Students walk across the Lory Student Center Plaza (Photo: John Eisele | CSU Photography)
Transfer students make up about 30% of the Colorado State University student body, yet they are often an under-recognized population.
This week, Oct. 17-21, is National Transfer Student Week, and to honor the important contributions that transfer students make to the CSU community, SOURCE interviewed a handful of current and former transfer students to provide the following profiles.
The first time Jessica Roig gave higher education a try, it’s safe to say it did not go as planned.
“I completely flunked out and had a very hard time,” she said. “I was considering a teaching degree, but wasn’t sure if I actually liked kids, and just stopped showing up to class. That’s the 17-year-old way of dealing with a huge existential crisis.”
So, she started a career and spent seven years working for a company that made diabetic shoes. That’s when she realized it wasn’t quite what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
“It was more paperwork than actually working with people,” she said.
That led Roig to go back to community college near her home in Pittsburgh in 2018. After visiting CSU the following year, she realized she wanted to finish out her degree in Colorado, where she could enjoy the mountains and the sunshine.
She moved to Fort Collins for the Fall 2021 semester. She’s double majoring in political science and sociology, and is now considering working toward a Ph.D and pursuing a career in research.
Roig currently works as a peer adviser for CSU’s Adult Learner and Veteran Services office, where she shares lessons from her academic journey with fellow transfer students.
“My main piece of advice for adult learners is to always find your community, because it can be a bit isolating when you’re in your first few classes,” she said.
She said she’s also found inspiration in the students around her.
“I know it seems like the 18- to 22-year olds seem young, but they have a lot of insight and understanding that people ignore because of their age,” Roig said. “However, I’ve found I’ve learned just as much from traditional students as I do from my teachers or other adult learners.”
Colette Sterling, assistant director of Parent and Family Programs at CSU, said her experience as a transfer student gave her a great foundation for her current job.
Sterling got her postsecondary start at Red Rocks Community College in Golden, because at the time, she wasn’t sure she was ready for a four-year college. It seemed overwhelming.
“Community college was a great experience, because it was an easy entryway into learning whether college was for me,” Sterling said.
After two years of coursework and holding down a part-time job, she transferred to Johnson & Wales University in Denver to enter its culinary arts program. Later, her partner, who was at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs, decided to transfer to CSU for its creative writing program.
Sterling’s partner had been involved in CMC’s TRIO Program, which helps low-income individuals, first-generation college students and people with disabilities progress along their educational path, from middle school to the post-baccalaureate level. Sterling got involved in TRIO as well and decided to join her partner at CSU in 2016.
“TRIO became a foundational part of my success at CSU,” she said.
Sterling, who had the support of the same TRIO retention specialist until her graduation in December 2019 with a degree in communication studies, worked as a transfer transition leader with Orientation, Transition and Family Programs for two years as an undergraduate.
“It was a way for me to connect with students who were experiencing what I’d gone through,” said Sterling, who went on to earn her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from CSU. “Part of what inspired me to go into a student affairs career was being a transfer transition leader and a transfer student.”
She explains that transfer students bring a diverse variety of backgrounds into the CSU culture, which benefits traditional first-year students.
“Transfer students bring a lot of great stories with them, including different identities, which enhances CSU,” Sterling said. “They bring so many unique experiences to a college campus that first-year students haven’t had yet. Transfer students shake up the perceptions of who college is for, which I think is really important.”
When Jason Reyes transferred to CSU, he was able to quickly find his place in the community through the same activity he’d been participating in since middle school: marching band.
“That’s where I met my roommates, and I feel like 90% of my friends are people I met through band,” the trombone player said. “I feel like a majority of my support system is through the band, even the fraternity I joined.”
In his role as a transfer transition leader, Reyes is quick to tell others coming to CSU later in their academic careers to also find a niche at the University, be it through a club or on-campus job.
“With first-year students, most of them come to college together fresh from high school, and have a more uniform experience where they live in a dorm, they’re on campus 24/7,” Reyes said. “Transfer students are very different, because no two transfer experiences are going to be the same.”
Reyes’ journey to CSU started in his home state of California, where he attended community college for two years with the goal of eventually becoming a firefighter.
After being told a bachelor’s degree would make him a stronger candidate for the firefighting academy, Reyes applied to CSU, where his aunt works as an academic adviser. Once he got his acceptance letter, he researched joining the marching band, and found himself at band camp in Fort Collins shortly before he started classes in Fall 2021.
“It’s important for me to feel like I’m part of something, and that’s definitely been my experience at CSU,” Reyes said.
Reyes said he loves his health and exercise science major so much that he is no longer interested in pursuing firefighting and is now interested in cardiac rehabilitation – and considering studying occupational therapy at CSU for graduate school.
Programs for transfer students
Throughout the week, programs will be offered for transfer students. Learn more below or by visiting: otp.colostate.edu/transfer.
The Big Outdoor Thing
Monday, Oct. 17
West Lawn Lagoon Area (grass area on the southeast corner of West Plum Street and Meridian Avenue, just southeast of Parmelee Hall) from 3-6 p.m.
What is The Big Outdoor Thing? The Big Outdoor Thing is an opportunity for transfer students to hang out and interact with each other! Come chill with Transfer Programs @ CSU for yard games like spike ball, ladder ball, frisbee, giant Jenga and more.
Hot Yoga at CorePower
Monday, Oct. 17
CorePower Yoga Studio (2700 S. College Ave.) from 6-7 p.m.
Turn stress into sweat. This signature class strengthens, balances and detoxifies your entire body and mind as you move through postures and connected breath. Set to an energizing playlist, you’ll power up your practice like never before. All experience levels are welcome, and there is no cost to attend this event.
University transportation from campus to the yoga studio is available if needed. The university shuttle for the class will depart from the Canvas Stadium parking lot #585 (the new student tailgate lot) at 5:30 p.m. Please sign up here: https://col.st/6hhiV
Transfer Student Game Night
Tuesday, Oct. 18
Behavioral Sciences Building, Room 107 from 5-7 p.m.
Calling all game night fanatics! Join Transfer Programs @ CSU for board games in the Behavioral Sciences Building.
Study Night with TILT
Wednesday, Oct. 19
TILT 104 (Active Learning Lab) from 5-7 p.m.
Backed up with studying for midterms or just want to stay on top of your class work? Take advantage of some tutoring provided by TILT or bring a group for a group study session.
Rock Climbing @ the Rec
Thursday, Oct. 20
Student Recreation Center climbing wall from 4-6 p.m.
Come experience the Student Recreation Center climbing wall for a few hours. All students are welcome, no prior experience necessary.
Celebrating Transfers – Cider and Donuts Social
Friday, Oct. 21
Lory Student Center Plaza from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This is a National Transfer Student Week tradition here at CSU. Stop by the Transfer Programs @ CSU table for some cider and a donut, while meeting fellow transfer students and others on campus who support transfer students.