Transfer Edge Mentorship: Students Helping Students

By Aftin Pomeroy

The incoming students of the 2016 Transfer Edge Program have proven to be exceptionally motivated and full of curiosity, especially when it comes to research.  In response, Transfer Edge Mentors Aftin Pomeroy and Anthony Wovenu recently designed an event called the Faculty Research Panel, where several professors offered to speak about their unique and useful research perspectives for the 2016 Transfer Edge students.

Some of the ultimate goals of this panel included normalizing the idea of pursuing research, and minimizing the intimidation that comes with approaching professors about research opportunities. It is often the case that, when entering a research university for the first time, new students are uncertain where to begin. They might think: What exactly defines research, and how do I get involved? Providing answers to these questions from the perspectives of fellow students is one of the key roles of the Transfer Edge Mentors.

“There are countless paths that are paved for you as a new student, and I can remember how shocking this was after transferring from my community college. There were campus organizations, academic departments, research opportunities, and much more calling out for my applications,” commented Transfer Edge Mentor Aftin Pomeroy. “I wanted to delve into everything that was placed in front of me; it was difficult to sift through all of the possible paths I could take. The campus is unbelievably welcoming.”

UC Irvine has an astounding presence of opportunity. As a participant in the Transfer Edge Program last year, Aftin was guided by one of her mentors and was introduced to her current research position at the Beckman Laser Institute working on using focused laser light to eradicate brain cancer site-specifically. Similarly, Kofi Bonsu found his first research opportunity, which uses therapeutic dance to rehabilitate stroke patients, during an Inside UCI event held by the Transfer Edge Program last year. Both Anthony and Kofi learned skills that taught them how to effortlessly approach professors and express their interest in conducting research.

As some of the Transfer Edge Mentors embarked on their own research endeavors, they discovered the easily acquirable tactics needed to successfully initiate and engage in research projects. One of the largest and most important tasks that these mentors faithfully promise their mentees is learning about the campus and all that it has to offer, and subsequently delivering this valuable insight back to the students in the Program. Since the mentors study in a variety of fields and majors, and participate in a wide array of extracurricular activities, each of them offer a distinct perspective of UC Irvine.

Transfer Edge Mentor Kofi Bonsu states, “Each mentor brings his or her own unique piece to the puzzle. Collectively, we strive to create a diverse and informative picture for the students.”

As students who just completed the same courses, activities, projects, etc., the mentors are the most accessible and like-minded resource available to the new students.

“Sometimes people are most affected by their peers. A student struggling through school may resonate with the fact that their mentor is also a student and has similar struggles. There is an added layer of understanding that can sometimes break through the initial uneasiness. That is why I feel that programs like Transfer Edge are crucial to have on any campus,” claims Kofi.

The first stages of transition as a new transfer student at a university can include a multitude of physical, emotional and mental challenges. Programs such as Transfer Edge aim to reduce these challenges by fostering student-mentor relationships. Mentor Anthony Wovenu talks about his struggle with the “Imposter Syndrome,” where he felt like he was an “imposter” who did not truly belong at UCI, and how Transfer Edge helped him overcome it.

Anthony explains that “Coming to a prestigious and honorable school such as UCI, I initially felt really out of place; however, the Transfer Edge program gave me the tools I needed to feel more successful in my academic goals and build on my confidence as a student. It allowed me to break outside of my comfort zone in a comfortable environment. That feeling is the reason I decided to become a mentor for the program this year. The feeling of hope, and realizing that I possess more potential than what my syndrome originally allowed me to perceive – I want to give that feeling to someone else.”

This year, the mentors aim to provide the support, advice and guidance needed for each of the new students to participate in their own research and create their own stories.

“The Transfer Edge mentors serve as both reliable guidance for helping the new students find their own path at UCI, as well as creating an environment of friendship and open-ness between all participants,” mentor Andrew Begey explains. “They are the glue that connects the incoming students with their maximum potential at UCI. There is one common thread that unites each of us in the Transfer Edge Program: We are all passionate about providing an environment filled with positive encouragement and knowledgeable support as the new students begin to launch their academic careers at UCI. Zot! Zot! Zot!”

To learn more about the Transfer Edge Program visit https://summer.uci.edu/programs/transfer/