The Shorthorn sat down with Mr. UTA Liam Rhodes, social work junior, and Ms. UTA Safa Sheikh, public health senior, to discuss their positions, the fall semester and the university.
The Shorthorn: What do you wish you knew when you first started at UTA?
Rhodes: “I kind of wish I knew how much freedom I was going to have. I was like, ‘Oh, there’s nobody here to tell me what I can and can’t do.’ And that was a little scary. It definitely was easy to lose track of what I was supposed to be doing or not doing.
Sheikh: I wish I knew how easy it was to get involved and to join organizations. I even found out that if you have a few friends who are interested, you can even start your own organization if there’s one that’s not already at UTA. So it’s pretty easy to get involved, and I wish I knew that before.”
TS: What advice would you give to new and returning students?
Rhodes: “Don’t be afraid to get involved because getting involved might actually help you stay on top of what you’re supposed to be doing. Embrace connections because I think after a year and a half of talking to most people through a computer screen, we really kind of learned how important those relationships are.”
TS: Why did you decide to get involved on campus? And why did you decide to run for this position?
Rhodes: “I wanted to help students become more involved, learn about the resources on campus, learn how to embrace those resources and those differences and just make UTA a place where everyone feels like it’s home, where they feel like they belong, like they’re not an outcast.
Sheikh: When I initially came to UTA, I was almost considering transferring out before I got involved because I was like, ‘Oh, you know, maybe this isn’t the place for me.’ But I realized if I had that experience to where I was almost going to leave this school until I got involved, then maybe I can help more people who may also be in the same position.”
TS: How do you balance school work and extra activities?
Rhodes: “It’s a little bit of a juggling act, but once you kind of get into the habit of ‘doing this and then this when you’re not doing that’ or ‘work on this as you’re doing that,’ it kind of becomes easier, and you kind of get the hang of it. So it’s a little bit of a juggling act but obviously with practice.”
TS: Why did you decide to attend UTA?
Rhodes: “The distance between home and my second home, UTA, was a big push for me, but also just that sense of community. That feeling of like, ‘Oh yeah, I can picture myself here for four years, or I can picture myself here for five years if I do a master’s.’ So I think it’s really important when you’re looking at a school to make sure that you can see yourself there, and the great thing about UTA is pretty much everyone that comes here is able to picture themselves having a home here.
Sheikh: When I took a campus tour during my high school senior year, I remember the tour guides we had back then, they were really sweet. They showed us all the buildings, they told us all the information about UTA, and I just felt like I connected to the campus. And just walking around, I saw how diverse it was. For me, I like learning about other cultures, so just in seeing different perspectives, just being in that environment was something that I knew would help me thrive.”