Name: Theresa Ockrassa
Hometown: Cedar Park, TX
Major: Plan II
Favorite study spot: If it’s sunny, the South Mall; if it’s cold or wet, the Union.
Just How Amazing UT Is
I came to UT after Hurricane Katrina prevented me from going to [another school in New Orleans]. When I registered for classes, everyone had already been in school for two weeks. I had to make up the work, move in, and figure out how to get around campus in half a week. Everyone on campus was so understanding, helpful, and caring. I made it through the experience and discovered just how amazing UT is. I absolutely love it, and that’s why I’ve decided to stay here for the next three years.
Find Your Niche
The first thing you should do on campus is find your niche. Everyone needs to be involved in an organization that interests them. Whether it’s fencing, film club, ballroom dancing, a service organization, or even a gaming club, you need to find a group of people who you can connect with and you can trust. These friends can guide you in your first semester and will become your closest friends.
I joined the Student Events Center Madrigal Dinner Committee for their Madrigal Dinner. The cast and choir really welcomed me and were so incredibly supportive. I love them all so much and they are now among my closest friends.
My sophomore year I also joined the Army ROTC Detachment here on campus. While I know the combination of theatre and the military is a bit bizarre, I have enjoyed every minute of it. The experiences I have had through my time in that organization have shaped me as a person and as a leader. Also, the bonds I have made with the other cadets (students) are stronger than your normal friendships. Find the organization(s) that support your interests and get involved. You’ll be amazed how many friends you make and how much you will grow as an individual.
One for the History Books
When I decided to join Army ROTC, I had originally planned on being an observer for the first semester to see whether or not I truly wanted to become involved. That’s not always the best plan, though, because you never really know if you’ll enjoy something until you get involved. So, when I was encouraged to join the ROTC Ranger Detachment, I decided to try it out. Nothing could have prepared me for the weeks that followed.
The next 6 weeks of training for the Ranger Challenge competition in October were the most draining and rewarding weeks of my life. Through those weeks, I not only got in shape, but I made extremely close friends as well as gained a confidence in myself that I hadn’t experienced before. When we got to competition, I was honored to be on a team with such amazing individuals. The icing on the cake for the entire weekend was when our team won the competition for the first time in school history. I never would have expected to even be able to compete, let alone win against all the schools in our brigade (which includes all the army detachments in Texas as well as most of Oklahoma and New Mexico). It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.
Make Lots of Friends Quickly
As a freshman, I lived in Kinsolving. It was extremely convenient to be so close to everything on campus. It really is a great way to stay informed with all the activities on campus and to make a lot of friends quickly. I moved off campus my sophomore year, however, because I missed having a kitchen. The dining halls are extremely convenient and cheap, but I missed cooking and baking.
What I think about…
Don’t wait until the last night to study! High school and college exams are totally different. What was good enough for an A in high school might give you a C in some college exams. Constantly look over your notes throughout the semester and study in plenty of time before the exam.
What to wear/not to wear
Wear walking shoes! At first you may be concerned about looking cute to go across campus to your class, but you will kill your feet by wearing cute shoes and trekking across campus. Wear sneakers or flip flops!
Getting involved in campus activities and organizations is the fastest way to make friends that share your interests and hobbies. In a campus this large, there are more student organizations than you can imagine. No matter what you’re interested in, there will be an organization for you. From ballroom dance to martial arts, there are groups of students on campus that share your interests. If for some reason there isn’t a group you want, the university provides resources for you to start your own organization!
Benefits of interacting with others
Everyone is beyond helpful. Professors, counselors, TAs, and other students are all willing to make time in their schedules to help anyone who is willing to work. Whenever I have been confused on a concept, in need of guidance, or just needed to talk, they have always been there for me.
Learning to Think
I was extremely blessed to come to a university with a degree like Plan II. I love learning in general and Plan II has provided me with a major that not only gives me the opportunity to study a variety of subjects, but it also teaches me how to think and analyze life. The interdisciplinary approach to learning fits my personality and my love of learning all types of things. Plan II also provides me with a social group to have intellectual conversations with on any topic. I have friends who share my major but will be going to Law School, Med School, or even working in an embassy. I love my major and I couldn’t have it at any other university.
When I arrived at UT, I was double majoring in theatre and Plan II. Despite my love for theatre, I decided to drop that major to allow myself the ability to take courses in multiple disciplines and still graduate in 4 years. I also realized that I can be involved in theatre and take a few more theatre courses without having a theatre major.
More about Theresa
Study location on campus or off campus
- If it’s sunny, the South Mall. If it’s cold or wet, the Union
Place to eat on or near campus
- Which Wich is a good place to go for a healthy meal that still tastes great.
Class (so far)
- Musical Theatre in American Culture
- Wow, I can’t pick just one…I would have to say anything by J.K. Rowling, Mercedes Lackey, C.S. Lewis, or Anne McCaffrey
- Sleeping Beauty and Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Thing about Austin
- Everyone is really accepting, and you feel welcome from day one.
Pastime / Recreational activity
- I love singing any time or any place. I randomly break out into song…sometimes at really awkward times.
Send Theresa an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.