With one in 10 of all undergraduates starting at other colleges and universities, Virginia Tech’s transfer community is a large and diverse part of the university.

During National Transfer Student Week, which runs Oct. 16-20, Virginia Tech celebrates this growing student population — as well as the network of support programs that serve them. 

“We strive to create programs and resources for Virginia Tech's transfer students to not only meet their needs as new students but also provide them with a supportive community of peers who also transferred to the university,” said Nasim Schwab, associate director of Academic Advising Initiatives.

In 2018, the university launched Transfer Initiatives, a comprehensive strategy to increase the number of transfer students who matriculate and graduate from Virginia Tech. The initiative is a collaborative effort including Enrollment Management, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Analytics and Institutional Effectiveness, and Communications and Marketing. 

The result was the Hokie Transfer Community, which serves as an umbrella for the Transfer Experience living-learning community, a First-Year Experiences course for transfers called Unleash Your Hokie Potential, a transfer peer mentoring program, and the Tau Sigma national honor society for transfers. 

Below, four students share how these Hokie Transfer Community programs helped them.

Transfer Experience living-learning community

Name: Andrea Mota
Hometown: Virginia Beach
Major: Psychology
Transferred from: Illinois State University

Of the many things Andrea Mota had to figure out when she transferred to Virginia Tech, the simplest was where to live. She applied to the Transfer Experience living-learning community (LLC), located in Newman Hall. “The LLC was the key for me to find my people,” Mota said. “I made my best friends here, and that definitely made the transition process easier.”

One of those best friends lived across the hall and bonded with her about applying to all the same schools. Others were people Mota met at bowling outings, football game watch parties, and professional development workshops sponsored by Transfer Experience. “Some of us were coming from four-year schools, some were coming from community college, but we were all in the same boat,” she said.

Mota loved living in the community so much that, as a junior, she’s one of four student leaders in Transfer Experience, helping other students navigate the transfer transition. “I’m glad I can empathize with them and be like, ‘Hey, I have been in your shoes. It might be a little bit rough or shaky right now, but it’ll get better, I promise.’”

First Year Experience: Unleash your Hokie Potential

Name: Raegan Lamkin
Hometown: Haysi, Virginia
Major: Political science
Transferred from: Mountain Empire Community College

Growing up in a small community helped Raegan Lamkin understand the challenges transfers can face, particularly international students or those coming from smaller universities or community colleges. 

“Transitioning to Virginia Tech was amazing, I was so excited to meet new people from different backgrounds after a year and a half of online classes at community college,” said Lamkin. “But I know it can be difficult for people to adjust to college away from home if you're from places in Southwest Virginia like Wise or Dickenson counties.”

Lamkin is a teaching assistant for Unleash your Hokie Potential, which she took during the spring 2022 semester. The course is a requirement for joining the Transfer Experience living-learning community but is open to all transfer students.

The course is built around speakers from around campus talking about available resources, including several taught by Lamkin and fellow teaching assistant (TA) Logan Howard about navigating the university’s online systems for advising, course selection, and registration.

“My role in the classroom is more being a mentor than a teaching assistant,” said Lamkin. “Virginia Tech does a good job recognizing the needs of transfer students, and my TA was really helpful when I took the course, which is why I’m still involved with the class.”

Transfer student Rahil Ross. Photo by Javeria Zulfqar for Virginia Tech.

Tau Sigma Transfer Honor Society

Name: Rahil Ross
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Major: Business information technology
Transferred from: Kalamazoo College

Rahil Ross was so eager to transfer from his small college to Virginia Tech that he made a PowerPoint presentation to convince his parents to let him. The pitch worked, and in fall 2022 Ross arrived on campus, doing so well his first semester that he was invited to join Tau Sigma, an honor society for transfer students. Only transfers who earn a 3.5 GPA in their first semester can join, limiting the group’s membership. “It’s actually kind of difficult for recruiting,” admitted Ross, who’s now Tau Sigma’s vice president.

Recently, though, Tau Sigma launched a new strategy, using the funding it receives as a student organization to co-sponsor events with transfer-serving units like the Transfer Experience living-learning community. All transfer students are invited, no matter their GPA, to get to know each other. “It's a symbiotic relationship, and transfers win in the end because they feel more belonging,” said Ross.

The approach has been so successful that in September, he and the rest of the executive board gave a presentation about it at a Tau Sigma leadership conference in Washington, D.C. Naturally, it was a PowerPoint.

Transfer Peer Mentors

Name: Nader Dajani
Hometown: Sterling, Virginia
Major: Financial planning and wealth management
Transferred from: Northern Virginia Community College

For many transfers,  the most stressful part of arriving on campus isn’t always academics.

“When you’re trying to find your people, the social aspect of college can be difficult, particularly if you went to a community college and took a lot of online classes without face-to-face interaction,” said Nader Dajani. “I know it was for me, so as a peer mentor, I want to be part of their support network when they arrive on campus.”

For the last two years, Dajani has mentored four or five transfers each fall. Sometimes it means trading texts about the best places to eat on campus or shop in Blacksburg. Other times, Dajani plans informal events like a group hike or meeting downtown for funnel cakes at The Boardwalk. 

There are also weekly events provided throughout the year by the Hokie Transfer Community, a program in Undergraduate Academic Affairs. And if his mentees need help as they fine-tune their academic goals, Dajani can provide some guidance too. 

“When students start to take more advanced classes, they really find out what they do and don’t want to pursue in their careers, which is particularly common for transfers,” he said. “Then, I can get them in contact with the best people on campus to get them help or answer a question.” 

More information about transfer programs can be found online for the Unleash Your Hokie PotentialTransfer ExperienceTransfer Peer Mentor program, and Tau Sigma.

Written by  Will Rizzo and Melody Warnick