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

Staff and Faculty Journeys

Heather Reyes

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.

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

Judy Hopkins

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!!


Ranene Royer

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 found 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 residence 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.

Ali Bretthauer

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!

Saichi Oba


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.