In this post, National Transfer Student Ambassador Dipti Karnani reflects on her experience attending the NISTS 2021 virtual annual conference in February. You can read more about Dipti's transfer story on the NISTS Blog.
1. How did your thinking about transfer change following the conference?
Before my involvement with NISTS, I had a brief understanding of the role of transfer agents – those leaders who the initiative to guide transfer students throughout their undergraduate journey to provide the resources they need to graduate. Through the conference, I’ve learned the role of a transfer agent goes beyond that. When attending the Action Focus Plenary Workshop, I realized transfer agents are not only meant to build relationships with transfer students to provide support and resources. They also strive to cultivate an entire culture that’s meant to validate the transfer student experience while setting them up for success. During those three days, I was so grateful to listen to various transfer professionals, such as Heather Adams and TaMisha Greathouse, who exemplify that behavior and demonstrate transfer advocacy.
2. The overarching theme of the conference was, “Not So Secret Transfer Agents.” What would you say to professionals to encourage them to lean into that role?
To professionals who aren’t familiar with the “transfer agent” concept, I would encourage them to adopt an open mindset on the transfer student experience. Because many transfer students are believed to understand a college environment from the get-go, it’s common for transfer professionals to assume that they don’t need much time adjusting to a new campus and college lifestyle. However, that’s not the case. No one has the same story or experience; some may be going back to school after taking a break, and they might need more support in adjusting to a new campus culture. I didn’t realize how important it was to receive that support from my current institution to grant me the experiences I have today that have set me up for success.
3. What are your plans for your program grant?
When I first transferred, I remember being overwhelmed with the number of resources provided to me at orientation and during the first week of school. Normally, students are simply informed about their campus’s various resources for support and academic success. When working as an Orientation Leader myself, I wanted to ensure the student felt supported and prepared with the tools they needed for their fresh start at their new school. During next semester’s National Transfer Student Week, I plan on creating a more personal experience for transfer students by hosting a panel with transfer student leaders. With the help of various transfer student organizations, faculty, and campus leaders, I hope we can not only provide resources needed for student success but also focus on addressing various topics regarding the transition to a new school, mental health and overcoming barriers, and how to improve the overall transfer student experience.
4. What did you learn from the other Transfer Student Ambassadors?
Interacting with my fellow Transfer Student Ambassadors throughout this entire journey has been such a rewarding experience. From the start, I recognized we all came from diverse backgrounds and faced many different circumstances to get to where we are today. Yet, I was taken by surprise in those many moments where we related to one another’s experiences and struggles during our transfer journey. That’s when it sunk in, realizing that transfer students across the nation probably encounter many of the same struggles at their institutions, and we all have the power to talk about them and take action to improve the experience.
Do you know an outstanding transfer student?
Then please let us know! The Transfer Student Ambassador program invites up to four outstanding transfer students to add their voices to the national transfer conversation. In addition to registration and attendance for the NISTS annual conference, ambassadors receive a $500 scholarship plus a $500 transfer program grant to be used in collaboration with a faculty or staff member at the student's previous or current institution. More information about the award and application process is available on the TSA webpage.