Tailored for Transfers

Nearly one quarter of NC State’s undergraduate students start their career elsewhere. Transfer students come from other colleges and universities across the nation, but a large portion complete associate degrees at campuses throughout the North Carolina Community College System.

Each incoming transfer student adds a depth of academic and social experience to the campus community. Over the years, the number of these students has grown along with the general student body population.

“For the Fall 2017 semester, we have more new incoming transfer students than we’ve had in over 20 years — nearly 1,300,” said Erin Dixon, associate director of enrollment systems and operations. “We have a lot of students from community colleges statewide who come here to complete four-year degrees. One of our primary purposes is to serve this state and its citizens, and our transfer programs are an important way that we accomplish that.”

NC State maintains a variety of programs and services to support transfer students from application and enrollment through graduation. Units including the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) and Enrollment Management and Services (EMAS) offer transfer student orientation and advising, oversee related student organizations and more.

“Since incoming transfer students will likely only be on campus for a few years, we want to make sure they are equipped as possible to acclimate to a rigorous class schedule, navigate campus, take advantage of undergraduate research and study abroad opportunities, pursue internships and receive career preparation,” said Melanie Cruz, a transfer student coordinator and academic advisor in Exploratory Studies. “I would advise all transfer students to get out and talk to other students. Go meet professors in their office hours, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Once you do, we have every resource imaginable to help you succeed.”

We sat down with two transfer students to talk about their experiences coming to NC State and participating in campus life. Madeline Yun, a junior chemical engineering major, transferred from Durham Technical Community College and is part of the inaugural transfer class of Goodnight Scholars. Ariadne L. Palma Parra, a graduate student in civil engineering, came to NC State from Universidad de La Salle in Bogotá, Colombia.

Madeline Yun

Junior, Chemical Engineering

Tell us more about the Goodnight Scholars Program for transfer students.
The Goodnight Scholars Program is a comprehensive scholarship program. Not only do you get a full scholarship to NC State, you also gain leadership opportunities and learn about how to be successful beyond college. We receive a huge amount of support from one another, and the Goodnight Scholars professional staff. I’m the only one from my community college that transferred to NC State as a chemical engineering major, so it has been a blessing to have this community to transfer into. On the first day of school, I already knew a few people here and that was great.

When I found out that I was accepted into the program, I felt a wave of relief wash over me. The feeling of being rewarded for my hard work at a community college was overpowering, and I realized that I won’t have to struggle financially through my years at NC State. It was one of the best days of my life.

Why did you choose to pursue an education at NC State?
It is really close to where I was living before and transferring from Durham Tech was pretty feasible. But when I started learning more about NC State, I became excited that such an amazing university was so close. For me, there was an expectation that you needed to go to college, but I never really followed through with that after high school. When I had my daughter, I knew that I needed to do this for our future. Then I went to Durham Tech and found out that I could be an engineer and transfer to a great college. When I saw Centennial Campus, I knew this was the only college for me. Walking into the Engineering Buildings and seeing the chemical engineering lounge and all the amazing research that takes place here was impressive.

What support did you receive at your community college that prepared you to transfer?
One of the activities that I participated in was NASA’s Swarmathon. We worked on robotics, wrote a technical paper, engaged in video editing — it was a dynamic project. Julie Hoover runs all the NASA projects at Durham Tech, which are funded in part by the NC Space Grant, which is through NC State. So it is all full-circle, and NC State has been with me the whole time. I had fantastic teachers at Durham Tech as well. My math teacher, Mr. Mansfield, is the chair of the Mathematics, Engineering, and Physics Department and a mathematics instructor; he’s great and really inspiring. When I told him that I wanted to be an engineer and I wanted to switch to the associate of engineering degree, he told me that I could do it.

What were your expectations of NC State, and what kind of support have you received here during the transition process?
The Goodnight Scholars Program has helped me meet a lot of people already. We had a transfer retreat where I met my fellow Goodnight Scholar transfer classmates, and some current Goodnight Scholars. We did this amazing scavenger hunt all over campus that day, and I learned a lot about NC State before my first day of school. Having that support is huge, and it is only going to get better for me as a Goodnight Scholar. I want to get to know more people and gain a leadership position to become an transfer ambassador so I can talk to other community college students about this.

I did not realize there would be so many programs geared towards helping transfer students adjust to life here. It has been really encouraging. I think that as more transfer students decide to make NC State their home, the need for these programs will only get greater.

 What are you looking forward to over the next few years at NC State?
I’m looking forward to doing research, and I really want to get involved in a research lab. I also would like to be involved in the American Institute for Chemical Engineers. I had an idea that I wrote about in my Goodnight Scholars application about supporting parents and other nontraditional students who come to NC State. I’m a little older (25) and have a child, so it is a little harder to relate sometimes. I think having a group for students who are parents would be a valuable addition to the community here. A huge part of the Goodnight Scholars Program is the idea of paying it forward, and I want to live up to that. We have all been given this amazing chance to succeed, and I really want to give back to the community that has given me so much.

What are your plans upon graduation?
I’d like to go to graduate school to explore fields like biophysics or nanotechnology, but I also might want to go into industry. I have a concentration in biomanufacturing and there’s a world class biotech facility here. RTP is the second leading area in the nation for pharmaceuticals, so it is an exciting place to be.

Do you have any advice for future transfer students?
Just apply. Realize that you always have a chance if you apply, and you may have a great opportunity in front of you. Try not to be afraid of rejection. You will learn so much about yourself, and what you truly want.

Ariadne L. Palma Parra

Graduate Student, Civil Engineering

Why did you choose to pursue an education at NC State?
My mom moved to the area from Colombia when I was 15, and I had been coming to visit for Christmas every year. I was comfortable in Colombia studying, but I knew it would be best to move here since I was going to exercise my profession here. I researched the best universities for civil engineering, and came to NC State. It has an awesome engineering program and is a campus that is very welcoming to international students. So, I moved here and applied. I could only enter in the fall, so it took me a year to actually come to school. During that time I worked as a server and improved my English and communication skills. Once I got here, I found the transfer student orientation to be very helpful in learning how to navigate campus.

I talked to the transfer student advisors and most of my credits were transferable so that I wouldn’t be set back too much. I transferred about 70 credits and met my goal of graduating in two years — I started in the fall of 2015 and graduated last spring. It was hard but it was worth it.

Once I was on campus, I wanted to get involved. I talked to one of the professors who specialized in earthquake engineering, which is what I have been doing in my research. I got involved with it in my first semester here, and he told me that undergraduate students could be research assistants. That’s how I met a lot of the people who are now my friends.

Working with grad students helped me learn so much. They connected me with the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) student chapter here, which engages undergraduate students through the international seismic design competition (SDC). I was able to build a balsa wood building that can resist ground motions and not collapse. I participated in the EERI SDC the two years I was here as an undergraduate student.

How did your transfer experience impact your decision to continue your education at NC State?
I want to be a structural engineer and more specifically, possibly become an earthquake engineer. There will be many jobs available to me as a structural engineer, but after completing my undergraduate degree, I wanted to enroll in the master’s program to further my knowledge and research. I think this will help me figure out what I enjoy doing in the field of structural engineering, and to choose what focus will be best for me.

At NC State, there are so many educational opportunities to take advantage of, and so many unique programs. I knew that by continuing here I would have access to those opportunities.

What were your expectations of NC State, and what kind of support have you received here?
I wanted to receive a great education. The advisors from the College of Engineering and my department were really helpful, and all the professors are open for you to ask questions. You just have to not be afraid of talking to people.

You come as a transfer student with a goal of performing well academically, but you also have to think about your personal life. Making friends helps you gain balance, and that support means so much. You can’t isolate yourself, or you won’t be as successful as possible. I always reached out to others when I needed something. It was encouraging to see that the same ethic that was behind the academics here exists in everyone.

Additionally, going to the career fair here really helped. During the year that I was here before I was accepted, I applied for internships because I really wanted to work in the engineering field. I came to the career fair and got a job from working with the DOT. They knew that I planned on coming here so they hired me — they trusted that. NC State opens a lot of doors, including me landing my job that summer.

The Career Development Center is a very helpful tool for transfer students who want to get a job. I have used the ePack tool quite a bit, and completed a mock interview session that really helped me develop my skills.

What are you looking forward to over the next few years at NC State?
My research focuses on earthquakes — analyzing simple structures and how they behave. I got involved with this research initially because it was part of my undergraduate education in a class I took that was focused on earthquakes. Hopefully this will create a new path for other researchers to investigate, and something helpful comes out of my research that is applied in a policy or code in the future. For my career, I hope to feel fulfilled and know what path I want to take once I graduate — to figure out what jobs I want to pursue in what part of the country. I hope this master’s program will help me figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life, or for at least the first 10 years after I graduate.

I have really enjoyed working with professor Mervyn Kowalsky, who has almost 20 years of experience working in earthquake engineering. He gave me the opportunity to work on a project in Alaska, where I’m working with Ph.D. students on evaluating a bridge there to see if it needs retrofitting according to the hazard level. Hopefully we’ll travel there in January. I’m going to be able to build up specimens to scale and test them in the lab. The Constructed Facilities Lab on Centennial Campus is really great — that’s where I worked as an undergraduate research assistant. Here at NC State and in the lab you get a full range of experience and learn things you otherwise couldn’t, and I’m looking forward to that in the future.

Do you have any advice for future transfer students?
Know that the goal that you have in mind when you come in is subject to change. There might be opportunities that you are not aware of initially, so keep an open mind and be determined in what you want. The people here are really welcoming. Don’t be shy – reach out, ask for help if you need it. Your input is valued here.

I recommend getting involved with anything that you are passionate about. I didn’t know that I liked research, but I pursued it and figured out that that’s something I wanted to do. Get involved!

I was also surprised to see that what I said helped other people. It has been an experience that has changed who I am and made me more independent. Do the best you can with this awesome campus and these awesome people who are available to you.

Find out more about NC State Transfer Student Resources:

DASA – New Student Programs

EMAS – Services and Programs

Academic Advising – Transfer Student Resources

Undergraduate Admissions – Transfer Advisors

Transfer Student Orientation

Career Services

Tau Sigma Honor Society

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