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Transfer coaches help ease transition for fellow students

Bryan Ramirez and Abby Purlee are transfer coaches who help their fellow UNG students adjust to a new university.

Abby Purlee and Bryan Ramirez know what it's like to transfer to the University of North Georgia (UNG) from another school. Now, they help others who are traveling a similar journey. They are two of UNG's eight transfer coaches who help their fellow students adjust to a new university.

They are excited for National Transfer Student Week, which will feature a wide variety of events from Oct. 19-23 aimed at celebrating transfer students and helping them understand the resources available to them.

Chantelle Tickles, Nighthawk Engagement and Student Transitions (NEST) assistant director, said the week is all about connecting students to services that will reap benefits for them.

"We're trying to provide multiple ways for transfer students to make an impact on their campus and to know that they don't need to have all of the answers right now," Tickles said. "They have resources to help them along the way and make them feel like they're part of UNG."

Rachael Williams and Emily Dabau serve as NEST coordinators that assist in those efforts to serve transfer students.

The theme for National Transfer Student Week is "Thriving through Transfer." Purlee, a junior from Dacula, Georgia, pursuing a degree in psychology and a minor in biology, embodies that mantra as she transferred to UNG from Auburn University after deciding she could pursue her degree cheaper closer to home.

"Coming to UNG and really finding a community has been leaps and bounds better," Purlee said.

NEST began using transfer coaches for the first time this fall. Both Purlee and Ramirez, a junior from Dacula, Georgia, pursing a degree in marketing, encourage other students to help transfers feel more comfortable at UNG.

"Whenever you talk to transfer students, listen to them. Ask them why they transferred. You might even have some similarities with them," Ramirez said. "It's good to see where people are coming from. It's good to see people from all different backgrounds."

Emily Kittrell, assistant director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) based on UNG's Dahlonega Campus, said the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the challenges faced by transfer students.

"Transfer students are very resilient and persistent, and they've needed those skills more than ever this fall," Kittrell said.

There can be many barriers to transfer in a regular year, but the shift to virtual-only support services in the spring and summer meant UNG's incoming transfer students had to adapt much differently than they probably planned.

"The NEST crew — like transfer professionals everywhere — has done a wonderful job helping students get acclimated, and we're excited to celebrate their hard work during NTSW," Kittrell said.

During Transfer Week, NISTS also plans to unveil a comprehensive Transfer Website Strategy Guide, an essential resource for higher education institutions and the only one of its kind.

As part of National Transfer Student Week, UNG will accept nominations for the Transfer Champion Award, given to faculty or staff members at UNG who have shown outstanding service to transfer students. The nomination form is available on UNG Connect.

During the week, UNG will also spotlight transfer students on the UNG Transfers Instagram page.

A career success workshop is set for noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 20 through Zoom and a transfer trivia and pop culture night for 7 p.m. Oct. 22 on Zoom. Transfer resource tables will be available multiple times on different campuses throughout the week. Learn more about these events and others on the UNG National Transfer Student Week webpage.

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