Fashion, High Art
on the Sidelines
arrived at UNT on a sweltering summer day, excited to begin their
But Nick Arbolino, Rebecca Johnson, Heidi Jones, Sandra Lorden and
Karina Montoya still had their worries. They didn’t know which
classes to take or how many. They didn’t know how they would
find enough time to study, get involved in campus activities, make
friends and do their laundry. They were concerned about fitting
in at a large university, having enough money to pay for school,
and being smart enough or talented enough to succeed.
By the end of the year, many of those worries had evaporated. Now
they’re pros at registering for classes, meeting strangers
and sorting blue jeans from whites, and they’ve learned more
about how to balance studying with working and having fun.
They made it through their freshman year. And they’re ready
to share their experiences with North Texan readers.
(right) made friends quickly, enjoying a party at the Union
during Freshman Orientation.
of UNT’s 2001 freshmen, the year began in July with three
fast-paced days of orientation. The agenda included registering
for fall semester classes, taking placement tests, learning about
student organizations and touring the campus.
an Azle High School graduate who says the welcoming atmosphere attracted
her to UNT, couldn’t wait to start the academic year.
“I was looking forward to being a freshman all over again,”
Sandra, however, didn’t want to look like a freshman to others.
A year older than many students in her orientation session, she
had spent a year in the Army National Guard after graduating from
a Boston-area high school. She decided to go to college after she
was discharged for medical reasons and chose UNT to be closer to
her family in Fort Worth.
She didn’t want to stick out as a new student.
“I wanted to know where my classes were without having to
look them up in the course schedule. I wanted to get into a routine,”
can be friends
August, Rebecca and Sandra were among about 3,800 freshmen moving
into campus residence halls. Most of the new students went “potluck,”
allowing their roommates to be randomly selected and generating
some stress at the thought of living with strangers. But they weren’t
strangers for long.
Rebecca’s roommate in Kerr Hall became her study partner and
closest friend at UNT — they planned to live there together
again this fall.
“She helped me keep on track, and when she got off track,
I helped her get motivated to study,” Rebecca says. “Our
parents said we spent too much time together. We even called each
other when I was home on weekends. It’s very interesting how
I hoped for the best with a potluck roommate, and I got the best.”
Nick wasn’t so lucky.
The Plano music major’s fall semester was complicated with
the stress of changing rooms only one month into the year because
his first roommate wanted to live with a high school friend.
But Nick’s second roommate was “cool,” he says,
and he liked him at once. He also liked Bruce Hall, enjoying the
Halloween Haunted House and other hall events. During the spring
semester, he became a hall association representative and made plans
to stay in Bruce with his roommate for his sophomore year.
“I’m happy here and would not go anywhere else. I’ve
had a blast,” he says.
stayed busy throughout the year. Her favorite class was Stress
Reduction Through Movement.
not like high school
of the freshmen, studying for college courses proved to be a bigger
challenge than living with roommates.
“You don’t have the same classes every day, so sometimes
you have to think, ‘Tomorrow’s Friday — what classes
do I have then and what do I need to read for them?’”
Sandra says. “Teachers follow class syllabi regardless of
whether you’re behind or not."
a graduate of Oak Ridge High School in Spring who came to UNT with
an almost perfect grade point average, says classes required more
outside work than she expected.
“In high school, I had a lot of homework, but my teachers
addressed every topic in class,” she says. “Here I’m
having to do three times the reading I did there.”
Music majors Nick and Heidi had the added responsibility of balancing
studying with practicing.
Nick, a music performance/oboe major, thought he was up to the challenge,
but he quickly learned his last year in high school didn’t
prepare him for studying “massive amounts of information”
He often skimped on sleep in order to fit everything in.
“I hit the books after dinner,” he says. “I did
all my academic work first and then I’d know how long I needed
to practice. Sometimes it was two hours, sometimes four, sometimes
eight. But it was worth it.”
Heidi, a National Merit Scholarship winner from Jourdanton High
School and a student in the UNT Honors Program, started the year
with a double major in music performance/clarinet and chemistry.
She tried to study three to four hours every day and practice at
least 10 hours a week.
“I’m such a nerd now,” she says. “I’ve
made a permanent home in the practice rooms.”
major Heidi took a break now and then from studying and practicing
fall semester, Heidi realized a double major was too much. She wasn’t
she could maintain her grade point average and keep her scholarship
for four years.
Before registering for spring semester classes, she
switched her chemistry major to a minor and changed her performance
major to focus on music education.
Karina also changed majors, switching from accounting to interdisciplinary
studies so she could become an elementary school teacher. But her
spring schedule was already set, and by the middle of the semester
she wished she had chosen different courses.
“Fall semester, only history was challenging. Spring semester,
everything except Stress Reduction was challenging. I was struggling
a bit,” she says.
The changes in the students’ lives didn’t just involve
When Karina came to North Texas, she had intended to keep her relationship
going with her boyfriend, a student at Montgomery County Community
College near her home. And Rebecca chose UNT in part to stay close
to her boyfriend, a Tarrant County College student.
At orientation, Rebecca was warned by other students that romances
between incoming freshmen and their high school sweethearts are
usually over by Thanksgiving.
She broke up with her boyfriend before starting the semester. A
month later, she was dating again.
“I consider myself very outgoing, and I get energized from
meeting new people,” she says.
Karina, too busy to visit home often, broke off her long-distance
relationship in November.
“I just want to be single right now,” she says. “It’s
so easy to meet new people because everyone is so friendly.”
It was an
unexpected event in the middle of the fall semester that brought
changes for Sandra. She wrecked her car.
Although she wasn’t hurt, she needed transportation to be
able to work off campus. So, she moved back to her parents’
home in Fort Worth to share a car with her father.
She wasn’t upset about leaving Clark Hall.
“I liked living there, but I don’t mind living at home,
either. My parents know I am independent and won’t control
when I should be home,” she says.
She soon discovered living at home posed other problems. “Commuting
really changed my plans for my class schedule. When I lived on campus,
I could get up at 10:30 a.m. for an 11 a.m. class, but now I have
to decide when I want to start driving and when I want to get home,”
In addition, Sandra missed some classes due to the car-sharing arrangement.
“One Friday, my dad took the car before he realized I had
to leave for school, so I had to miss,” she says. “People
who live on campus don’t miss class with the excuse of car
Working off campus and commuting cut into Sandra’s plans to
be involved in campus activities. When school started, she wanted
to join the German Club, but meetings were on Wednesday evenings
when she was usually working.
“It seemed like a burden to ask for certain days off at work,”
After she moved back home, she began working at a Fort Worth restaurant
and thought she could become more involved on campus because she
worked mostly on weekends. But that continued to be difficult.
Even though she still talked to her former roommate at Clark Hall,
who urged her to attend basketball games and other events, Sandra
kept forgetting when they were scheduled.
life outside of class
other students, becoming involved in campus life was easier.
Karina joined student organizations her first week at UNT. During
the fall semester, she attended weekly meetings of Axcess, part
of the national Christian organization College Life.
In the spring, she also attended a women’s group through College
Life, went on College Life retreats and found an outlet for her
love of dance through a dance ministry. Over Spring Break she helped
build a Habitat for Humanity house in Mississippi.
Rebecca played intramural softball for Kerr Hall and became the
only female freshman selected for Student Judicial Board, a group
of residence hall students who hear cases about student behavioral
concerns. She also spent time with friends at the mall, hung out
at clubs and attended football and basketball games.
Music majors Heidi and Nick performed in campus ensembles and attended
campus concerts. Heidi played in the Concert Band and Nick played
in the Symphony Orchestra and the Symphonic Band and was selected
to the Chamber Orchestra, which accompanied UNT’s production
of Don Giovanni.
else they learned
close of the freshman year, Nick knew he had definitely improved
as a musician.
“Not very many freshmen were chosen for the Chamber Orchestra.
The opera and orchestra conductors placed a lot of faith in me,”
His only regret was taking more than 16 academic hours spring semester
and having less time to practice.
“I wanted to see if I could handle it, but it was very stressful,”
Spring was also stressful for Rebecca, who said procrastination
was a problem for her.
“I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day. I thought
I had adjusted to college enough. But I hadn’t,” she
says. “It has definitely been what everyone told me it would
be — a whole new experience.”
The other students agree.
“I have a more diverse group of friends than I had in high
school,” Karina says. “When you’re in a dorm,
you have to live with someone, and people are around all the time.
You have to be open to others’ ideas even if they’re
different from your own.”
She also says she’s grown spiritually and has matured “because
I’ve had to do stuff for myself, like laundry.”
Heidi isn’t sure if she’s more mature.
“I’ve really just found a new support network,”
she says. “But I think college is actually doable now. I can
walk across campus without getting tired. I can remember to turn
things in at a certain time. And hopefully, I’m becoming a
Sandra says she’s realized that college is a choice. Despite
freshman year not going exactly as she planned, she is glad she
enrolled at UNT.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with my classes, and I kind of
don’t want to ever leave,” she says.