National Transfer Student Week is celebrated the third week in October and provides the opportunity to highlight transfer students and the professionals who support them on their journeys. We’ve asked Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) transfer students and their advisor to share their experiences. Not only did they have the transition from their community colleges to the expansive Rutgers environment to contend with, but by working with the EOF advisors, they were able to incorporate their career goals into their Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) experience. Read how EOF counselor Edrice Robinson-Wyatt guides her students to optimize their transition to Rutgers here.
Below, three EOF transfer students share their experiences at SEBS, highlighting their transfer journey and the support they’ve received.
Shyanna Thomason is a SEBS senior from Gloucester Community College and is in the Animal Science preveterinary program. She is a former 4-H’er, is involved in two animal science clubs and was a SEBS EOF mentor.
“Transferring to Rutgers was an incredibly stressful and new process, from figuring out how to register for classes, to housing to even move–in day. However, knowing that I was pursuing my dreams and being one step closer to becoming a veterinarian made these stressors worth it. The Animal Sciences Department, SEBS, and SEBS EOF have made my experience at Rutgers unforgettable.
I knew that I would find “my people” within the Animal Sciences Department and that could not be truer. I have found advisors and professors that care about my goals and are willing to help me achieve these goals. I have made many friends through my classes and continue to study with them through virtual learning. One of my favorite classes I have taken has been the Small Ruminant Practicum where I was able to gain hands–on experience with sheep and goats. Being able to handle the animals at the farm is what animal science majors look forward to the most and creates some of the best profile pictures. I have also been able to assist with Equine Nutrition Research and have been involved with the Society of Animal Science Club, Veterinary Science Club and Douglass Residential College.
Through the Society of Animal Science Club, I was able to attend NESA, a livestock judging, knowledge bowl competition, and paper presentation, held at the University of New Hampshire in February 2020. Coming from a 4-H background these were the types of competitions I enjoyed and was thrilled to continue doing something that I enjoyed while at Rutgers. Additionally, in February of 2020 I was able to represent the Veterinary Science Club at the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association Symposium (APVMA) held at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg VA. All these experiences and involvement with the clubs lead me to run and obtain the vice president position in the Society of Animal Science Club, and secretary and APVMA delegate of the Veterinary Science Club.
The EOF department has also made my experience at Rutgers enjoyable because the advisors and staff care about your goals and want you to succeed. They also want to challenge you in ways that you will benefit from rather than be hurt by the challenge. My advisor, Mrs. Wyatt along with some of my Douglass Residential College mentors helped push me to apply to the DRC Introduction to Scientific Research class where I was paired with a peer investigator and started conducting research. Having taken the transfer class with Mrs. Wyatt made the transition easier as the studying hours and difficulty level was different than what I was used to at community college, and many of these worksheets and information discussed in this class I still use each semester. I have also been able to be a mentor to other incoming SEBS EOF students these past few months, and I have enjoyed every minute of getting to know them and answering questions.”
Steven Jeanty graduated from Hudson County Community College with an associate’s in biology before transferring to Rutgers. He is a senior majoring in plant biology, with a minor in agriculture and food systems. Jeanty also works full-time as an assistant grower in a vertical farm. He hopes to own a farm of his own, where he will grow an array of unique crops, and feed his community.
“Before I transferred to Rutgers in the Fall of 2019 I had so many concerns and uncertainties. I am a nontraditional student who works full-time, and I also needed a full-time course load in order to graduate on time. At the beginning of 2019, I lived in Bayonne, and I needed to move closer to New Brunswick for school. Once I was accepted by SEBS, my fiancé and I sat down and developed a plan. We found apartments in New Brunswick, I informed my employer of my school schedule, and developed a plan to commute to work every day. A friend of mine, who also attended Rutgers, suggested I apply for the EOF program. I took her advice and reached out to a counselor. By the summer of 2019, I attended the incoming transfer seminar and was more confident in entering the fall semester.
I enjoyed my first semester because of the SEBS EOF program. From the first day, they familiarized me with campuses, the professors and staff. I met with my EOF counselor frequently, to discuss my academic goals at Rutgers, plan future course schedules, scholarships, as well as other funding opportunities. They also promote and provide a variety of clubs that are full of diversity and inclusion. Talking to my counselors allowed me to be informed and well-prepared. For example, my EOF counselor helped me work on my cover letter. I used that cover letter to apply for travel abroad and work-study—and was accepted. Now, I am advocating for all my friends to join the EOF program. It is a great resource.”
Jailene Figueroa attended Mercer County College and is majoring in nutrition with plans to attend medical school. To gain more experience in the medical field, she works at a pharmacy and previously worked for an oral and maxillofacial surgeon as a surgical technician.
“I actually planned to attend Rutgers upon graduating high school, but things did not necessarily work out in my favor (or so I thought at the time). One day I met with Dean Sabb and she helped to steer me in the right direction of attending community college and earning my associate’s degree before applying to Rutgers University to complete my bachelor’s degree. At Mercer County Community College, I applied to be in the EOF program and what I noticed immediately was that in both EOF programs, the staff really went out of their way for their students. I kept in touch with Dean Sabb during my time at community college, reaching out with any questions; she was great at giving me advice on my concerns. I ended up being very happy with the outcome of attending community college first, as I got to save money and was accepted into the SEBS EOF family with open arms once I was finished.
During my time at Rutgers, I’ve had the privilege of having the lovely Mrs. Wyatt, my EOF counselor, guide me through everything that makes up Rutgers. Transferring to a big university with no knowledge of the ins and outs can be extremely overwhelming to say the least. As undergrad students, sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in our studies that we forget to explore everything that Rutgers has to offer. SEBS EOF allowed me to make connections with my professors through projects and allowed for me to gain an invaluable skill set that I can carry with me throughout my entire career.
One thing I’ve learned in my journey of being a transfer student is that sometimes, we are given situations in life which we may have the option of treating as obstacles or as opportunities. I could have chosen to view attending community college as an obstacle or as an opportunity; I chose to treat it as an opportunity. This allowed me to keep a positive outlook and a willingness to participate in activities, thus leading to the creation of an abundance of great connections. Treating situations as obstacles will make them less enjoyable and make one more prone to expect the worst. Some things are truly what you make of them.”