Freshmen enjoy picnic with O’Briens

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President O'Brien talks with new students. Photo by Frankie Sanchez.Freshmen walked the path to President O’Briens home August 31 for a free dinner and reception by faculty to welcome them to the University.

Four years ago, President J. Patrick O’Brien approached Wes Condray, the Student Orientation Coordinator, to discuss creating a freshman picnic. During his time as a undergraduate student, O’Brien experienced a similar welcome and the experience stuck with him.

“Events like the freshmen picnic give new students a connection to the University,” Condray said.

President and Mrs. Karen O’Brien joined a group of faculty as they welcomed the arriving freshmen with applause and cheers.

“It’s cool knowing that the faculty would get together to meet the freshman,” said freshman Jeffrey Norred.

Not only did the freshmen picnic offer students a chance to meet the O’Briens, the President Ambassadors attended the picnic and gave students tours of the President’s home.

“I was expecting [the house] to be bigger,” freshman Gannon Williams said. “It was nice and there was big yard for all of us to sit in together. I wouldn’t have everybody in my backyard like this.

The yard wasn’t the only thing big at the picnic. The Herdsmen brought Thunder X out to meet the newest batch of WTAMU freshman. Senior Russell Brixley, a member of the Herdsmen, said Thunder X attended all the New Student Orientation’s and enjoys welcoming the new students.

“He thinks it’s the best thing,” Brixley said. “He loves getting out and seeing people.”

Thunder X was joined at the picnic by some of WT’s fraternities, sororities and a few other groups.

“It’s cool knowing they came out to support the freshmen and try to get them involved,” Norred said.

This event did not come together overnight. Condray said he spent about a month planning the freshmen cookout and was prepared for 500 people. Although they didn’t reach the 500 mark, Condray said he was pleased with the turnout.

“It was an overwhelming success,” Condray said. “About 400 people attended.”

A part of Condray’s preparations involved setting out T-shirts for the freshmen to take home with them after the picnic. Williams particularly appreciated this gesture because he did not have a University shirt yet.

“I think [the shirts] were a good idea,” Williams said. “It helps to show other schools how much people here love this school.”

Individuals at the picnic had the opportunity to enjoy the burgers, various desserts and buffalo cookies. Freshman Sarah Edmiston wants to know the secret behind the buffalo cookies.

“The food was the best part,” Edmiston said. “[The buffalo cookies were] very cute. I’m interested in how they made them.”

KWTS, the One, provided the music for the event and introduced a few key individuals. Both Williams and Norred said they enjoyed the food and the overall atmosphere of the picnic.

“I like it,” Norred said. “I think it’s a good idea to get all the freshmen oriented and invited into West Texas.”