Texas A&M University-Central Texas kicked off a new academic year with a “Welcome Back” picnic for students, staff and their families Friday afternoon.

A rapidly growing crowd braved the heat to attend the event, which featured food, live music, carnival rides, games and a movie.

Attendees sat and relaxed in the shadow of the campus’ second building, which is nearing completion. Just two years ago, the same event was held in a small grass field near Central Texas College.

Assistant professor Michelle Dietert reflected on the university’s growth since she came to work there in 2011.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Dietert said. “It’s really come a long way.”

The picnic is a chance for students to

learn more about the variety of student organizations at A&M-Central Texas.

Several groups set up tables where they could talk and pass out information to interested students.

Tisa Colon, a senior and president of the A&M-Central Texas chapter of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said the group became a valuable resource for her during her academic studies.

“It helped to know that there were other people interested in the same career, and upperclassmen who could give you advice and guidance,” Colon said. “It was awesome.”

Joining a campus organization can do more than just benefit students academically said Dietert, who is one of the faculty advisers for the university’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

“When students join a club, it’s a way for them to get involved in the community,” she said.

“It’s not just about academics; it’s about being engaged in your community.”

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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