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Transfer Center for Policy & Resources Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Staff and Faculty Journeys

Elizabeth Perez

Elizabeth Perez's shoes.

I ran away from home at age 17. I had graduated from high school a year early, and I knew I wanted to go to college but had very little direction and no mentors. I enrolled at my local community college and immediately found support from a few professors and advisors who saw potential in me. It was life-changing. I earned my AA in English at Salt Lake Community College, and transferred to the University of Utah after that, where I earned BA degrees in English Literature and International Studies, and then a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Teaching and Learning. I had to grapple with some serious imposter syndrome, as well as trauma, along the way. I learned from my experience that the past does not define me, and sometimes I just need to get out of my own way in order to succeed in college and career. I also learned about crucial resources like academic advisors, and that most instructors really do want to see students take advantage of their office hours. My mentors helped me apply for scholarships, taught me about graduate school, and encouraged me to seek out learning abroad opportunities. I became an educator largely because of their impact on me, and now each day I can help others forge their own educational and life paths.

Transfer students often feel pressure to hit the ground running, to just finish their remaining coursework and move on. But be sure to slow down a bit, so that you can take advantage of critical resources that will help you in the long run. Meet with advisors and career coaches. Take advantage of your instructors’ office hours for additional help on your writing and the course content. Meeting with your instructors also helps you network – those same professors might later be willing to write you a letter of recommendation for graduate school, or provide job leads.

Favorite shoes then and now?

My favorite shoes as a college student were definitely cute strappy heels! But these days I reside in the Palouse, which means I wear mostly sneakers and flats – these are some serious hills!


Judy Hopkins

Judy Hopkin's shoes.

My name is Judy Hopkins, and I currently work at the Academic Success and Career Center as their Internship Coordinator and Career Coach. I transferred to WSU from LCSC early on as a Broadcast Communication major…then a number of years went by (don’t ask how many!) and I came back again to WSU to complete my degree. This time I switched to Human Development with an Adolescent emphasis. It was intimidating to jump back into the educational system after being away for so long. The ASCC academic advisor I met with was incredible–helping to match my life time of work with adolescents and the previous Broadcast interest, to a new major and minor. I LOVED being back on a campus I was already familiar with…even though there had been lots of changes. I also love the fact that anywhere in the world we have amazing alumni who will shout across the street–“GO COUGS” and this very same enthusiasm compels them to support Cougs moving into the workforce! GO COUGS!!

Favorite shoes then and now?

I think my favorite shoes back then were a colorful pair of bowling shoes…for everyday wear! My favorite shoes today are actually a pair of brown, comfortable, low boots that have a flair of aqua on them–super comfy and fun…I usually wear them with colorful socks as well. Life’s too short to not have some fun with our footwear!


Waylon Safranski

Waylon Safranski's sandals.

Transfer Center Director

NDSU > Univ. of MN-Duluth > Iowa State > WSU!

As a first-generation college student, I started off my journey wide-eyed at the possibilities higher education presented. That said, I often hesitated to utilize resources and wandered around various majors and institutions considering career fields from agronomy to sports writing. I was fortunate to be able to maintain solid grades, but it wasn’t until I got to WSU where i finally relied on the advice of an academic advisor and got involved with numerous campus organizations and activities. This all led me to the path I’m on today, which I’m very grateful for.

A succinct piece of advice I’d give to any transfer student is to celebrate your past experiences, even if it wasn’t what you expected at the time, and realize that those experiences have led you here. Your opportunities are abound, and we will do anything in our power to support you.

Favorite shoes then and now?

Then: Doc Martens boots
Now: Chaco sandals

Heather Reyes

Heather Reyes' boots.

Transfer Center Coordinator

Growing up, I never thought I would go to college, for a few reasons. Eventually, I realized I needed to figure it out. I enrolled at Olympic College in Bremerton, WA. I started taking classes, but like many first-gen students, I had no idea what I was doing. After a few quarters, I figured out what transferring was.

Like many students that transfer, I stayed close to home once I completed my associate’s degree. At first, I was certain the institution I transferred to had made a mistake and I was worried they’d figure out I wasn’t good enough to be there. In order to pay for school I worked full-time and lived with my family my first year. My second year, I ended up participating in the Sociology Honors program and graduated with honors in Sociology. As we were waiting to walk out into the stadium, the students started singing the fight song together (I actually never learned the fight song-whoops). As I write this, I can still feel how surreal the moment was.

A huge motivation for me to pursue an education was to honor the sacrifice my father made, serving in the military, to be sure he could provide for his family and hopefully give his children opportunities that he didn’t have. I know it was a big moment for him when I graduated.

What I would say to transfer students is, you worked hard to be here, you belong here, and it’s a big deal. Be proud. I also tell my UNIV 304 students to “wear the pink goggles”, but that’s a story best told in person – come find me in Lighty 180 🙂

My favorite thing about WSU is definitely the community and pride. It’s a special place.

Favorite shoes then and now?

I can’t recall exactly, but my favorite shoes then were either a pair of heathered Etnies or black Vans with gold embossing on the heel.

These days I really love wearing boots with a little bit of flair. A crowd favorite is a pair of black studded ankle boots (pictured).

Saichi Oba

person's lower legs in jeans with leather looking sneakers


I was planning to leave Hawaii for school on the ‘mainland’ – San Diego, CA to be exact…I was headed to the University of San Diego – a small, private University. Before I left I received a letter from the football coach expressing concern about my participation – he had never had a player from Hawaii – and ‘what if I were cut in camp? What would I do for the two weeks before the fall term started?’ I was mortified – I also knew I wasn’t going to USD.

My parents were visiting family in San Diego and after a desperate call from me, they went and visited just about every ‘JuCo’ – community college in San Diego County (from Grossmont to Southwestern and went to two offices at each school: the Registrar and the Football office.) The head coach at San Diego Mesa College wrote me a letter looking forward to my participation on the team.

I threw away all the information from the other schools and went to Mesa.

The coaches, instructors, advisors were excellent. They knew my plan was to finish a 4 year degree – so everything they had me do was with that in mind. I finished my bachelors degree at Eastern Oregon and my MBA at the University of Alaska – all possible because of the help I received at SD Mesa.

Advice: if you are clear about your transfer plans – share them with your advisor or staff at your current school. If you are clear on what you want – they can be clear on how to help you get there.
Post Script: the first coach that called me at the end of my two years at Mesa, asking me to visit campus…the Coach at USD…lol

Favorite shoes then and now?

If I had a time machine, I would be staring at a pair of my football cleats…I can share it now: I went to college to play football and in the end earned a college degree because football kept me in college.
I would say comfort is the number one attribute I am looking for in footwear today…

Ali Bretthauer

sandals in shallow water with rocky background

I transferred from a small community college to a state university about a year into college. I’d loved my community college. The campus was beautiful, the classes were interesting, and I was able to live with my family make the hour commute, and work full time. It also meant I never really had THE college experience. I went to class, studied, and went about the rest of my life.

When I moved, my new university and the university town were not what I expected. It was big, lonely, and everyone already seemed to have college life all figured out. I had no clue who to talk to to get involved or make friends with college students. I ended up working (out of necessity) and most of my friends came from work long before I made college friends. I never joined any events because I never had in community college and thought they were for people with nothing better to do. My grades suffered, and I wasn’t very happy.

After a lonely year of hard work and still no concept of the university life everyone else seemed to have figured out, I took a chance on applying for a job at the university. I never thought I’d get it, but I worked hard on my application, and landed the job. Suddenly, this entire new university was opened to me: I met faculty, students, and staff; I participated in university events; I became a leader at my institution. That experience set me on my current career path. I was so happy, I ended up returning to and working at my alma mater.

My advice for transfers is this: follow everyone else’s advice. Go to events, get out of your comfort zone, meet people. This isn’t just the path to a degree, this is an experience. There are opportunities here which will never be available to you once you graduate, and there are experiences for new professionals which employers expect you to have before going into the job market.

My favorite aspect of WSU is the Coug family, and the “once a Coug, always a Coug” mindset. Welcome to the family. Go Cougs!

Favorite shoes then and now?

My favorite shoes in 2004 were whatever I could afford, which was usually something from Walmart. Now, I adore my Chacos and my Brooks.

Ranene Royer

brown shoes against carpet

I am a regional admission counselor for WSU, Pullman. I live in Battle Ground, Washington, and serve Southwest Washington and all of Oregon. I recruit both incoming freshmen and transfer students. I also am the Transfer Lead for our department.

I was my high school valedictorian but decided to attend our local community college because I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I did not want to attend a college, then find out later that that college did not have my desired major. I decided that I wanted to major in Communication Studies. I applied to three universities and was admitted to all three. I chose to go to the University of California, Davis because it was fairly close to my boyfriend (now husband), was a beautiful campus, and had an excellent academic reputation. My transition was fairly seamless since it was a public institution that encouraged transfer students. I chose to live in the resident halls my first year. I did have more difficulty with the social transition since my roommate and most of the people I met were freshmen. I did feel a little left out because the people my age had already been at the campus for two years and everyone seemed to already have their social groups set. Overall though, I enjoyed the experience.

Favorite shoes then and now?

When I transferred my favorite shoes were a pair of mahogany-colored leather boots. They slouched at the ankle, had pointed toes and an inch and 1/2 high heel. My favorite shoes now are brown walking shoes made by Dansko. They are comfortable and sturdy. Their brown color matches many different outfits.