Thursday, March 19, 2015

Transfer Student Spotlight: Shannon Erickson from Northern Arizona University

Shannon Erickson
Hello! My name is Shannon Erickson and I am a Speech Sciences and Technology major at Northern Arizona University. I transferred to NAU from Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona after attending Yavapai for two years and receiving two associate’s degrees.  One of my favorite parts about attending a community college first was that I saved THOUSANDS of dollars by choosing a community college and having cheaper tuition, more scholarships and living with my parents an extra two years.

When you transfer an associate’s degree, it comes into NAU as a block, taking care of all your liberal arts requirements and most likely, your first few classes related to your major. When you transfer in credits that have not equaled your associate's degree (or AGEC), the university evaluates each class and chooses a course that is the NAU equivalent. My advisor told me that receiving my associate's from Yavapai College before I transferred to NAU would be much easier and better in the long run. I ended up bringing in two different associate's degrees, one in Early Childhood Education and one in General Studies.  This made my transition process much easier and my NAU advisor was able to simplify my advising once I was here.

I came to Flagstaff in June, rather than waiting for the semester to start at the end of August. I didn’t know a single person living in Flagstaff and I was beyond scared thinking that I wouldn’t have any friends, a good housing situation, or a job. Basically, I thought I might hate everything about it. I originally decided to move up in the summer thinking that if I didn’t like it, home was only an hour and a half away and I could just drive back and be home with family and friends. Throughout the entire summer, I ended up only going home once and that was for my birthday. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to live in Flagstaff for the summer before school starts. Being here earlier made my off campus living and job situation simpler. It gave me the chance to really get to know Flagstaff before I was stressed out about school work in the fall. Flagstaff summers are unbelievable, especially with the temperature averaging in the 70s-80s. There are always festivals, events and touristy things to do during the summer.

One of the main things that I love about NAU is the culture of Flagstaff. It is a huge reason why I chose NAU and instantly fell in love with it. It has the small town feeling and you’ll see your friends from classes around campus and town. At the same time, it is big enough that you won’t be bored or not have anything to do.  For the most part, Flagstaff has some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Everyone is laid back and casual and truly cares about you.

During my first year at NAU, I was constantly having to explain why I didn’t do some things as a freshman because I was a transfer student. I didn’t meet a single other transfer student that entire year because at that time there was not a transfer program at the university.  It wasn’t easy. Then the Transfer and Commuter Connections program got started and I was hired to be a Transfer Peer Mentor. Now, I take ownership in being a transfer student and I use my experience to help others with their transition. There are about a thousand transfer students every semester and thanks to our program, we can connect them right away. We have a sense of community and family in our program – we have carved out our own niche at NAU.

I have seen the program transform so much. We are currently going into our third year and each semester it gets exponentially better with all the new ideas from our staff and incoming transfer students. Every day I am at work, I help multiple people, which is an incredible feeling. People will tell me at the end of conversations how much I helped them and how much better they feel about their transition to NAU. Our events are also fun, especially because you get to meet new people at each event. One of the best things about our program is transfer students can participate any way they want.  They can have a mentor, come to events or just call and ask us questions – it’s all about what they want.

Another cool thing about being a transfer student is that you can be a part of Tau Sigma, which is the honor society for transfer students. I was part of the honor society for community colleges as well, but this one is just barely starting, so it’s kind of interesting to be a part of starting something new. Tau Sigma is going into its 2nd year at NAU, and this year I will be President. I can’t wait to see how much it grows.

All of these things combined have given me an extreme amount of pride and love for NAU.  As I said before, I love NAU and Flagstaff in general, but even more so as a transfer student. It feels so good to be a part of the transfer community, which is growing each semester.

My top five tips!

  1. If you can possibly get your AGEC or Associate’s degree before coming to NAU, I strongly suggest doing it!  
  2. Be proactive and start all the things on the university enrollment checklist as soon as you can! These things take weeks to process and you want to get the best enrollment date that you can! 
  3. It is very important that students fill out the priority enrollment form at the end of on-line orientation for transfer students. This is how advisors have information to help you.
  4. Join all the helpful Facebook groups such as Housing, Ride Share, Jobs & Internships and Buying & Selling ones so you can reach out to other NAU students to combine resources!
  5. Join as many clubs and organizations as you have time for as soon as you get to NAU to meet people. There are hundreds!