Islanders Launch New Fall Tradition, Beach Bash, During Waves of Welcome

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Islanders turned out en masse to help launch a new tradition at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Beach Bash, which was part of the annual Waves of Welcome (WOW) initiative at the start of the fall semester. Beach Bash featured activities, contests, a photo booth, prize baskets, a dazzling fireworks display, and food, was held Aug. 27 on the lawn of the Performing Arts Center.

Beach Bash was one of 83 WOW total engagement opportunities, including 56 different events, that was held Aug. 18 – Sept. 3 at the Island University. Student Activities Assistant Director, Jennifer Randolph, said the initiative began in 2000; currently WOW starts during move-in days and goes through the first two weeks of classes each fall.

“The purpose of Waves of Welcome is to help students become familiar with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and its traditions while transitioning and returning to campus,” Randolph said. “WOW provides an opportunity for students to meet their fellow Islanders, network with faculty and staff, and connect with student leaders. Students learn more about the many resources available to help them succeed academically and get the most out of their college experience.”

During Waves of Welcome, students attend university events sponsored by student organizations, campus departments, and academic colleges. Students learn Islander traditions, make friendships and connections, explore campus and community resources, and show their Island Spirit. Some of the traditional events and engagement include Welcome Tables, Islander Org Fest, Corpus Christi Community Fair and the Bondfire, to name a few.

WOW 2021 launched with the Islander Family Picnic on Aug. 18, which was held on the East Lawn, and Islander-Palooza, which took place in the Dining Hall and Dugan Pool, that evening. In addition, the Campus Activities Board hosted a campus paint party, Paint U, in Curlew Plaza on Aug 21. Other events included the Corpus Christi Community Fair, which gave new and returning students an opportunity to learn more about the local business and services that are available in Corpus Christi, on Aug. 25.

The highlight of WOW was the wildly successful new tradition – Beach Bash, sponsored by the Office of the President. As dusk fell upon the bayfront, the glow of lights and sounds of frolic and good cheer became a new symbol of the start of the fall semester at the Island University. Islanders enjoyed the opportunity to play traditional lawn games like corn hole, visit the bonfire on University Beach, dance to the soundtrack of the evening, and cheer in support as the names of prizewinners were called.

At 9 p.m., Dr. Kelly M. Miller, President and CEO of the Island University, led a countdown for the start of a festive fireworks show that was sponsored by the Islander Alumni Association and recorded for posterity by dozens upon dozens of Islanders pointing their smartphones skyward.   

Beach Bash attendee John Pena-Baker ’23 said he found being able to talk with people after such a difficult year a nice change of pace, especially with how much easier it is to get to know his peers.

“It means a lot with the Islander spirit,” he said. “I can’t say enough about how it’s been a different year, and it’s such an opening to my college experience to have these connections with fellow Islanders.”

John Stevenson ’25 said the event was an inspiring way to kick off the school year together.

“If this doesn’t get people bonding, I don’t know what will,” he said. “Though it may be my first year, I’ve never been so excited to be anywhere, really. Genuinely, I’m super excited for this year.”