Struggling to find her place on campus after transferring from USC Aiken, Yaunna Hunter couldn't find organizations that fit her interests or needs, so she devised a plan — she'd make her own. She created an organization for transfer students like her.
"I just knew that other people were going through the same thing as me," Hunter, a fourth-year public relations student, said.
The organization she founded in 2018, the Association of Transfer Students, is dedicated to providing support and fostering community among transfer students.
Hunter said she decided to transfer because of the wider variety of programs USC offers and her interest in the business school.
In her first semester at USC, Hunter got the idea for the organization when she realized the campus was missing an opportunity to foster community among transfer students. After her transfer, she met other transfer students who were experiencing the same struggles.
“It was, really, just really finding out that others were going through the same struggle, and I did not want them to be alone," Hunter said.
Alyssia Ross, a fourth-year retailing student, serves as the organization’s vice president. She said her transition to college after transferring from USC Upstate was tough because she didn’t live on campus, and she struggled to figure her way around.
“I was able to meet other transfer students and not feel, kinda, alone in my transition,” Ross said.
Ross said her positive experience in ATS inspired her to join the executive team.
The organization conducts campus tours for students new to campus, uses a mentorship program to partner new members with other transfer students in the organization and connects students with resources they need.
“They’re still very diverse, like there’s different ages; different GPAs; different majors; some have families; some are in their 30s; some are still, actually, freshmen,” Hunter said.
The organization works with campus partners such as the Student Success Center and the Career Center to help transfer students find and use resources they might not know about.
To help students new to campus find their way around, the group leads campus tours at least once a semester highlighting hot spots on campus.
“We do have a mix of traditional and nontraditional [students], so we made it a way for people who don’t live on campus or are in other states to come visit campus and just kinda feel involved in the campus community,” Ross said.
Members such as Troy Etta Knox and Janaizha Young have not only benefited from their involvement, but they’ve also begun helping other transfer students in their roles as mentors.
Knox, a third-year international studies student, transferred to USC from York Technical College during the pandemic. She’s been involved in the organization for two semesters, and she’s serving as a mentor for new members this semester.
“This organization is very special to me because I’m a transfer student that came in, specifically, in a time such as this, when you are really feeling alone and isolated,” Knox said. “It allowed me to network, meet people, learn about different opportunities on campus, get involved with different opportunities on campus and ask questions.”
Young, a second-year social work student, joined the organization after transferring from USC Aiken. She said she joined because she wanted to find an organization of people who understood what it was like to be a transfer student.
“To me, ATS is like home. It’s that safe place,” Young said.