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 2020 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.
Like many of today’s students, Kaylee got a jump-start on her college journey by taking dual enrollment classes throughout high school. She planned to attend a four-year university right after graduation, but a fluke in her class schedule led to the worst-case scenario. Despite intense studying and tutoring, she failed a required math course by a micro point and lost her college admission and scholarship. Although Kaylee felt crushed, she pushed forward and stayed at the College of the Sequoias, determined to be successful. After a few semesters, she transferred to CSU-Channel Islands, but was caught off-guard by feelings of isolation and culture shock. Everything changed when she was awarded an opportunity to research whales and ecotourism during winter break. Even though the study didn’t match her career ambitions, the trip fueled her drive to make the most of her college experience. Now Kaylee is a club president, a peer mentor, and is pursuing two independent research studies focused on transfer. She says, “Being a transfer student is more than just a label to me—it’s a part of my identity. I’m determined to prove that transfer students can be just as accomplished and successful as any traditional university student.”
You can read more about Kaylee's transfer journey in her pre-conference blog post.
Jahine readily admits that taking classes at Richard Bland Community College felt like his only option after being denied admission to several colleges and universities. Despite knowing that his weak academic credentials reflected legitimate learning disabilities and not his true potential, he struggled to hold on to his dream of earning a bachelor’s degree. When an academic advisor encouraged him apply to Morehouse, Jahine doubted his chances of being admitted. But flexible admissions processes allowed his abilities to shine, and Jahine enrolled after one year of community college coursework. Although the adjustment was hard—due, in part, to Morehouse’s unabashed focus on freshmen transitions—he felt a strong affinity for the traditions and brotherhood that were specifically tailored to Black men. Finding the right fit—personally, socially, and academically—has helped Jahine thrive. In addition to his community service work with children who remind him of himself, Jahine holds several high-level campus leadership positions and plans to start a Transfer Student Association soon. He says, “Through it all, I have never forgotten my transfer roots. I dedicate my time to mentoring other transfer students and hope to be the catalyst for change that Morehouse needs to improve the experience for my brothers.”
You can read more about Jahine's transfer journey in his pre-conference blog post.
Tania’s transfer journey began when, through no fault of her own, the financial aid package at her dream school fell through. Although she was able to enroll in her second choice college with a substantial scholarship, she withdrew within two weeks after overt acts of racism left her feeling unsafe. Tania returned home in time to start classes at Moorpark College, but for a while, she felt disappointed by the commuter campus culture. Then, harnessing the same drive and determination that helped her become high school valedictorian, she took charge of her situation and engaged in a number of high-value experiences, including participating in the Honors Program, serving as a leader for the Mock Trials team and Spectrum Club, and conducting research through the CC2PhD Scholars Program. Now a student at UCLA, Tania uses her story to connect with students as a Student Success Agency mentor. She says, “Sometimes I still doubt whether I deserve to be here, but then I remember that, if everyone feels this way, the problem isn’t entirely us. And that’s why I’m here: to share my story, pay it forward, and help other transfer students succeed.” You can read more about Tania's transfer journey in her pre-conference blog post.
Although she desperately wanted to start college at a four-year university, Macia decided to take classes at Hinds Community College to avoid accumulating too much debt as she fulfills her dream of becoming a medical doctor. Despite rumors that community college would feel like “the 13th grade,” she was pleasantly surprised by the rigor of her classes and the many opportunities for co-curricular involvement. In addition to being an avid community volunteer, Macia completed honors contracts in chemistry and Spanish and worked as a peer tutor for beginner and intermediate algebra—all key courses for her intended career. Ever mindful of her long-term goals, Macia used every occasion to network and learn, and her strong academic performance earned her an invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa. Macia transferred to Mississippi College after one year at Hinds, but she plans to earn her associate degree through the reverse transfer process. She says, “I want to promote the idea that community colleges can help students explore their future careers. I learned to apply myself at Hinds. I had a vision, and I did what I could do to confirm my decision to practice medicine.”
You can read more about Macia's transfer journey in her pre-conference blog post.