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TTU parents, students find strength in numbers

By Michael Sudhalter

Missouri City resident and incoming Texas Tech freshman Mariah Mills, left, accepts a Tech T-shirt from Erik Gonzalez, Tech admission counselor and recruiter for Fort Bend County.  (Photos by Michael Sudhalter)

Missouri City resident and incoming Texas Tech freshman Mariah Mills, left, accepts a Tech T-shirt from Erik Gonzalez, Tech admission counselor and recruiter for Fort Bend County. (Photos by Michael Sudhalter)

When Sugar Land residents Brenda and Dave Bristow found out that their son, Eric, was going to be a Texas Tech University student, they seemed to have 522 questions – one for every mile between Sugar Land and Lubbock.

They joined the Texas Tech Parents Association, Southwest Houston Chapter to help answer some of those queries and to network with other Tech parents in the area.

They found that there were unique challenges from the ones they faced in sending their other children to Texas A&M and Texas State, respectively.

The distance, and its related challenges, were the most obvious.

Two years later, the Bristows are helping to educate the parents of incoming Tech freshmen. On Sunday, they attended the Parents Association’s Red Raider Sendoff at the T.E. Harman Center in Sugar Land.

While new parents asked dozens of questions to members of the Parents Association, incoming Tech freshmen got a chance to introduce themselves while Tech recruiters educated them about the school and gave them free Red Raider T-Shirts.

“I’m getting to know people and seeing potential study buddies,” said Joey Wright, a Missouri City resident and an Elkins High graduate.

Wright, who plans on studying Petroleum Engineering, conceded that he may get homesick being eight hours away from home, but noted that he “can start a new Red Raider family.”

Missouri City resident Mariah Mills said the networking opportunity was a good one.

“Tech is a drive, but it’s worth it,” Mills said. “My cousin went to Tech and became really successful in Foreign Affairs for the government.”

The Parents Association has approximately 250 members and covers Fort Bend County as well as parts of Brazoria, Harris and Galveston counties.

Their next event will be a dinner at Spring Creek Barbecue  (Hwy. 6 in Missouri City) on Sept. 23.

In addition to networking, the Parents Association hosts four meetings per year, sponsors several social events and presents Book Scholarships to local students.

They’re also involved with a wider Tech group called “Road Raiders”, in which Tech parents who live between Sugar Land and Lubbock volunteer to help students if their car breaks down or they get in an accident.

On Sunday, the questions ranged from traveling home to the Houston area (the school charters a bus on Thanksgiving and Spring Break, and students associated with the group can also car-pool) to whether it’s possible to ship the confines of a dorm room, rather than driving it up.

Some students will be experiencing snow and extremely cold weather for the first time, and they’ll also be trading in the possibility of tropical hurricanes for dust/sand storms of the plains.

Parents Association leaders encouraged the new parents to buy items near home, because Wal-Mart and other large retailers will be facing the rush of 30,000-plus college students moving to campus at the same time.

Allison Dragon, manager of Tech’s Houston area recruiting, said Tech has strong programs in Business, Engineering and Geoscience and it offers the state’s only bachelor’s degree in Viticulture (Wine making). The school is also within 2-to-4 hours of skiing and whitewater rafting opportunities, Dragon said.

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