On a sunny March afternoon nearly eight years ago, I strolled across The University of Texas at Austin, acquainting myself with campus, from the turtle pond to towering buildings. From one activity to the next, I felt excited to explore the university and its resources in the fun, interactive environment that is Explore UT. I did not expect that years later, I would have the honor to help contribute to this event and welcome future Longhorns.
Explore UT is an annual gathering and open house. It invites students and visitors of all ages to gain an inside look at the university through activities and tours. By extending an invitation to people throughout the state, the event helps build community. This year, Explore UT takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 2.
Growing up, I didn’t think much about whether or not I would attend UT or if the campus was the right fit for me. As the eldest daughter of two Pakistani immigrants, I didn’t have alumni connections or a guide to follow. I forged my own path, following my interests and passions. I distinctly remember though how wondrous it felt to be on campus at Explore UT. Explore UT made it seem possible for me to go to school here and pursue what gives me a sense of purpose.
For young visitors, an invitation to visit the university is an important step of encouragement. It’s an opportunity to go inside buildings, meet students and professors, and familiarize yourself with campus life. As a prestigious research institution, UT can sometimes feel challenging. From the outside looking in, it may be difficult for minority students to envision themselves on campus. This makes Explore UT a formative experience, since it reassures students that if they have an interest then they can pursue it here.
As an undergraduate intern at the Ransom Center, I found a place where I can learn, appreciate, and support the humanities in ways that I could not have imagined as an eighth-grader. I want all students to be comfortable on campus, not insecure about whether or not they resemble others or share similar backgrounds. I hope that visitors at Explore UT see how the Ransom Center serves the community. Through exhibitions like the current Stories to Tell and The Rise of Everyday Design: The Arts & Crafts Movement in Britain and America, there is much to view and understand together.
The Ransom Center looks forward to welcoming visitors at Explore UT on March 2. Visitors will enjoy interactive activities like using a printing press and learning about the collections. Although I didn’t visit the Ransom Center when I explored UT, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to welcome students as part of my undergraduate experience.
Explore UT activities at the Ransom Center
Hourly tours hourly 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
See the first book printed using movable type in the West. The Gutenberg Bible opened doors for reading and shaped human history. Learn about its revolutionary impact during a 15-minute docent talk.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Make your own print on a vintage printing press and take home a piece of history. The Center’s extensive archive of art, books, manuscripts, and more inspire the available designs.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Stop by to learn how to handle delicate items such as photographs and rare books as if you were working in a special collections library or museum.
Top: Zoya Zia (left) at her first Explore UT. Courtesy Zoya Zia.
Zoya Zia is an Education and Public Engagement Intern at the Harry Ransom Center. She is a senior at The University of Texas at Austin. As an International Relations & Global Studies major, she enjoys drawing connections past and present, seeking to recognize how history has shaped the world today. She has a minor in Latin American Studies and is part of the Arabic Flagship Program at UT, demonstrating her commitment to learning about regions across the world—one way to do so is to study artwork. She is currently writing her senior capstone project about how museums offer a contested space for both nation-building and self-expression through art of all forms.