held high.

It opened my eyes and my mind in so many ways. At first I thought of my brother, who is 2, and how much I absolutely love him and how I never want him to have to go through any of the things that they mentioned. I thought of how blessed I was to grow up in a stable home, with two parents that have worked tirelessly throughout the years to make sure that I have had the best life possible. I thought of where I may have ended up had one of my parents past away or if we were financially unable for me to attend this University. It just made me realize how blessed I am, how amazing my support system is and how my childhood has helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Then, I turned and I looked at my fellow orientation advisors. I looked at my fellow students who shared their stories. How much courage it must have taken them to share with us their past. How they held their heads high as they did so. How when asked to raise our hands if something applied to us, nobody was alone. It made me have so much more respect for them, knowing that they have overcome so much and that they are strong people. They are not the type of people that bow down or let a past event be a crutch but they built themselves stronger because of it.

Retreat this weekend was such an amazing experience. I truly made some of the greatest friends I could ever imagine. I gained a whole new appreciation for life. I opened my mind to new ideas and other peoples thoughts on topics. I realized that though I am one, I can be a supporter to many. I learned that we all have dealt with issues in our lives but we choose how to respond to them. I don’t think my fellow OA’s or leaders will understand how much retreat meant to me. It gave me a new view of the world and how I want to change it. I thought of how uncomfortable some situations make me and that they are miniscule compared to what others have had to deal with. I learned that I take so much for granted. I learned how much I need to appreciate this wonderful life I have been given.

I would just like to take this moment to thank all of the people that made this retreat possible. I want to thank all of the students who shared their stories, when they didn’t have to. I want to thank the people in DeKalb that have helped me so much along the way.

I especially want to thank my Mom, Dad, Nana, G, Gran, Pete, Grandmama, Granny and the rest of my family for building and shaping me into the person that I am. I want to make a promise to my brother that I will always be there for you, that I am only a phone call away, and that I will always love you no matter what.

I would like to end this blog, not with a Ciao and Hook’em but with what I learned today in my OA class:

“We do not know all there is to know. Just because you are, doesn’t mean you understand. Just because you are not, does not mean that you can’t or don’t want to. Conflict and discomfort are often part of growth. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Doing your personal work is important, you must heal so you can forgive and let go. There are no quick fixes. There is HOPE.”

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January 31, 2012 | | By Landon | 2 Comments

Productivity City – Part I

Today marks the start of the third week of UT’s spring semester. School has been in session for less than two whole weeks, and I already feel stressed, I have scoured through pounds of reading and study materials, and my Google calendar is filled with bright blue commitments, events, meetings, and activities on top of my regular course schedule. To say that this semester is and will be busy could probably be considered a euphemism. However, I am still very optimistic about having a successful second half of my sophomore year. I have entered what I like to call “productivity city.” In the midst of all this work and my productive efforts, I have been able to find some time to have fun in the city that many believe (including U.S. News and World Report who placed Austin on its list of best places to live) to be one of the most exciting, thriving, and culturally diverse scenes in the nation.

As I share my experiences from the past two weeks, I’d like to begin with the more enjoyable, leisure-filled activities before I discuss my courses and organizational involvements in another two-part blog post. I have also provided some pictures of my Austin outings below! Last weekend, I went to the UT men’s basketball game versus Kansas at the Frank Erwin Center. I have been a devoted and passionate basketball fan since I started playing the game when I was six years old. Although Texas lost, it was a great competition as we came close to winning after playing from behind for the majority of the game. J’Covan Brown, a junior guard, played excellently, leading the team to the near victory. I hope to attend more basketball games this season!

My dad came into town this past weekend, and I finally had the opportunity to show him around Austin. His previous visits have been purposed for moving me in and out of the dorms. This time, however, we really explored the city and packed in as many attractions as we possibly could in the two-day/one-night visit. We had a wonderful time! I took him to South Congress, the trendy south Austin area with great food and vintage retail shops. We ran at the Town Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail, one of Austin’s prettiest, most scenic attractions. Unsurprisingly, there were many hikers, bikers, and walkers (with their dogs) there. Town Lake is a popular spot for kayaking and canoeing, too, and with the weather beginning to get warm, we saw quite a few people out on the water. My dad got to witness Austin’s jam-packed and entertaining nightlife, consisting of music venues, restaurants, and a long strip of bars on the famous and eclectic Sixth Street. We ate at one of my favorite restaurants, Truluck’s, down on 4th St.

The following day, we took a walk through West Campus, the heavily populated student neighborhood just west of the UT main campus and where I currently reside. On the drag, the section of Guadalupe St. that runs along the western edge of the campus, we bought some Longhorn gear at the University Co-op and at Tyler’s. (I finally purchased a Longhorn emblem for my car!) We grabbed brunch at the Old Pecan Street Cafe, a delicious place in the heart of downtown, and ended his trip with a tour of the Texas Capitol. The Texas Capitol is definitely one of my favorite parts about Austin and is the largest state capitol in the nation! The building encompasses a long Texas history and boasts some grand architectural elements. Having the privilege of visiting the Capitol Building on a regular basis that is only minutes from UT is yet another reason why I love being a Longhorn!

In between these outings and favorite activities, I have been hard at work with a full, challenging course load and many extracurriculars on my plate. In Part II, I will discuss my classes, professors, student organizations, and some interesting things taking place on and around campus as well as my search for a new apartment for the next school year. There is plenty to look forward to this semester, and I can’t wait to share with you all! Thank you for reading, and hook ‘em horns!


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January 31, 2012 | | By Ryan | Comments Off

Viva Honduras!!!!

I am part of an organization on campus called Global Architecture Brigades which is a volunteer organization that approaches architecture students with a design competition to design a school, or heath care facility in rural Honduras and then takes it to the community members who choose the winning design. Then the volunteers from each school then raise money to go down to Honduras and help build the school or health care facility. This January, 19 of us from UT joined 18 students from The University of Virginia to help build a school in Santa Rosa, Honduras that both schools helped design. We spent 3 days on the site building, 1 day at an orphanage teaching kids about architecture, and 1 day at a previous site to help paint. It was really hard work but I learned a lot about construction, what it means to be on a construction site, and most importantly it was the most life changing experience that I will never forget. If you want to learn more about Global Architecture Brigades you can click here.

What starts here

I don't know if the statement What Starts Here Changes the World could be any more accurate than it is here. Hook 'Em!!!

I was mainly part of the concrete crew where we mixed concrete by hand with shovels

I was mainly part of the concrete crew where we mixed concrete by hand with shovels

Building a wall.

Building a wall.

This is from the day we spend at the orphanage, we were teaching young girls about bridge building :)

This is from the day we spend at the orphanage, we were teaching young girls about bridge building :)

The is the UT crew at Santa Rosa on the the last day, it was so bitter sweet

The is the UT crew at Santa Rosa on the the last day, it was so bitter sweet

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January 27, 2012 | | By Vikki | 1 Comment

Another one down…

Well, it has been another great week on the 40 Acres!

This week I turned in my first report, had to walk to class in my first rain storm (though I am pretty sure it could be qualified as a monsoon), and am now gearing up for a ton of organizational stuff! All in all, a pretty successful week.

So my first report really shouldn’t be considered a report. It was for my Maps Class that I am taking for Geography. Basically we just had to go to the Map Room in the PCL (that enormous concrete building on Speedway and 21st across from Jester) and choose three maps that cover the same geographic area but are different (physical, political, land use, highways, etc.). We were then asked to cite them and then write a three page paper comparing and contrasting the different features.

First of all, I had no idea where the Map Room was, however, after getting there… IT IS AMAZING!!!! You can pretty much find any map you could ever imagine and then get this… You can check them out. Call me a Geography Nerd, but I just wanted to sit there and go through all of them.

Second, once my nerdy excitement had calmed down, I had to figure out how to cite a map. I had never cited a map… I thought a map was a map and you just said, “Map of Boogloler” but no, there are reference codes, authors, and dates. Luckily, the lady, I don’t remember her name (but shout out if you are reading this, also you had some awesome tattoos) she was great in helping me figure it all out.

Finally, I had to actually do the paper. I had no idea that three maps that covered the exact same area could be so different. I mean, I knew the basic stuff like scale and colors depending on what they were mapping but I had no idea all of the technical terms to look for (aggregation, amalgamation, collapse, refinement, displacement, just to name a few). Needless to say, I will never look at a map the same again. Just another way U.T. has taken something simple and changed it (let me add, for the better!). Anyways, I loved the assignment. Anything that involves me studying a map and I am there!!!

Okay, how about that rain storm! I know we are in a drought and all but that thing was ridiculous. However, U.T. does not stop for some rain (you have to get a tenth an inch of snow for that to happen… which this year, I’m not holding my breath). I am not really one for fashion, but the rain boots that people wear are great! Coming from a small town, I thought rain boots were just black and bulky, but oh no… Rain boots are a way of expression… from polk-a-dot to whale print… It’s hilarious.

We all made it though… Some wet socks (the worst thing ever by the way) and some damp backpacks but I didn’t hear of any slips or falls and no books were harmed. However, as long as you can protect that Chemistry book… You are safe.

As for organizations. This is “joining” season for the spring semester. I hope to have a full blog about it later so I will just talk about what I am doing in my orgs for now.

With Liberal Arts Council we are recruiting for new members. So if you are a major in the College of Liberal Arts and would like to be the official voice of students within the college, I encourage you to apply. We are getting ready to order our shirts, so after I got one of our talented designers within council (Cheyenne, thanks again! You are pretty much amazing) to come up with this amazing tribute design to Jurassic Park (by far one of the greatest movies ever made) I got quotes and we are now in the process of making the order.

With Senate, last night was possibly one of my favorite meetings ever. We were voting and discussing the Election Code and it was crazy. It seemed that all of the Councils were very passionate about how it went and we discussed, amended, cut, and made it into something amazing. People were discussing with others, talking among another councils, looking for compromises and overall, we weren’t too rowdy. (Carisa, you did a great job keeping everything under control!) In my Council, we ended up voting it down on the fact that we wanted it to be tabled until the next meeting so that we could discuss it further with our members. We thought that there were many changes that our members would feel passionately one way or another, so since we were not allowed to discuss the new version with them, we voted nay.

However, when it came to the second piece of legislation, dealing with textbooks and prices, we did table the bill because many Councils felt that they needed more time to read and understand what all was being said. By the end of the night, I felt bad for Kendra, the administrative director, she took all of the minutes by hand.

In conclusion, this weekend is my Orientation Advisor Retreat. It is the time when we will be divided into our committees for summer and we have a chance to finally meet everybody in a huge group setting. We will have a bunch of activities (I’m not sure what all we are doing) but I am sure it is going to be great!

Well, I have to catch up on my readings for the week…

Ciao and Hook’em!


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January 27, 2012 | | By Landon | Comments Off


College is hard.

My mom always said that anything worth having is worth working for.  Well, I’m working and I’m working hard.  I’m fresh off a wonderful semester and now I’m a bit tired.  Where is my motivation?  Where is my perseverance?

I just need an exciting pep talk or someone with extraordinary energy to rub off on me.

It’s been a crazy two weeks. Having an 8am takes a ton of strength.  I warn you, if you are not a morning person do not, I repeat do not, take an 8am class.  Its my Afro-Latino class, which I find very interesting.  Overall, I’m in love with the subject and I actually gain knowledge from the insightful reading about prominent Afro-Latin@ figures in the United States but it is tough to wake up at 6:30 to be there on time.  I’ve said this before: LIVE ON CAMPUS!

No matter what, I will do well.

If anything worth having is worth working for, then I believe that this education is worth all of this work I’m putting in.  All of the hours studying, in office hours, being involved in organizations, upholding my spiritual values, maintaining friendships and family-ships and maintaining myself can get really stressful but I know that the 5 years I spend here will shape me into a strong woman.

My friend Paulina told me that I need to make a choice to stay motivated.  Motivation doesn’t depend on how you feel at the moment.  Today I wrote my goals on a notecard and slipped it into my planner.  I took another and did the same thing and slipped it in my notebook.  I’m going to put one in my closet when I get home as well.  That way everyday I will be reminded of why I am here.

Lesson#__: Nothing worth anything is ever easy.

Life can be a bit tough especially during college but I encourage you to never lose sight of your goals.  Take time to write them down, draw them out, make a video or song and look at or listen to it daily.  It will help you to stay focused and motivated during hard times.

“Winners never quit and quitters never win!” – Vince Lombardi

True story.

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January 25, 2012 | | By Jelisa | 1 Comment

Construction Construction Construction

There seems to be a lot of construction going on around campus, whether it be new buildings on campus or construction documents due in my Construction V class. Either way it seems to be consuming my life. Here is the good news, I find it extremely fascinating, which is important since this is about to become my life, haha. Part of my Construction V class is to go on a few site visits so that we can get an idea of what it is like to be on a construction site. Because of all the new buildings going up on campus, we got an opportunity to go one of them as a class. It we particularly cool because it was kind of in the between stage where its not really a building yet because its not inclosed or usable, but no one can deny how much of a substantial impact it has made on the campus already just by standing tall. So I just wanted to share some of the experiences that an architecture student gets that the rest of the study body misses out on. Here are some photos from our visit:

Construction professor

my construction professor Juan Miro showing us how they use a small mock up on site

New building

this will be the entrance

New building view

this building is going to have a great view of the tower!

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January 25, 2012 | | By Vikki | Comments Off

Bring it Back, bring it, bring it, bring it back

It’s my sixth semester of college and I still get the jitters when I’m walking into a classroom for the first time.

I still wait until the second day to talk to my professor.

I still dress nice the first day.

Sure, I’m a professional college student (I’m a third year) but that first day of class always makes me nervous, excited and determined.

Austin, I’m back…

I came back to Austin about two weeks ago. After a three hour long ride belting out top 40 songs with my friends, I was happy to settle in to my new apartment.  I finally saw my first poetry slam with my friend Lydia, reunited with my friends Ja’ Michael and Lisa and welcomed my new friend Juan to Austin.  Austin was waiting for me and it was every bit as extraordinary as it was when I left it in December.

First day of school already?

The relaxed times of Winter break are gone and all of a sudden I have to roll out of bed at 6:30 am so that I can make it to my 8:00 am class on Afro-Latinos with Professor Josianna Arroyo.  I have to work to contain my enthusiasm in that class because learning about Black history is makes me proud.

So, I’ve finally settled on classes after add/drop after add/drop.  Afro-Latino Culture, Theatre History, African American Theatre History, Biology and Intro to Non-profits. It all sounds great to me but I must admit I am NOT excited about Biology but I just found out my friend Ja’Michael is in that class so I’m a bit happy.

I’ve spent this past week reconnecting with friends I didn’t get to see, reading for classes (yes, it’s already started!) and volunteering for the IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth) conference where I saw free theater (always a perk to volunteering). This weekend I went to 6th street with my friends and believe it or not parents who read this: There is the Ebus, free for any UT student, that takes students to sixth street and back to West Campus and Riverside.  I also picniced in Zilker for the first time.


See kids, you can be safe and have fun, the Ebus is the way to go!


An amazing afternoon spent with some old friends and making new ones

Mac and cheese

Courtney made some good Mac and Cheese


Meet my friends Tiffany and Courtney

Lesson #__: Everyone faces battles.  You are not alone.

I recently attended a seminar on Self-Esteem.  Having battled those issues myself, I was interested in hearing what the speakers would have to say about self-confidence.  As I listened to the stories, I realized that as college students we all face challenges.  Whether it be self-esteem, academics or relationships.  It’s important to surround yourself with others who support you and to be your own cheerleader.

The most amazing thing happened to me today.  My friend Kate, from last semester’s Spanish class, told me that from the moment she meet me that God put it on her heart to tell me that He made me beautiful. Just hearing that made me smile.

Lesson#__: No matter what your spiritual beliefs are you should try to make others smile when you get the opportunity.

Jelissa laughing

I have no idea what I was laughing at!

I’m really excited for what this semester holds.   Getting back to the grind is never easy but I’m handling it.  I’m looking forward to sharing all the rainbows, butterflies and challenges that this semester will bring with you all.  Let’s get ready for this wild ride!

I saw this at Cafe Medici on the drag. “Lovely never ever change keep that beautiful charm.”

The quote at Cafe Medici

The quote at Cafe Medici

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January 23, 2012 | | By Jelisa | 3 Comments

I Measured Water for Four Hours Last Night

My second semester here at UT just began. No. It confronted me, a defenseless little soul against drawn swords and cocked guns. I’ll just take a sliver of time to rant about my biology lab than actually doing my lab analysis.

So I just spent a great deal of time in a cramped little room taking painful measurements of water. Yes, water. Not hydrochloric acid, not formaldehyde, not a glucose solution. Water. And what did I have to do with said water afterwards? Pour it down a drain. I spent four hours measuring water. And now I have to answer too many questions about it. I spent three hours with my lab partners today churning out our responses to our detailed observations in lab. And we’re still not done. (And yes, we are still giving our best, most intellectually conceived answers, not some hastily molded answer from Wikipedia. So if you are responsible for grading our lab report, and you are reading this, just know that, despite our frustration, we are still putting our best foot forward).

Let’s just see how these next few weeks roll by with so many harder classes this semester. I would strive to write something more meaningful if I could. But, alas, my status as a full-time student and not a full-time blogger inhibits my ability to do so.

Hopefully, some good news will come this way soon.

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January 21, 2012 | | By Khang | 3 Comments

Reflection, Rejuvenation, and Resolutions – Part II

2011 was a year of tremendous change and growth. As we reflect on another year passed, we collectively create resolutions to better ourselves for the coming one. In undertaking these resolutions, we hope to improve upon our current lives, but we often encounter a problem with these resolutions — their transience.

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January 19, 2012 | | By Ryan | 2 Comments

Sleep is for the Weak.

Like I have said numerous times before, architecture students don’t really have a “normal” finals week. Yes we still have final exams in most of our classes, but for our design studio class we have what is called Final Review. Like Mid Review, Final Review is where we pin up all of our work that we have done for the final project, and get critiqued one by one by visiting and local architects, as well as current architecture professors. So after about two to three weeks of non stop preparing for this day with nights of little sleep and day full of staring at a computer screen, we present a hopefully concise project. Considering my circumstances with dealing with my friend passing away this semester, I did what I could with my design of a theoretical chapel for the St. Edwards campus. The reviewers were: Kevin Alter,……. My review when well, they really enjoyed my idea and where I was going with it, but they have the comment that it needed to be pushed further and thought out a little better and I couldn’t agree more. Kevin Alter actually gave me this comment about my chapel that I found really funny, he said: “you know what your front façade reminds me of? Have you seen the graduate?” I reply “no but it’s on my Netflix instant queue list” laughing he says “oh my god, I must be old. Well go and watch it because there is this great scene at the end where Dustin Hoffman bangs on the window of the glass to stop the wedding of his true love”. Haha, well Kevin, if you are reading this, I did watch it and it was a strange but good movie, and yes my proposed chapel would be perfect for reenacting this scene from the movie!

My friend Parker building this really awesome expandable table with no leaf needed for the wood design class.

My friend Parker building this really awesome expandable table with no leaf needed for the wood design class.

This is my friend Blair explaining her project to reviewers.

This is my friend Blair explaining her project to reviewers.

This is me getting reviewed, I think Kevin Alter just said something about The Graduate

This is me getting reviewed, I think Kevin Alter just said something about The Graduate

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January 17, 2012 | | By Vikki | Comments Off

your photo here