It's National Transfer Student Week, and as part of the celebration, we're excited to announce this year's National Transfer Student Ambassadors.
These individuals were selected through a national competition intended to recognize outstanding students who represent the heart of our work. Nominees were asked to submit a letter of recommendation, resume, and a written and video response describing their transfer journey, advocacy efforts on behalf of transfers, and how their personal interests match this opportunity.
All four winners demonstrated excellence in leadership, public speaking, and their potential for sharing meaningful information with higher education transfer professionals. The ambassadors will be joining us at the NISTS 2019 annual conference and will play an integral role throughout the year as we seek to educate and empower transfer professionals so that transfer students thrive.
Without further ado, allow us to introduce you to Bianca, Jennifer, Jay, and Taylor:
Bianca’s college dream came true when she enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University. Unfortunately, the fit never felt right, and her transition struggles were exacerbated by a series of unexpected hospitalizations during her first year. Bianca returned to Texas and took time to heal while earning her associate degree at Brookhaven Community College. When she transferred to Baylor University, everything finally fell into place, and she felt more connected to her academics and herself than ever before.
As an ambassador and student intern for Baylor's Transfer Student Success Office, Bianca uses her personal experience to shed light on the transfer process and advocate on behalf of transfer students. "Every transfer student may struggle to adjust to their new school," Bianca explains, "but with the support they need, every transfer student can also experience great success and personal growth."
University of Illinois at Chicago
Jennifer plans to leverage her experience as a first-generation, Latina student to influence higher education policies, particularly those that govern the transition between community colleges and universities. In describing her transfer journey, Jennifer explained she felt totally lost, confused, and disconnected until someone at Harper College took the time to help her chart key milestones in the transfer process. Jennifer is thriving at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and her determination and passion for transforming transfer shines through her undergraduate research and personal blog, CollegeCoward.com.
Jennifer says, "Thousands of students face these barriers every single year, [so] I love the idea that policy influencers invite students into their professional circle. After all, it is the work of professionals that can make or break a student’s education.”
Jevaughney "Jay" Francis
Appalachian State University
After moving to the United States from the small island of Jamaica, Jay was taken aback by the American collegiate system. He had a very specific major in mind but was disappointed to learn he did not have the prerequisite skills required for the program. Jay was forced to reevaluate his college options late in the enrollment cycle and ultimately began his journey at Wake Technical Community College. While there, he experienced significant academic and personal growth and eventually learned that the key to success is asking for and accepting help. Jay is now a Transfer Student Mentor at Appalachian State University, where he is known for his charisma and passion for helping others.
He encourages new students to get out of their comfort zones and create meaningful connections to others. "Yes, transfer students are in a new, unfamiliar environment," Jay says, "but that doesn’t mean they can’t put their [best] foot forward."
Although Taylor’s college journey began at American University, it wasn’t until she transferred to Spelman College that she found the welcoming and accepting sense of community she craved. The stark contrast between campus climates she experienced, along with limited transfer-focused acclimation activities, propelled her into action, and she now holds several leadership roles that allow her to amplify transfer student concerns with campus administrators. With an emphasis on smooth transitions and inclusion, Taylor uses her story as a platform to expand others’ views and tackle tough issues like credit articulation and affordable housing.
She even hosts events such as “Tea with the Transfers” to promote engagement and connection. As Taylor explains, "Regardless of their reasoning, deciding to transfer is a life-altering shift that needs to be met with support and understanding from administrations and student bodies alike."