UTEP to Welcome New Miners at Convocation

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP News Service

New students at The University of Texas at El Paso and their families will be officially welcomed to the UTEP family at the inaugural New Miner Convocation – a celebration that will introduce new Miners to the University’s traditions of service, access and excellence.

On Sunday, Aug. 25, more than 400 first-time freshmen, new transfer students, and entering graduate students, plus their family members, are expected to file into the Don Haskins Center at 2 p.m. for the celebration. The event marks the beginning of their UTEP experience by initiating a connection among the new Miners, their families and the University.

“New Miner Convocation is the official welcome for all new students to the academic component of the University,” said Donna Ekal, Ph.D., associate provost for undergraduate studies at UTEP. “It’s also a ceremony to welcome the family to the UTEP community. The decision to attend college is one that usually involves the entire family and we want them to know that UTEP recognizes the important role they play in their students’ success.”

Modeled after the University’s Commencement ceremonies, the new Miners will assemble at Memorial Gym before the start of the ceremony and walk across to the Don Haskins Center. Faculty members will be in full regalia and students will march up the center aisle to their seats. The moment is meant to give them a sense of what to expect when they graduate from UTEP in a few years.

Once settled, UTEP President Diana Natalicio will welcome them to UTEP.  

“This inaugural New Miner Convocation will be a very special way for students and their families to begin a very special time at UTEP – the Centennial Celebration,” President Natalicio said. “This is an amazing time to become a Miner.” 

UTEP will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2014. The University will kick off its countdown to the celebration on Sept. 23, 100 days before the start of the centennial year.

During the ceremony, the President will highlight an incoming freshman, a transfer student and a graduate student.

Other speakers include Keith A. Erekson, Ph.D., assistant professor of history and director of UTEP’s Centennial Celebration. He will discuss how new students can contribute to UTEP’s rich history of service, opportunity and excellence.

“I hope that students who attend New Miner Convocation immediately feel a part of a century of Miner traditions,” Erekson said. “Thousands of students have gone before them and they, after graduation and throughout their careers, will touch thousands of other lives. The convocation gives us a chance to pause and think about our place in history – about the things that bring us all to UTEP and about what we will do in the future because we are now Miners together.”

One of those Miners is Gabriela Olivas, a freshman who plans to study kinesiology. Olivas graduated from high school in Ciudad Juárez. Her first visit to UTEP was during new student orientation on Aug. 19. 

She plans to attend New Miner Convocation with friends to learn more about the University and ease some of her first-day jitters.

“It’s huge here,” Olivas said referring to the UTEP campus. “My old school was so small that I don’t know what to expect here. I might get involved but right now I’m waiting to find out more about the University.”

Olivas will find out what it is like to be a Miner from a couple of alumni who are now faculty members.

Richard D. Pineda, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Communication, and Guillermina “Gina” Núñez-Mchiri, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology, will share how they have come full circle from being students to teaching in the classroom.

UTEP Student Government Association President Paulina Lopez will lead the new Miners in reciting the new UTEP Student Creed. Written by students, faculty and staff this summer, students will promise to uphold the UTEP ideals of engagement, respect and excellence.  

They also will be given a new orange UTEP Pick lapel pin, which they will pin on during the ceremony. New students will receive the pin for free but it also can be purchased for $10. Proceeds will go toward establishing scholarships for new students.  

Family members will receive a free Family Guide that was developed by the University. Available in English and Spanish, the guide offers study tips and a glossary of college terms to help parents offer their students support to succeed at UTEP.  

Members of the UTEP Parents Association also will be available to answer questions from family members who are about to help their new Miners embark on a new chapter in their lives on Monday, Aug. 26 – the first day of the fall 2013 semester.

“For students to hear Dr. Natalicio welcome our new Miners to the University the day before classes begin is so very special,” Ekal said. “I can’t think of a better way to start the semester!”

Students can RSVP at nmc.utep.edu.  The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Donna Ekal at 915-747-6500 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .