In the weeks leading up to the NISTS 2021 virtual annual conference, we're highlighting the transfer stories of this year's National Transfer Student Ambassadors. All four students will attend the conference and participate in a student panel conversation during concurrent session five on Thursday, February 25th. You can read more about Dipti's story and meet the other 2021 ambassadors on the NISTS Blog.
What’s your major? Why did you choose it, and what do you hope to do after graduation?
Hello, my name is Dipti Karnani, and I’m a senior at the University of South Florida. I chose to major in Biomedical Sciences and pursue a minor in Public Health because I hope to work within the healthcare field and address global health disparities that prevent many people in specific countries from receiving the care they deserve. After graduation, I will be taking a gap year in gaining different experiences abroad within a clinical setting.
What were your concerns about changing schools? What was most challenging about transferring/ acclimating to a new campus?
My biggest concern about changing schools was the fear of whether this was the right decision I made in trusting a new school. I had already transferred once before, and I wanted nothing more than to feel that my new school was the right fit for me in seeking the opportunities I wanted to grow within my major and that I made the right choice for my professional goals. As an international student, one of my priorities when transferring to the University of South Florida was ensuring that I’d be integrated in a diverse campus culture. The most difficult part of transferring was shifting my mindset to being open to new experiences my school had to offer for both personal and professional growth. However, that fear would have limited my potential and kept me back groom the overflowing bucket of experiences, connections, and lessons USF had to offer, which have all transformed me into a better student and a stronger individual.
What did you do to find support community on campus?
I found the most support at the University of South Florida through involvement and leadership. I decided to apply for the position of an Orientation Leader for Transfer students later within my first year at USF because I was inspired by my own transfer orientation experience and how it heavily focused on providing transfer students with all the necessary resources for a smooth transition to USF. In terms of campus engagement, I joined a few student organizations where I gained experience in service, leadership, and mentoring, and I learned how to build professional relationships and connections outside of the classroom. I currently represent the College of Arts and Sciences through the Dean’s Student Leadership Society, where I worked with incoming students through our mentoring program on learning to navigate campus culture, maintaining mental health, and getting the most out of the college experience, professionally and personally.
What has been your best/worst transfer experience so far?
My most rewarding transfer experience has definitely been working with the Office of Orientation at the University of South Florida as an Orientation Leader for both transfer and international students. It’s common for most transfer students to share a common mindset; they’re focused solely on academics and often feel as if there aren’t involvement opportunities in college catered to their demographic. I was one of those students. However, I think campus involvement played a significant role in my transfer journey as it transformed me into a stronger student. I grew immensely from the journey of being an Orientation Leader; not only have I gained a support system through my supervisors and peers, but I also received the opportunity to expand my network in different avenues, which all helped me to grow and shape my vision and goals for after college.
What one piece of advice would you give students who are considering a transfer between schools? What about the faculty and staff who work with transfer students?
When I joined USF and became an Orientation Leader, I was told to know my “why”. I would advise students to take the time out to self-reflect on themselves and their aspirations. What is it your game plan, and how can your institution help you to achieve those goals? There are many aspects of a university that can heavily influence your experience and performance. Take the time out to research potential universities and the resources they have to offer within your program of interest to help you grow; look into the campus culture. As for the faculty and staff, I’d ask to look at transfer students for the individuals we are, rather than just the demographic we represent and the common stereotypes it brings. Transfer students still need assistance in adjusting to a new university and its culture, and they have the potential to be equally as successful as any traditional student.