To achieve their goal of providing what is best for students to succeed, UT faculty and staff must start from the very beginning of a student's college career: freshman year.
UT has created the Welcome Leaders Program, designed to ease freshmen into many different aspects of life on a large college campus.
During Welcome Week, each freshman student is assigned to a specific group led by one Welcome Leader. Each Welcome Leader has the responsibility of guiding his or her group through all of the different activities during Welcome Week, including the Life of the Mind discussion groups that each student is required to take part in.
There are over 170 upperclassmen taking the Welcome Leader position to help make sure every freshman has a smooth, stress-free transition into the UT atmosphere.
Throughout Welcome Week, the Welcome Leaders will be at each event pointing students in the right direction and even showing them where their individual classes are located.
The leaders are part of a program that was launched by the Office of Student Activities.
The Welcome Leaders Program is a type of mentoring opportunity for the new students to get to know some of the upperclassmen at UT and get a feel for how to survive college, said Ashleigh Moyer, the office director. The program helps students achieve academic success and familiarizes new students with all the resources available on campus while introducing freshmen to the new and old traditions UT has to offer.
Even after Welcome Week concludes, new students are still encouraged to contact their Welcome Leaders if they ever have any questions or need advice throughout the year.
One of the Welcome Leaders, Brandi Panter, senior in English, joined the program to help new students avoid being those freshmen on campus who do not know anyone and have a hard time meeting new people.
"I want to make new students feel welcome and glad they came to UT and to assure them that they always have someone to talk to at any time," Panter said.
New students are encouraged to take part in the Welcome Week activities and to take advantage of the resources offered to them during this week as well as throughout their entire academic career.
Two friends, Jennifer Brown, freshman in business management, and Michael Woods, undecided freshman, were two of the thousands of new students who took advantage of the Welcome Week opportunities.
"It was really helpful that they showed us where all of our classes were," Brown said. "I would never have made it to some of my classes without that help."
Woods felt the same sentiments regarding the program.
"It was really fun being able to go to all of the events and go around campus and see where everything was," Woods said. "Welcome Week has been a lot of fun and I feel more confident walking across campus with getting lost."
Students are also encouraged to stay involved on campus with other activities, including the other programs within the Office of Student Activities such as the Central Program Council. The CPC is the center for student programming promoting all areas of development in students.
Another program within Student Activities is Team VOLs. This program focuses on community service and outreach. It is designed to get students involved, not only with the UT campus, but within their community and the rest of the world. The Welcome Leaders introduced both programs to students, prompting Woods to already get involved on campus.
"I did Ignite and had a lot of fun," Wood said. "I met so many awesome people. I also plan on getting involved in a recreation club."
There are many opportunities to get involved on campus: Welcome Week is just the beginning. Staff and faculty hope that all students, new and returning, get or stay involved on campus and make their college experience one to remember.