Although another year is wrapping up out at Texas A&M University in Texarkana, it doesn’t mean that students and faculty have stopped making plans for summer.

Tomorrow, approximately 100 students will graduate during the commencement held at the First Baptist Church on Moores Lane beginning at 10 a.m.

Among the graduates is Mass Communications student Justin Hubbart, originally from Amarillo. He transferred to Texarkana A&M after suffering a football injury while playing for West Texas A&M. “I’m going to graduate school for my M.B.A.,” Hubbart said. But he’s also planning to enjoy some of his favorite activities over the summer before classes resume on August 27, including skydiving and bass fishing.

Hubbart said that one of his favorite professors, Dr. Amy Carwile, a mass communications and speech teacher, as well as adviser for the entire communications department, had other plans. She takes the summer off and does research, he said.

“We do a lot of planning and organizing for events like those that take place during welcome week,” said Celeste McNiel, the coordinator of student engagement and activities. A graduate of Henderson State University, she came to Texarkana A&M three years ago and has watched her own department grow exponentially.

“We started with only 25 student organizations at the beginning of the year,” McNiel said. “This year alone we grew by 19 and now have 46!” Student organizations are comprised of academic clubs, club sports and Greek organizations.

But there are also those that cater to interests outside the norm including an anime club and Humans v. Zombies, a club where students play a year-long game pitting the student body against a  zombie that wants to eat their brains. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Hubbart, a member of the group. “We shoot a lot of Nerf guns at one another.”

“So that group grows bigger all the time,” McNiel said. She also helped found the Campus Activities Board since her arrival, for which she serves as the adviser and Hubbart is a member.

As the student population has grown to over 2,000, a residence hall opened and another is being built, planning weekly student activities is an important part of student life. “The students say they’re bored when we don’t have an event planned,” McNiel said.

So now for Welcome Week alone, McNiel and the CAB are planning everything from a luau and karaoke to bringing in comedian Eric Schwartz and hypnotist C.J. Johnson.

The university is also doing lots of planning this year. One big thing is that they are awarding $1 million in scholarships as part of the Arnold Scholarship Award Program, established by philanthropists Anita and Truman Arnold. To find out more about this endeavor, visit the TAMUT website to get the scholarship criteria.

Better yet, perhaps now would be a great time to plan for the future and visit the Texas A&M University-Texarkana campus and see what great things can be accomplished with a degree from this thriving school located in our own backyard.