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First freshmen arrive on campus at UHV


June 23, 2010 at 1:23 a.m.

Stephanie Hermes, 18, of Hallettsville, talks to Freddy Lafuente, 18, of Houston, during UHV's first freshman orientation. During the "Ice Breaker" session of orientation, freshmen had to talk to other students to find out a little more about them.

Benito Salazar, an 18-year-old San Antonio native tiredly pulled $150 from a worn wallet.

Salazar, who plans to be a member of the first freshman class, attended the school's first orientation Wednesday. With his deposit, he secured a spot at Jaguar Hall after the day-long orientation.

"How I see it is I'm starting fresh and the school's starting fresh, so we're both starting fresh," said Salazar, who is the first in his family to attend college.

About 100 students and parents attended the program, which included registering for classes, workshops and answers to help soothe freshmen nerves.

Most of the students, like Salazar, are from larger cities, and the orientation provided a first taste of Victoria.

Salazar believes the quiet atmosphere will help him stay on track with school work.

"It's a small town, so it's going to give me more time to focus," he said.

Kelly Tough, a 17-year-old from Katy, cited the small-town atmosphere and small teacher-student ratio as the main reasons why she chose to come.

"I like that it's smaller than Houston or places like that," she said. "You get to know people better."

With the new class comes new traditions, which the staff hopes to start in the fall.

"We're hoping to survey the students to find out what exactly they like and what they want to do," said Zoeann Byerly, coordinator of student activities and services. "I think based on that, that'll give them the first foundation to build on as far as traditions go."

Coordinators believe Jaguar Hall, UHV's new residence hall, will serve as a place to build traditions.

"I think it just builds a sense of community when you do something just because everybody at UHV does it," said Lindsey Koch, director of student life and services. "You instantly feel a part of a community of other students."

The hall, which holds 256 students, is 53 percent full, said Alexandra Baker, director of housing. So far, 295 freshmen are planning on attending.

Baker believes there will be enough room at the hall in the fall. Backup plans include placing students in hotels or host residences and combining hall staff two per room instead of one.

"I've done this for 15 years," she said. "There'll be enough space."

Baker is not sure about future housing needs as students enroll in the coming years.

"They're already talking about wanting more housing. It's just a matter of when it happens," she said.

Salazar, who left from San Antonio at 5 a.m. Wednesday, was preparing to drive back in the afternoon after paying his housing deposit.

He believes the school is close enough to still make the trips often and felt secure about the upcoming year.

"I feel more guided," he said. "I had other offers, but this was the best one so far."



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