On my first day of class, I had butterflies fluttering from my fingers to my toes. 'What new adventure is ahead?' I thought as I entered Mississippi State University's campus that day.
I started my walk from the Commuter East parking lot past the T.K. Martin Center. I approached the four way stop to see cars moving at a specific pace, one car after another, in the same order each time. I stood there and waited to cross the crosswalk, sun beaming on my head and wind blowing my hair into my face.
I stepped my foot out, just for it to be taken back by the red Ford truck quickly approaching. I stepped my foot out again in hopes this time the cars would notice me, but yet again my foot was taken back by a black Toyota Camry. I stood at the crosswalk and thought, 'Am I really this invisible?' As a freshman, you are welcomed and accepted, but as a transfer, you are typically a junior, and you are expected to know everything from day one.
The first day of school is always the hardest. From my parents’ car to my own car now, that anxious feeling I get when I close the car door is a feeling like no other. That first day of college was an exhilarating experience, but my first day did not start at MSU.
I started my college career at Itawamba Community College. ICC was the best two years of my life, but was cut short my last semester due to COVID-19. Everyone left for spring break not knowing we would never go back to campus.
It was a daze. I never got the goodbyes, the final walk around campus, or even a graduation ceremony.
I had high hopes MSU would be amazing.
I went to my first class at MSU. I walked up to McComas Hall not knowing which door to use. I stood at the building map inside the building and looked for room 201. With each step I took, my anxiety climbed out of my head and into my stomach, toes and hands. As I reached the second floor, I saw a piece of copy paper taped to a wall with bolded numbers "201" and "204" and an arrow pointing to classrooms around the corner. There I found my first class.
I entered the classroom and sat at a small wooden desk that could only fit only my laptop. Slowly, I felt the anxious feeling of being lost in a maze drift away. Sitting in that classroom was my first friend at MSU, Parker, who sat beside me.
The first day of class was stressful; I had no clue what I was doing. Little did I know, my first friend would be a transfer student just like I was. After a couple of class meetings and correcting each other's Intro to News Writing and Reporting stories, we opened the door to the room where you start to let details of your life trickle out. I soon learned that Parker had transferred from Meridian Community College to MSU.
There I was sitting in my class and realizing someone else had the feeling of being a little fish in a huge pond. When I realized I was not the only person flooded with questions I was expected to know but did not, I realized how transfer students were swept under the rug.
There are so many outreaches to freshmen, but not for transfers. I looked for ways to meet friends and get involved, but I fell short. I didn’t know about Cowbell Connect or any way to find organizations on campus. No one targets transfer students.
After my whole junior year, I learned the ways of a university, but I wasted a whole year of opportunity— a whole year of new friends and college experiences. I rekindled an old friendship with my high school best friend, Payton. Payton had attended MSU for three years of college at the time, so when I told her how lost I felt, she stepped right in and helped me. Payton showed me the multitude of MSU Instagram accounts and how to use Cowbell Connect. This opened my eyes to the hidden world of MSU I had been yearning to find.
I entered the first semester of my senior year finally knowing resources available for students and how to get involved. I was involved in multiple clubs at ICC, so I was excited to know how to maneuver MSU. I had to learn how to feel connected, make friends and get involved all on my own.
The more time I spend at MSU the more I realize that there are some outreaches for transfer students. The Transfer Student Association is a place for transfer students to gather with people who have the same struggles of learning an entire new university.
My senior year, I joined an organization called the Involvement Ambassadors. The entire goal of this organization is to help students find their niche on campus. We are the liaison for the clubs and the student body. As an involvement ambassador, we host events across campus to help get students involved in something on campus. A helpful tool I found through the organization is to set up an appointment to meet with an involvement ambassador. A student can fill out a quick survey on their hobbies and interests, and when they come to the appointment, IAs can steer them towards a club or organization to call home.
I joined Involvement Ambassadors to help others who felt as lost as I did. I have grown to absolutely love MSU, and I want to help other students who see this school as just a place to attend class realize it can be so much more than that. My goal is to show students no matter what year you come to MSU, you can make this place your home.
MSU filled a part of my heart that was missing. When I think of MSU, I think about how I can have all the lasts of a college student: a last walk around campus, a graduation and a final goodbye. I found a new campus that made me feel at home.