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Students explore via UP events

Drew Pendleton

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From a Chris Tucker comedy show in Birmingham to Peterbrooke Chocolatier in Northport, University Programs has given students the option to travel out of the city limits and “enjoy new things, meet new people and learn something new in a different way.”

Brandon Clark, a junior majoring in marketing and event programmer for the University Programs “On the Town” series, has worked for University Programs since May and helped the “On the Town” series branch out even farther than Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. A trip earlier this year took students to downtown Atlanta – with stops at the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center, Centennial Park and the World of Coke – and a bus loaded with students left for Chattanooga, Tennessee, Sunday. Clark said the Chattanooga trip took students 
to the Lookout Mountain area of the city, which lies on the Tennessee-Georgia border and houses Civil War memorials, an incline railway, a view of seven states and a guided tour that includes the largest waterfall inside of a mountain in the continental United States, known as Ruby Falls.

“We start off at Ruby Falls with a guided tour,” Clark said. “Then we do the incline railway, which goes straight up the mountain and gives us a chance to see sights where Civil War battles took place. Finally, we walk through Rock City, which allows us to see different sights and keeps us in the dark so we can be surprised.”

Emily Schmidt, a junior majoring in physics and secondary education, went on the Chattanooga trip and said she was looking forward to the Ruby Falls stop.

“I really love Chattanooga,” she said. “It’s beautiful, and I’ve been there a lot with my family, so any chance I get to go, I go.”

Clark said Chattanooga was the first trip that required student payment. The $16.50 charge, he said, paid for admission to several of the sites in Chattanooga and the charter bus that transported them there and back.

Yogendra Patil, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering, said the opportunity to travel was worth the fee.

“I don’t mind paying for this,” he said. “It makes it more fun, and I can have some free time.”

Clark said events like Chattanooga aim to give the student body a new experience.

“We really want to give students new experiences, things they don’t get to do normally,” Clark said. “Finding new places to go is a way to do that.”

Patil, an international student from India, attended events in Atlanta and Birmingham with University Programs and said the events give international students a chance to explore America.

“For international students, it’s our chance to see new places and try new things,” he said. “I heard Chattanooga had some good landscapes, and I want to see more of the South.”

While University Programs continues to expand its reach and give students new opportunities – including an ongoing contest for Iron Bowl tickets and a screening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” at Tuscaloosa’s multiplex – Clark said events are already in motion for the spring semester.

“Students should look out for our spring events,” Clark said. “We’re trying to get a big event put together for kids who can’t go home or on vacation during spring break.”

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Students explore via UP events