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Community, campus says hello to new freshmen class

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Aug. 31, 2010 at 3:31 a.m.


Victoria Chamber of Commerce Community Welcome Event

When: 5 - 8 p.m. , Sept. 9

Where: University of Houston - Victoria, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St., Victoria

For more information contact the Victoria Chamber of Commerce at 361-935-9595.

Community leaders and businesses look forward to the arrival of more than 200 new freshmen students at the University of Houston - Victoria for extra revenues, volunteers and employees.

"Not only do we need their energy, and excitement and passion, but we also feel like if we can engage them in nonprofits. It's kind of like you've got a life-long advocate," said Ginny Stafford, CEO of Mid-Coast Family Services.

Stafford hopes to involve the new freshmen as volunteers and future employees.

Randy Vivian, president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, believes a community welcome event planned for Sept. 9 will help show students that businesses and the community are interested in serving them. More than 50 businesses are expected to attend.

"I think it's extremely important because not only do kids look at academics and degree offering when they look at a university, but they also look at the community," Vivian said. "I would love to see this community embrace this first class and every class that comes in from now on."

The average college student spends about $1,500 in the community where they attend school. Vivian said the expansion of UHV into a four-year university could pump $2.8 billion into the economy within the next 10 years.

Vivian believes businesses who adapt and connect with students will fare better.

"This is a whole new shift for us," Vivian said. "So businesses that recognize that this is a new market are the ones that are going to do well."

The Longleaf Coffee Co. is one of those adapting. The store will offer student discounts and distribute coupons to students during the first week of school.

"We are trying to target the younger people that come to the downtown area," said manager Jared Moore.

He believes welcoming the news students will help small business develop a greater sense of community.

"I think we need to be involved more for sure and I feel like there's a lot of changes to come," Moore said.

Other community groups hope to draw from the student energy. The Rev. Mike Hurt, pastor of Parkway Church, began a young adults student ministry earlier this year with the UHV students in mind. He hopes the group will help students connect with his church.

"I think college students and young adults bring life and energy to a town, which can bring life and an energy to a church and that's exciting," he said.

The campus has welcome events and a part-time job fair planned for the first weeks of school to help the students adjust.

"The main things we're going to be doing is trying to get them acquainted with the community, the chamber of commerce and each other," said Lindsey Koch, UHV director of student life and services."

Koch believes the new class will bring excitement and challenges.

"I think it's going to be an exciting challenge to see how Victoria as a community and UHV meets these students where they are while giving them an opportunity to blend into this community," she said.

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