Posted Friday, May 7, 2021 @ 2:04 PM
As UnionWest approaches its 2nd anniversary, we are celebrating the one-of-a-kind experience that UCF and Valencia College have worked together to build in the Creative Village Downtown Campus. At UnionWest, our residents have the unique opportunity to stay their entire educational career and grow along with us. So, we wanted to speak to and feature some of the residents who have been with us since the beginning!
Our first UnionWest resident feature is Alexander Williams. Williams is a 23-year-old rising senior studying Digital Media in the Game Design course. A transfer student from Eastern Florida State College, he came to UnionWest by way of the UCF Direct Connect program, moving into UnionWest for its Fall 2019 opening.
Like many, the initial appeal of UnionWest for Alexander was the proximity to most of his classes. “So, why not stay in the building that is closest to my classes? Most of my classes were a five-minute walk from where I was staying.” The closeness is one of his favorite things about the downtown campus, being close to the stores, restaurants, and classes.
One of the unexpected benefits for Alexander is the Lymno/Lynx bus systems in the downtown area. “I was not expecting to use them as much as I did. If you want to get around downtown, without having the hassle of finding a good place park or pay for parking, use the buses.” The bus lines are one of the ways Alexander tries to take advantage of the location of UnionWest. Being in the city helped him work on his ability to talk to strangers. “One of the main reasons I sat out in the common area was to do exactly that. Would I say I succeeded in that? Not really because of, you know, COVID.”
However, his best advice to give someone wanting to make the most of their downtown experience is simple: “to experience downtown. What I mean is go into the city and explore.” Exploring new places is a great way to spark creativity and innovation, something Alexander utilizes in his free time when he is drawing or creating his own video games.
When recounting his memories and experiences at UnionWest, Alexander mentions what it was like during his first few months at UnionWest. There were some initial growing pains that came with the new construction and campus opening. But going into his second year downtown, things got better. Alexander spent time in the common area, talking to people and exploring downtown. Then COVID hit and a lot changed. But he made do with what was available, joining groups like Gaming Knights and Game Dev Knights.
One of his favorite memories at UnionWest has been gaming at the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments. “[They] were held on the second floor every two weeks or so. Not a lot of people showed up to these tournaments. We were lucky if we got more than 10 people to show. But even with the small numbers, it was a blast to meet and play with new people.”
Throughout his time as a UnionWest resident, there has been a theme of building community, even in the heart of a bustling downtown. Whether trying to meet new people, joining groups like Gaming Knights, or even just exploring the city, Alexander has been able to enjoy new opportunities and experiences as an original resident at the Downtown Campus.