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Pomona College Transfer Students Overcome Challenges and Find Community

Transfer students discuss experience

Each year, Pomona welcomes a talented group of transfer students to campus who come from community colleges, other four-year institutions and the military.

Bringing their own distinctive experiences, Pomona’s transfer students enrich the academic and social environment on campus. They also manage unique challenges with the support of the Pomona community.

Here are the stories of three transfer Pomona students as they stepped on campus for the first time this semester.

Akosua Ofosuhene ’23

Originally from Ghana, Akosua Ofosuhene moved to Ohio with her family in 2015 and attended Columbus State Community College before transferring to Pomona.

“I was really worried about coming in and everyone in my class already having their different groups. And I didn't know how I'd be able to integrate into that,” Ofosuhene says.

Ofosuhene credits her sponsor group for helping her integrate into the new environment. Pomona College sponsor groups are comprised of students new to the College that are led by other students who facilitate an inclusive and healthy community and help students adjust to the College.

“It's been really a great experience getting to know other transfer students, because we have similar experiences. I was able to make friends from there and then slowly I was getting to know other students and joining clubs,” Ofosuhene says.

And a small, inclusive academic setting is exactly what Ofosuhene was looking for in a four-year institution.

“I just wanted a small school where I can have a one-on-one experience with my instructors. And just feel like I'm in a community,” Ofosuhene says.

Ofosuhene is still deciding on a major. She is exploring chemistry and psychology in hopes of eventually going into medicine to help those in her home country of Ghana.

Jayden Saldana ’22

Jayden Saldana did not travel far to attend Pomona College. He is from Monrovia, about a 30-minute drive from campus, and transferred from Citrus Community College. He is one of the many new students who began their classes at Pomona online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was extremely nerve wracking, especially on Zoom, not only do you come in not knowing anyone, but you come in with this virtual barrier that stands between you and getting to really cultivate effective relationships,” Saldana says. “And I was fortunate enough to make some friends loosely on Zoom. And those friendships have really been strengthened by coming on campus.”

Saldana is a philosophy, politics and economics or PPE major. The area of study combines knowledge of current economic and political institutions and their histories with a broader vision of the goals and purposes of human society. He says he chose Pomona College because of the notable range of majors.

“I really wanted to know more about the world through different lenses. I wanted to understand things through different frameworks. And even though I had never taken a philosophy or an economics class, I was able to transfer to enlist the help of some of the faculty here to jumpstart my understanding of those disciplines. [Pomona College] allows me to satisfy my academic and intellectual hunger. I can't imagine getting that from another undergrad college,” Saldana says.

Saldana shares some advice for students considering transferring to Pomona College.

“Don't count yourself out. Write admission essays. Get letters of recommendation. If this is a school that you're interested in, you should apply. Don't write yourself off,” Saldana says.

Hayley Manges ’22

Hayley Manges transferred to Pomona from Riverside City College, about 30 miles southeast of campus, in her hometown of Riverside. After taking honors classes there, she felt prepared to pursue a liberal arts education.

"I feel like I was naturally inclined to shape my community college experience around that of a liberal arts curriculum, eager to get the full experience once I transferred, hopefully, to Pomona," Manges says.

Manges started her classes online due to the pandemic and was challenged to build connections. She says she has received support from her professors and classmates as she pursues a media studies degree. Her sponsor group and two professors in particular, Media Studies Professor Ryan Engley and Music Professor Donna Di Grazia, have played an important role in helping her adjust to Pomona.

"They both listened to what I was going through, from my transfer process, to changing majors, to distance learning, to caretaking for my mom who became quadriplegic a month into lockdown. I just felt like they really cared and listened to me and were here for my success,” Manges says, "But since arriving on campus, nothing has made me feel more at home than laughing about the day's misfortunes with my friends over a Frary dinner."

As she continues to work toward her degree, she is excited about what’s to come.

“There's so much waiting for me. And I feel like the time I have left here is not enough. Even four years for a normal student is not enough. There are so many things to do. College is what you make of it and nowhere is that truer than at a liberal arts college,” Manges says.

Faculty Support for Transfer Students

Media Studies Professor Ryan Engley shares a special connection with transfer students not only as a professor but also having been a transfer student as an undergrad. He says the hardest thing to deal with is having a feeling of belonging, especially for those transferring in their sophomore and junior years.

According to Engley, students may feel like they are behind or falling behind. This is certainly not exclusive to transfer students, of course, but transfer students have that extra thing to deal with where they always have to “make up” for having arrived late at the “party.”

“It can often feel like going to classes and just being on campus is like walking into a party two hours late where everybody has developed inside jokes from the first hour of the party,” Engley says.

Engley shares an encouraging sentiment to transfer students.

“You absolutely already belong because nobody belongs more than anybody else,” Engley says.