I attended a special event on campus today. A party had been organized by the GCC Transfer Center celebrating the students who are transferring to a four-year college or university at the end of the semester. It was the first time that such an event was organized, and that may have contributed to the modest attendance at the event, but I truly hope that the people who organized the event do it again next year. I had a wonderful time talking to students who were there, and they seemed to really appreciate the event.
There were a few students there that either had been in one of my classes, or currently were in my class, but most of the students I don’t think I had ever met before. The students wore name tags showing their name and where they were transferring. As I walked around the room I could glance at the name tags and see the school that would be the next step in that student’s educational journey.
I was impressed by all the different universities that our students were now going to be attending. I saw lots of tags listing UC campuses, various Cal State locations, a variety of private universities, and even some locations out of state. One acronym that caught my eye was UMUC. I did not recognize that one. When I asked the student about it, the student told me she would be taking courses through the University of Maryland University Center, but she would be doing this in Germany, where her husband, who is in the U.S. military, was going to be stationed.
As I wandered between the tables spread through the Student Center there was a palpable excitement that radiated from the students. The room was filled with hope, anticipation, and maybe a little trepidation, for the coming adventure of moving to a different college, often in a different city, sometimes far away. Some of the students would be leaving home for the first time. All of them were leaving what has probably become a relatively comfortable existence here at GCC.
I had the opportunity to speak to many different students at the event. Every student I spoke to had an interesting story. We talked about where they were transferring, what their major was, and why they chose that major. Sometimes they would tell me about an influential professor they had at GCC.
We discussed how their university experience would be different than GCC. I asked a lot of questions, and I provided some hopefully useful information. On a few occasions, I gave the students a little advice. The time flew by and before I knew it, the event was over.
Not every student at GCC plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to continue their education, but this is one of the main missions of the California community colleges. An event like this one not only acknowledges the students’ achievement of a significant goal, but it gives us a chance as faculty to interact with students in a much more casual manner than the usual student-teacher relationship naturally supports. The conversations I had with the students today likely would not have occurred in a structured classroom environment.
If this event is held next year, and I sincerely hope it is, I would encourage you to keep an eye out for it and try to attend it next time. It was a nice reminder of the positive impact that we have on students’ lives. I left the event feeling inspired and energized. I had a great time, and we can always use more of those.
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