By Laurie Ferreras (SEBS’21) – Continuing Transfer Student
National Transfer Student Week—every third week in October—celebrates transfer students and the professionals who support them on their journeys. Join us in recognizing those who have made this journey! #TransferStudentWeek. Here we meet Laurie Ferreras (SEB’21), Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources.
My name is Laurie Ferreras and I am a senior with a major in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources. My journey began when my home in Teaneck, New Jersey nearly foreclosed in 2013. It forced my family and I to move the Bronx, New York City and start our lives over. It also meant I could not go to a four-year college, but it did not discourage me from enrolling into Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and working hard to earn scholarships.
While I was in BMCC, my father often took my mother to court because he did not want to support my college career (they divorced my junior year of high school). To have learned how much my father wanted to prevent my success was heartbreaking. It really affected me emotionally because I did not have my best friends nearby, I did not want to stress my mother or show weakness to my younger sister, and I did not have other family members for support. I felt alone.
However, I did not let my emotions control me. I became more motivated because I understood that the only way to free myself from my father’s control was to continue my college journey. Soon I became the journalist officer for Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and more opportunities became available to me.
After graduating from BMCC, I went to Hunter College and majored in English. As much as I loved my courses, I realized I still wanted to become a veterinarian. It was a childhood dream and I wanted to continue to pursue my dream. So I applied to Rutgers University.
Initially, I applied to the School of Environmental and Biological Studies (SEBS). I was not accepted by SEBS. So I called RU to understand why I was not accepted, and found out it was due to the science courses that failed to transfer from Hunter College. An advisor was able to transfer my application to the School of Art and Sciences (SAS) where I was accepted. I will forever be grateful to that advisor because without her help, I would have not been able to attend Rutgers.
“There is a term in the higher education transfer professionals called ‘transfer shock’ and it is the experience many students have regardless of where they transfer from or to. Adjusting to the culture of a whole new institution can be overwhelming. We do all we can to help ease the transition.” — Carol Andrew, Assistant Dean, Office of Academic Programs.
Soon I was traveling from the Bronx to New Brunswick, a three hour train ride to and from, because I refused to pause my education for a semester. It was something I needed to endure to receive my freedom and achieve my dream. After a few months, I encouraged my family to move back to New Jersey. I was able to take the biology courses I needed to transfer into SEBS.
I had also taken a few animal courses, which was very fun. I took Ruminant Practicum (Sheep & Goats) in the summer of 2018. It really made me physically fit after the course, but the most rewarding aspect was the hands-on knowledge I received and being able to name a lamb, Jack (because his mother’s name is Kangaroo). He was my precious little lamb that I loved so much, and watching him grow made me feel so warm and happy.
However, as much as I loved the animal science courses, the course that changed my life was Introduction to Ecology and Evolution. The topics fascinated me because it reminded me of my childhood where I would learn about climate change, viruses, animal populations, and etc. on Animal Planet.
It persuaded me to major in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources after transferring into SEBS. It was the happiest moment in my life because I finally took control and became even more passionate about managing wildlife species.
From then, I seized every opportunity I could. I became meal manager of Brower Commons within a semester, vice president of The Wildlife Society, a George H. Cook Scholars Program participant (researching bees), an Hermana of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority Incorporated, SEBS Spend-a-Day and Tour Ambassador, volunteer for Julie Lockwood’s eDNA lab, Advanced Open Water and Aquarium Diver, and a member of many organizations on campus.
I would not have gotten this far without the guidance of assistant teaching profession Suzanne Suhkdeo, dean Liaan Pechera, assistant dean Serafina Smith, professor and chair Julie Lockwood, Career Services, RU alumni, my hermanas and more.
I remember feeling overwhelmed by a biology exam and I went to ask for help and was fortunate to meet with Imani Johnson, director of communications at Douglass Residential College, who allowed me to rant for thirty minutes and provided me with the resources to help me with biology. It was the first time I met Imani, and she showed so much concern and gave me the attention I needed in order to become successful.
There is an overwhelming amount of connections to make at RU, but there is always someone there to help in a time of need—even if it is a peer. I am forever grateful to the resources available to me because I will finally be able to graduate this coming spring 2021.
I intend to apply to Rutgers for their Ecology & Evolution PhD program. I want to become the first Latina in my family to receive a doctorate degree. I also still want to take as many opportunities in order to fulfill my potential and surpass my current limitations.