New Group Helps Transfer Students Network, Learn About Campus

After Emmanuel Adebola’s first semester at UT, he gave himself a homework assignment: do something to help other transfer students—like himself—adjust more quickly to campus.

Emmanuel AbebolaAdebola, a senior in social work, was born in Nigeria and moved to Nashville with his family when he was nine. He transferred to UT last fall after earning his associate’s degree at Nashville State Community College.

“After my first semester on campus last fall, I went home for Christmas break and assessed how well my first semester went,” he said. “I felt I could have accomplished more if I only had the information to connect me to the resources I needed. I then realized that as a transfer student I could not point out any resources tailored to helping me acclimate to how things work at UT.”

With help from Admissions and the Center for Student Engagement, Adebola formed Tennessee Transfer Connect.

He serves as president, and Larry Long, an assistant director in Undergraduate Admissions who works with transfer students, is the advisor. Other transfer students involved in running the group are Derek Yates, a senior majoring in criminology, vice president; Patrick Walter, a senior in economics, treasurer; Shoshannah Higgins, a junior in hotel, restaurant, and tourism management, media chair; and Nolan Travis, a senior in history, social chair.

“We hold two events a month for our students,” Adebola said. One of the events is informative, giving students vital information on subjects like housing or career services. The other is social.

“We do things like tailgate or rock climbing at the HPER, and we host a transfer student social fair,” he said. “We aim to bridge the gap between social and academic life to provide an atmosphere where everyone feels included and can enjoy the big Orange lifestyle.”

Initially, Adebola spread the word about the group through word of mouth, e-mail, and the VOLink website.

“Our Facebook page just went up not too long ago and is picking up traction,” he said. “We also have an Instagram (utktransfer) and Twitter (@utktransfer). In short, we are trying to maximize our presence on all social media outlets since students communicate regularly on those mediums.”

Adebola said about thirty students are involved so far.

“The response we have gotten so far has been positive,” he said. “Students had a lot to say about some of the hardships they’ve faced being new to campus.”

After a recent meeting, Adebola watched students exchanging phone numbers and making plans to attend an event together.

“Seeing them interact after saying how hard it’s been for them to make friends, and then watching them make plans to do things together, I came to the realization for the first time that we were on the right track,” he said.

Adebola said Tennessee Transfer Connect has plans to be involved with several events during Homecoming week and interested students are welcome to join any time.

For more information about Tennessee Transfer Connect, call Adebola at 615-719-6213 or e-mail him at eadebola@vols.utk.edu.

CONTACT:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)