Transfer Students Enrich Campus at Pomona

Meelod Waheed and Rom Arca

Every student’s journey to Pomona College is unique, paved with different challenges and experiences along the way, and that is especially true for transfer students. They begin their higher education at community colleges or other four-year institutions; some have served in the military. These talented students bring a wide cross section of experiences to the Pomona classroom and to campus life.

“Simply put, transfer students make our campus better,” says Adam Sapp, assistant vice president and director of admissions. “At Pomona we seek a student body rich in talent and broad in its diversities, and we take great care to enroll a transfer class that is both well prepared academically and eager to impact life beyond the classroom.”

Pomona recently affirmed its commitment to recruiting transfer students by joining 20 other colleges and universities nationwide to launch the Transfer Scholars Network (TSN). Led by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, TSN connects almost 400 high-achieving community college transfer students to the nation’s top four-year institutions.

The College strives to be a place where transfer students can thrive, meet any challenge and make their aspirations a reality. Transfer students live in the same residence hall to help create a greater sense of community within the group. New student orientation includes transfer-specific programs, introducing new transfer students to each other and to campus resources, including their class deans and the Career Development Office.

Maura McDinger, junior class dean, works with many of Pomona’s transfer students. “They come to campus with a unique preparedness and focus and a sense of urgency to get everything they can out of the opportunities available at Pomona,” McDinger says, adding that “there are resources for transfer students to help them overcome obstacles.” Staff from the Registrar’s Office also work closely with transfer students to support their academic transition.

Meet two of Pomona’s most recent transfer students:

Rom Arca ’24

Rom Arca ’24, originally from the Philippines, comes to Pomona from Sacramento City College. He discovered Pomona in high school but was reintroduced to the College after attending a webinar while in community college.

“I just was fascinated by liberal arts colleges and small schools in general because I like having that small, tight-knit community and having those close relationships with your professors,” Arca says.

The molecular biology major says when he first came to Pomona he was “excited but nervous at the same time.” He worried about being prepared for his rigorous classes.

“It was quite an adjustment at first because you have to learn some laboratory techniques and skills, but I think I’m getting used to it now,” says Arca. “I’ve been enjoying it so far because labs are really fun here.”

Arca shares some advice for other transfer and potential transfer students: “There are a lot of opportunities and areas to explore, and you can explore your interests more here. Don’t worry about not finding social groups you can become a part of right away because there’s going to be a lot of time to find them.”

Meelod Waheed ’24

Pomona’s first TSN scholar, Meelod Waheed ’24, is a transfer student from Northern Virginia Community College majoring in computer science. While the Southern California weather was a plus, he says Pomona’s small class sizes and diverse community were what drew him in.

Waheed, whose parents are originally from Afghanistan, connected with another Afghan student when he first arrived at Pomona through the Admissions Office. That interaction “was very comforting knowing that I could find someone from my own community who could relate to me and my past experiences,” he says.

Waheed had never lived on the West Coast before, and it was not easy making the transition from a community college close to home to a four-year institution on the other side of the country.

“Learning how to navigate through the college lifestyle at Pomona and adjusting to that was particularly challenging at first,” Waheed says.

Waheed credits his professors and fellow transfer students for helping him face these challenges. He encourages others to “be comfortable being uncomfortable, take charge and have the initiative to go out and meet new people. You’d be surprised by how much you can learn from your peers.”